Stardrag's Reviews > The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
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May 24, 12

bookshelves: high-fantasy, cool-magic, slow-going

You know, I'm starting to see a trend in Sanderon's novels. When he works on stand alone works, they tend to have more fragile characters in term of physical strength. Take Elantris for instance. He made a story where people take pain seriously because they have to live with it for the rest of their lives without getting better, or even Warbreaker where he actually shows us how one character has to repair her zombie warrior creature piece by piece.

When he writes high fantasy, he trespasses into the Superman complex...which I just made up. Basically they act almost like the "Man of Steel" but Sanderson forgets to add in the kryptonite for an effective, physical weakness.

Szeth can kill anything that thinks about denying him his angst and walks on sacred stone or defiles something else Sanderson says is special. Kaladin (view spoiler) can do just about anything. Hell, he was an accomplished doctor before he hit puberty and mastered the spear right after that. We are nothing before him.

And when you see Sharpblades in action, you'll wonder why the world is just one gigantic group of scars where people should be.

See, the kryptonite here in this book is made by the character's mentality and adherence to the law. Kaladin is more pathetic than sympathetic and did what he had to do because of the unfair laws that govern his land. There's a difference between asking some unforeseen being why your life sucks, and knowing it does. Kaladin is the latter and I liked that it was different in that area and I think Sanderson wanted us to feel for him the most out of all his characters since he's the only one to receive multiple chapter filled flashbacks of his youth, teenage years and subsequent downfall. Szeth parallels this somewhat, but does take a different kind of approach. He's bound by a rock. That's not very epic when I say it like that, is it? Basically, if you own Szeth's Oathstone, you own him.

What really stood out to me in this book, was Jasnah Kholin, Shallan when she wasn't trying to be witty, the magic, and then finally the world.

I admit that my attention span has plummeted the older I've become, but I rarely see an atheist character who actually has good reason to be atheist and then has the smarts backs up their claim instead of cowering before the all consuming light of religion. I'm not trying to attack anyone here, but I'm happy Sanderson made a character who is as smart as she acts when defending herself.

The magic...multiple magic systems are pretty cool. People can derive their powers from set gemstones charged, stormlight energy sucked in by gems after the planet Roshar's many hurricanes, and the nobles trying to hog the mystical weapons of mass destruction (Stormplate and Blade) for themselves. Wouldn't you do the same if you were a noble and every other noble was out for themselves? I loved all of it. And I'm a firm believer that when it comes to fantasy and especially high fantasy, magic should be as varied as its people. Or at least try to be.

Dalinar, one of the main characters is trying to change all that infighting in the story though and focus on killing the Parshendi who killed his king/brother. Oh, and I'd like to nominate the Parshendi as the coolest dark skinned race, ever.

See, Dalinar is being plagued by dreams telling him to be some kind of prophet while reading a book, "The Way of Kings" and goes on and on about the "The Alethi Codes of War". Both basically have everything that should be right in the world written down in them and both are shunned by the ruling nobility. It's the basic honest hero mindset: no drinking during war, bed before midnight, make sure not to gloat, don't be a douche, kings should be honest, tuck your soldiers in personally every night and tell them they aren't as worthless as you know they are. Between those two books, Dalinar is the embodiment of honor.

Did I mention he's got the hots for his dead brother's wife? I feel bad for the kids, who I believe are all over twenty.

But the story line that I liked the most, besides the fight scenes by other characters against people who mattered, was Shallan's. She has to gain apprenticeship with Jasnah-a woman she respects and looks up to- while stealing her fabrial, figuring out the mysteries of the world, and debating with Jasnah if the God known as the Almighty really does exist. Tell me that doesn't sound awesome.

The only problem I had with that was Shallan's overly forced wit.

Shallan's wit is basically her over analyzing of everything to the point where the simple characters she talks to always read as if their dialogue scrunched up and couldn't comprehend her unique mind.

Me: hey, can I use your bathroom?

Shallan: if you mean the simple machine operated for the cheap and public use for the disposal of human excrement and urine-

Me: Never mind, you've nullified my bladder.

It's like she's just showing off. When Shallan is around Jasnah she does cool down, showing how much respect she has for the great scholar.

