Bloomington High School North Library

Bloomington High School North

The way of kings : Stormlight Archive #1

Review by Jonah Wolf on April 1, 2016

Categories: Fiction, Fantasy

Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings is an epic fantasy story in the grand tradition of Robert Jordan and his contemporaries, and the beginning of the Stormlight Archive, an ongoing series. It meets Sanderson’s usual high standards of writing quality, but lacks what other books can bring in terms of originality.
In the same way as other fantasy stories, The Way of Kings suffers some from being as ludicrously long as it is, but in many ways, this is one of its, as well as its genre’s, greatest strengths. The power of fantasy like this lies in its ability to absorb you into its labyrinthine depth and seemingly endless complexity. Without that, it has little to differentiate itself from the rest of fiction in general, and it loses some of its luster.
In Sanderson’s world of Roshar, the story follows three main characters whose stories interweave to a slight degree. Much of their time is spent traveling and worldbuilding, adding to the fantasy experience of a consistent and detailed world. It clear from Sanderson’s expert use of foreshadowing that most of the events of this book will have a ripple effect, factoring greatly into the the following nine volumes.
Even though this books builds a world all on its own, it explores mature themes of social class and institutionalized racism that are also real-world problems. Sanderson makes obvious but effective analogues to slavery in post-revolutionary war America, contrasting libertarian ideals with horrible discrimination.
Altogether, Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings is a well-written story, perhaps intended to be the beginning of what he intends to be his magnum opus. It is engaging and it deals with real-world issues while maintaining the genre’s requisite complexity to an almost insane degree. If you took just one of the three main characters stories out and published it separately, it would still be a good chunk longer than the average novel. Overall, I highly recommend it.