The Way of Kings: Book One of The Stormlight Archive
Written by: Brandon Sanderson
Narrated by: Kate Reading, Michael Kramer
Length: 45 hrs and 37 mins
Series: Stormlight Archive, Book 1
Release Date: 08-31-10
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
I’ve never attempted to get into the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series which although looking interesting seems like a huge time investment. I feel like I’ll be reading them a whole year or something. Actually, one of the first books by Sanderson that got me hooked were the ones from the Mistborn Trilogy (I’ll take a trilogy any time – much more easy to tackle).
The story and the way it was written was very engaging. The Way of Kings audiobook costs two credits on Audible which was the reason I didn’t get it right away but I finally bit the bullet. I’ve been craving something as captivating as Mistborn was and when I hit the Play button immediately knew I shouldn’t have waited. The Way of Kings is worth the price even if you’re not an Audible subscriber and looks like it’s going to be another excellent series from Sanderson. The Way of Kings is Book 1 of the Stormlight Archive which is planed as a ten-novel series. Oh, boy.
It’s over 45 hours in length in audiobook form which translates in about 1000 pages in print, so one could definitely say it’s a ‘heavy’ read. The sheer volume of the thing didn’t manage to put me off though. There are just some books that can’t be put down and literary you can’t stop reading! I don’t recall such a gripping audiobook since I listened to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss for the first time.
I love the authors’ witty and charming style that so successfully manages to describe adventures and philosophy, humor and sorrow. It’s all beautifully blended in, a huge slice of human feelings and thoughts. While following more than one arcs the writing is tidy and easy to follow which is very good when listening on audio.
All of the characters were so realistic I found myself caring for every one of them, even some of the bad ones. A character that was really cool was Szeth – a deadly assassin who is a pacifist and literary cries every time after he had to kill someone. Is that amazing or what? Szeth could be a metaphor for a huge part of our society and the way we behave but that might be just me imagining things. Another curious character that I liked a lot was a spren called Syl with whom Kal has quite an unusual and mutually beneficial relationship.
The spren are spirit-like creatures that appear throughout the book that were part of or related to almost everything in the world including feeling and thoughts. It looks like they appear when there’s some change happening (like someone’s health or the weather) but as this is the first book in the series it’s hard to be sure if they are the ones that start the change or just observe when it happens.
I love how the environment of the planet and particularly the geology, animals and plants have adapted to the harsh weather and how that’s important to the story line and not just a pretty backdrop. The book talks about and explores six well distinguished races. They wage war on each other over the power brought by the Shardblades and Shardplates, which are weapons with magical properties. While the war is one of the main pillars of the story, it’s not heavy on battles or violence.
Ultimately, what as most moving and amazing about this book was how well and clear written were the two things that make us human – love and compassion. The Way of Kings is probably the best portrayal of these attributes I can think of and I’m including some of my other favorite authors like Peter F. Hamilton and Dan Simons. They are nothing short of geniuses in their writing but I don’t think they’ve succeeded to portray these two simple things that make us what we are so beautifully as Sanderson does.
Needless to say, magic is a-plenty throughout the book and it kind of makes sense, as much sense there can be in magic of course. It’s just like our current technology in the sense that we almost understand it but almost nobody really knows how it actually works. There’s no shortage of adventure and exciting moments in the story and the narrators Kate Reading and Michael Kramer make it work brilliantly.
The only bad thing I can say about it is that we’ll have to wait until next year for the sequel to be released and who knows how much longer for the audiobook.