The world of Roshar is well thought out though, with storm that ravage the ground and rip the soil out and the fact that shells have been incorporated into the local fauna and wildlife to ward off against them. Some lands have even retained their soil because of due due to mountains. The people are fantastical and the politics can be easily followed and understood.

My final gripe would have to be the little interludes Sanderson inserts into the stories, breaking up tension. They feel like those little advertisements that pop up or we're forced to watch on places like Youtube. They're neat, but not needed.

So, should you read this book? Well, it's slow to pick up and even Brandon Sanderson himself said you shouldn't write the first to be the largest, but it does move along far better after a few pages...a few hundreds of pages. But you knew that when you saw the page count for this book.
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Quotes Stardrag Liked

Brandon Sanderson
“We follow the codes not because they bring gain, but because we loathe the people we would otherwise become.”
Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

Brandon Sanderson
“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”
Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

Brandon Sanderson
“To lack feeling is to be dead, but to act on every feeling is to be a child.”
Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings


Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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message 1: by Jocelyn (new) - added it

Jocelyn Is that actually happened in the book? I mean the "if you mean the simple machine operated for the cheap disposal..." thing. Or at least something similar. God, it makes me want to read that just to see if it's funny as you make it sound.


Stardrag I'm so sorry, but I just saw your review now, guess Goodreads is messing up again, lol.

She actually talks like that all the time, trying to one up everyone with her wittiness that skyrockets out of the atmosphere and punctures the sun. She doesn't say that, lol, but it does come close to her mannerisms.


message 3: by Jocelyn (new) - added it

Jocelyn LOL. Well, sounds interesting. I can only hope it's as amusing as you make it sound.


message 4: by Jocelyn (new) - added it

Jocelyn Whoops! I forgot to officially like this. Sorry.


Stardrag Lol, it's okay. Thanks!


message 6: by Jocelyn (last edited Mar 02, 2013 09:19AM) (new) - added it

Jocelyn Ok, now that I've finally gotten a whiff of Sanderson, I need to ask: is the 'witty banter' better in The Way of Kings than in Mistborn (what you've read so far)? I hope so.


Stardrag Hmm, that's is a good point to clarify Jocelyn. See, Elend uses a Witt that exaggerates what kind of man he is while Shallan uses a kind that does the same to what people say and expands on it. Personally you'll like Jasnah way more who goes for the sarcastic route in most of her dialogue when she has to engage in a game of words.

For instance, Elend would call himself a terrible man in weird ways while Shallan would describe and rework the definition of what a terrible man is. I don't like either, but the best part about it is that because Shallan is a main character you get more out of her, so while the witty part is annoying at times she stops doing it later on or it at least becomes more noticeable.

Then again there is a character named "Witt" whose job it is just to be witty. I'm starting to hate the word witty, lol.


message 8: by Jocelyn (last edited Mar 02, 2013 01:07PM) (new) - added it

Jocelyn All right, thanks for your perspective. Haha, Witt's main job is to be witty? Lol.

Yeah, I kinda hate the word witty too. I dislike saying it out loud while talking to people because it just feels so awkward, you know? Witty...witty witty witty...

That's interesting, because I actually never saw Elend as witty or trying to be witty. He's kind of stupid, in fact. I thought Vin was more of the witty person. Or maybe Kelsier. But they're all disastrous at the witty game, in my humble opinion.

Now I'm really starting to hate the word witty.


Stardrag Jocelyn wrote: "All right, thanks for your perspective. Haha, Witt's main job is to be witty? Lol.

Yeah, I kinda hate the word witty too. I dislike saying it out loud while talking to people because it just feel..."


HA! Can you use such a grand word like disastrous while still saying humble? You remind me of that noble who's bullying Vin right now. And I couldn't imagine saying the word Witty and being taken seriously either. I'd just end up laughing at myself.

I imagined Elend as hard headed at times and a little self indulgent by telling people how horrible he is while throwing his books wherever he wants to. Yeah, Kelsier was too, but allot of that was in the beginning of the book where to me he sounded allot like Elend.

Yeah, Witt literally just insults people using his wit. Which makes him the guy everyone wants to kill and who the king favors most.


message 10: by Jocelyn (last edited Mar 07, 2013 09:25PM) (new) - added it

Jocelyn Sorry for responding so late. I'd been planning to but forgot!

