‘The Way of Kings’ Part One follows a scholar, a slave and a lord in the aftermath of the assassination of the King of Alethkar. After a short prologue, the story opens to the night of the treaty signing between the Alethi and the Parshendi, and the death of the King. The fighting is fierce and tense, the world is vivid and dangerous, and the characters are believable and interesting.

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The world of Roshar is described with colourful imagery – the numerous spren glow in multiple colours, green around new life, reds and oranges around pain or fear, colourful mist streams from cracks in shardplate, while shardblades glow. The world is also harsh and dangerous. Highstorms destroy everything in their path, and trees and plants have evolved to retreat into stone to protect themselves. Giant crustaceans pull carts, and soulcasters make food and homes out of solid stone. Sanderson’s world is alien and beautiful, and the bright imagery was a highlight of the book for me.

Another highlight was the characters. The main three are Shallan, the scholar, Kaladin, the slave, and Dalinar, the brightlord. All three struggle with their unique difficulties – Shallan with her competing desires to be a scholar and protect her family, Kaladin with his urge to help people and his inability to change things, and Dalinar with the growing concerns of everyone around him that he’s losing his mind. As well as these three, there are interludes throughout the story where other characters from all over the world are introduced. The interludes aren’t very long, and it wasn’t clear how they fit with the rest of the story (though the relevance of some is more obvious than others). They were short enough, and the new lands they introduced interesting enough, that I didn’t mind that even by the end of the book I didn’t know what purpose they served.

I suppose my biggest criticism would be that the book is quite slow. It doesn’t necessarily feel slow, because Shallan, Kaladin and Dalinar go through lots of character development, however the ties between the three sections are fairly loose, and in the greater scheme of things, very little has happened by the end of the book. It didn’t bother me much however, because as I’ve said before, the characters are quite strong, and I cared about their individual struggles. Sanderson does give out little hints fairly regularly about all the mysteries in the book, though by the end the reader still doesn’t really know why Kaladin went from warrior to slave, why the King was assassinated (there’s basically zero progress on this question), or what went so horribly wrong with Kaladin’s family.

As for ‘The Way of Kings Part II’, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much. The ending is quite strong, however Dalinar and Kaladin started to get a little tedious, as they repeatedly went over much-covered ground. Part II was shorter however, and the ending made everything that came before worthwhile.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The world is new and interesting (and Purelake seems like an awesome place to visit), and I cared about the characters. The strength of the characters carries the book, and prevents it from feeling too slow. The book ends on a cliffhanger, which I quite like. I’ve been reading a lot of series recently where each book is more of a self-contained story, so I’m looking forward to getting into a series where each book feels more like one part of a greater whole.

Another review of ‘Way of Kings’

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