1st Read: August 31, 2010
2nd Read: March 7th, 2014
Though Words of Radiance
is staring me in the face, taunting me from my desk, I decided it'd be best to do a re-read of Way of Kings before even trying to broach the second book. Four years? Has it really been four years? Time really flies. I hadn't noticed the time gap but I'm really glad that Sanderson promises a shorter wait time on book three.
Even though I really enjoyed Way of Kings the first time I read through it, I liked it even more on second reading. The first time, I had a sense of anxiety and rushed through some less active sections in order to find out what was happening in the other story lines (because WHAT'S GOING ON WITH KALADIN??). On this second read, I took it slower and noticed a lot more of the detail, especially in Shallan's story and the interludes, and I appreciated the world building more where it seemed to aggravatingly slow the pace down during the first read.
Since I failed to write a proper review of this book four years ago, let me tell you about how awesome this book is. Full disclosure: I think Sanderson is kind of the best.
I enjoyed Sanderson's earlier works quite a bit. The detail of the magic system in Elantris
was my first hook and after that, I went on a Sanderson binge with the Mistborn: The Final Empire
trilogy. Those books were all really good. Not FANTASTICALLY AMAZINGLY AWESOME but still really good. After all, the Mistborn trilogy was said to be what landed Sanderson the Wheel of Time gig.
As he was writing the Wheel of Time, something changed. He grew an amazing amount as a writer and going back to read some of his earlier works now, it's painfully obvious that Way of Kings has so much more depth to it. Not just because it has a bigger scope but the world itself feels more "real" (almost but not quite the right word).
In a paraphrased version of Sanderson's words, he says that Way of Kings is the story that he's always wanted to tell but had never believed himself to be a good enough writer to tell it. That in itself was enough for me to obsessively wait for book one and I haven't been disappointed.
The Way of Kings has several storylines of which only a few cross by the final chapters. There are three main perspectives: Kaladin, the enslaved son of a surgeon who struggles with remaining optimistic about his fate; Shallan, the ward of the heretic scholar, Jasnah, who both wants to continue her studies and save her family by stealing from her mistress; and Dalinar, the uncle of the king who after failing to stop his brother's murder, dedicates himself to protecting the king instead of advancing the prowess of his house.
Alethkar is a kingdom that has been at "war" for the last ten years. Dalinar Kholin is a highprince and he and the other nine highprinces are stationed at the edge of the Shattered Plains waiting for the call to race the Parshendi to a gemheart. Though the war began over revenge for the Parshendi murder of the king, after the discovery of gemhearts, the war has become a profiteering venture for the high princes and they compete amongst themselves to obtain the most profit (and directly, the most honor for their houses).
Dalinar refuses to participate, instead lending his forces to the protection of the king and maintenance of the kingdom (the two items that he has left of his brother). When he begins having visions during highstorms, the other princes (and the king) begin to question his sanity.
In another warcamp, Kaladin has been purchased and assigned to be in a "bridge crew" for a more war-driven highprince. The tasks for he and his crew are to carry a bridge in front of the army to help them across the aptly named Shattered Plains. This includes the final chasm to the gemheart where the Parshendi may be waiting with arrows poised.
Shallan is farther away, studying in a town called Kharbranth with Jasnah Kholin, the king's sister. She initially became Jasnah's ward with the intention of stealing Jasnah's Soulcaster in order to relieve her family's debts. As she begins her studies, she begins to question her path.
The book ends with (view spoiler)[ Dalinar freeing the bridge crews and hiring Kaladin and his men as Dalinar's personal guard, Shallan being poisoned and saved by Jasnah, and Shallan revealing to Jasnah that she too can Soulcast without a Soulcaster. (hide spoiler)]
Oh and the last few pages of the book, EPIC. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>