Grand? Disastrous is hardly grand. And yes, I am very humble, which is blatantly self-evident. Stop questioning my clear and obvious humbleness.

I suppose Elend is witty in his own way, but it reads like Sanderson spontaneously decided to make Elend witty and then forgot about it later on. Because trust me, whatever freaking wit of his wears off fast. In the Hero of Ages, Vin even refers to him as "dreamy" (ewwwwwww). I think Sanderson is trying (and failing) to cast him into the "rugged warrior" type.

Witty Witt. Ohmigod. I think I like this guy already.


Stardrag Humbleness observed. You'd make the most perfect humble dictator and ruler.

Dreamy? That's hard to imagine seeing as how I just read the part where he got his ass handed to him! But you know how game breaking a love story is. They don't need no logic. They're that fantastical and magically in love.


Jonathan Stardrag wrote: "Humbleness observed. You'd make the most perfect humble dictator and ruler.

Dreamy? That's hard to imagine seeing as how I just read the part where he got his ass handed to him! But you know how g..."


Works everytime since Romeo and Juliet. Why change now...

The Witt is fascinating in that he's one character who appears in several of Sanderson's books. Hoid or something is his name. And it's not really a spoiler because it doesn't affect the plot. Worth looking into if you haven't.


[Name Redacted] Yep. His name is Hoid. He's sort of an inside secret -- I never would have guessed he was there if I hadn't listened to the "Writing Excuses" podcast -- he BARELY appears in the Mistborn series, for instance. ;)


Stardrag Ian wrote: "Yep. His name is Hoid. He's sort of an inside secret -- I never would have guessed he was there if I hadn't listened to the "Writing Excuses" podcast -- he BARELY appears in the Mistborn series, fo..."

HOID? That Hoid? The informant? I remember him still from the first book. So he was important...sort of...I need to finish Mistborn!

And thanks for the heads up Jonathan. I'll try to keep track of the characters. Though I almost forgot about him I just thought his name was pretty cool for a nobody character.


Jonathan Stardrag wrote: "Ian wrote: "Yep. His name is Hoid. He's sort of an inside secret -- I never would have guessed he was there if I hadn't listened to the "Writing Excuses" podcast -- he BARELY appears in the Mistbor..."

Yes I would have forgotten him if I hadn't looked into the connections between Sanderson's different books which I think is amazing and one of the biggest ideas in fantasy. Look into it, I think you'd find it interesting.


Stardrag Jonathan wrote: "Stardrag wrote: "Ian wrote: "Yep. His name is Hoid. He's sort of an inside secret -- I never would have guessed he was there if I hadn't listened to the "Writing Excuses" podcast -- he BARELY appea..."

I think I've heard about it. The Cosmere? Where all his books are in universe and may even share gods? Or something like that?


message 17: by Jonathan (last edited Mar 10, 2013 03:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jonathan Stardrag wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "Stardrag wrote: "Ian wrote: "Yep. His name is Hoid. He's sort of an inside secret -- I never would have guessed he was there if I hadn't listened to the "Writing Excuses" podcast -..."

Something like that. Apparently each of the main 'gods' kind of feature in the various books he's writing in some form but they're called something else like shards - which links into this book
incidentally. http://coppermind.net/wiki/Cosmere
http://stormlightarchive.wikia.com/wi....

I may not always like the finer details of how Sanderson tells his story but I like the bigger picture work.


Stardrag Jonathan wrote: "Stardrag wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "Stardrag wrote: "Ian wrote: "Yep. His name is Hoid. He's sort of an inside secret -- I never would have guessed he was there if I hadn't listened to the "Writing E..."

And thank you for the link. I feel like once I'm caught up in Sanderson's works-I've read Warbreaker and half of Elantris as well-it'll be just me fangirling for the rest of his works. Shards? Like pieces of a bigger God? If they all represent one aspect, then that'd be a cool conclusion at the end when I'm in my early forties and Brandon is finishing up all his books.

Oh, and of course, thanks for the link!


Stardrag Apparently I guessed right about one god shattering...makes sense.


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