In The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson has written the first volume
of ten in what will become the decade's foremost fantasy
The Stormlight Archive. The book takes place in Roshar, a bleak world of stone and storms. The people of Roshar have been involved in a war for years to avenge the killing of their king,
doing battle on The Shattered Plains, a bleak area with massive chasms and stony ground. They meet and fight the people of the Plains, both for revenge and to win gemhearts.
Centuries ago, the land was ruled by the ten consecrated orders of the Knights Radiant. Those orders and warriors fell, leaving nothing but their almost-invincible armor and swords called Shardplate and Shardblades. When armored in Shardplate, an ordinary warrior becomes
nearly invincible and can fight off entire battalions. Shardblades can cut through anything. Both are valued above anything else in Roshar, and those who own them are the rulers of the country.
Roshar now is ruled by the murdered king's son. His ten Brightlords fight
for him with their armies, but they are not united amid plots and counterplots, alliances and betrayals.
The land is much weaker than in the past, and the signs of the future are grim. Everything points to the coming of The Desolations again, perhaps
this time to utterly destroy the land.
Four characters are the focus of both the hope and the despair to come. Dalinar Kholin is one of the king's Brightlords, his uncle and most trusted advisor. Renowned for his battle expertise, troubling rumors have started to circulate about Dalinar. He has been
experiencing visions of the past that make him question whether the ways of man are the way forward, or if they need to reach back to the ways of old.
Shallan is an ignorant and untested young woman who comes to court hoping to become the ward of the king's sister, a renowned scholar. She is accepted and learns to love knowledge and education, but she can't forget that she has come to court to attempt to steal a great treasure to
save her family back home from ruin and poverty.
Then there is the assassin. No one knows who he is or why he kills, but his targets are never safe. He kills with ruthless efficiency, but each killing grates at his soul. His life is not his own;
he is hostage to the master who owns his oathstone. As long as his oathstone is held by another, he must obey their every command, no matter how foreign it is to his nature.
Finally, there is Kaladin. Raised as a surgeon's son, he joined the army instead when his younger brother was recruited. Far from admiring the Brightlords he joined the army to protect, he has grown to loathe them as they betray him and the codes of honor again and again. Due to these betrayals, Kaladin is now a slave assigned to the bridge carriers, the most dangerous job in the army. Yet even in this lowly position, he finds a way to affect events around him.
This book is highly recommended for fantasy readers. Sanderson has created a harsh world that challenges those who attempt to survive
there but gives glimpses of what can be. Like the best fantasy sagas, the moral code underlying the entire story keeps the reader enthralled. Readers will be thrilled with this first book and anxiously await the next.