Every now and then I run into an author who does such magnificent things with words, who twists wonder out of magic, that it gets me interested in the epic fantasy genre all over again. I read Mistborn by Sanderson a few years ago, and spent quite a bit of time hand selling it to folks interested in something different, a fantasy that didn’t just wander down that same old paths with the comfortable, familiar character builds. I loved the world he built and the characters he filled it with.
And he did it again with Way of Kings.
The story centers around a sprawling, treacherous land known as the Shattered Plains populated by wonderfully alien flora and horrifying fauna. Entities known as spren are drawn to wind, to fire, and to fear. Men wield powerful artifacts known as Shards, and will kill to possess more. Chasmfiends, both sought for the gemhearts they carry within their carapaces and feared for their lethality, are the center of the conflict between two warring races, with the betrayal and murder of a king almost a second thought in the ongoing fighting.
For stormlight, magic, is carried in gems, captured by leaving them out in the vicious storms that ravage the land. A man’s worth is measured in his ability to capture gemhearts for both king and personal glory. The battles move between the plateaus of the Shattered Plains, armies carried across chasms on the backs of bridge crews.
Kaladin, victim of a vicious betrayal, finds himself in one of those bridge crews, groups made up of the lowest of the low and destined for short, exhausting lives. He finds purpose on the edge of a chasm- protecting his bridge crew- and it will take spren, luck, and stormlight to beat the odds so obviously stacked against them.
Way of Kings contains a magnificent cast of point of view characters, and the story moves effortlessly from character to character, avoiding the jarring sense of being cut from one story to another that can plague this format. Characters flow together naturally as the plot reaches a crisis point, and the end was satisfying while leaving me anxious to have the next book in the series in hand.
A wonderful read. Highly recommended.