Friday Review: The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archives #1) by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story is far too complex to condense into a short synopsis. The three main characters are all, in one way or another, embroiled in war. Dalinar, prince and uncle to the late king, and Kaladin, former soldier and skilled surgeon, now branded a slave, are fighting a war that pits ten of the kingdoms armies against a single enemy. But the battles are not for land or power, but to claim the precious gem at the heart of creatures who live in the wasteland. Shallan is the daughter of a family on the verge of collapse who is determined to apprentice herself to Jasnah, a scholar. But Shallan, as much as she loves knowledge and learning, has a darker motive for pursuing her attachment to Jasnah. All are drawn in one way or another to the legends of the Knights of Radiance.

As with most of Sanderson’s books, this is not a small book. I have read other Sanderson works and the length never really bothered me. With this one, it did. It felt stretched and almost padded in spots. There is not a whole lot of action in the first half (or more) of the book, despite a good portion of it taking place at the site of the battles. There is a lot of worldbuilding, which in a sprawling epic series like this, is not bad but it seems to be the main point of this one. The latter part of the book picks up the action and external conflict more and the plot moves much faster at that point. Characters are well made, and each have their individualities. The magic was a bit confusing to me, at least in this one. By the end, I felt that a good part of the narrative could have been cut without hurting the story.

That said, it is not a bad book. It just struck me as a bit overlong. But it is Sanderson, and he can tell a good story. Fans of epic fantasy with complex worldbuilding and character build-up will enjoyt this as much as any other of Sanderson’s work.

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