Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bookworming: The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Brandon Sanderson, ***
Oh my, I've gone and started in on another giant unfinished fantasy series... The Way of Kings sets the stage in a world where massive storms charge crystals with energy which is used to power magic, alchemy, and magic-tech artifacts. Most powerful and coveted of these artifacts are the shardblades and shardplate, respectively lightsaber and power armor analogs. On the good side, Sanderson does a wonderful job creating a world that is not another dark ages Europe riff. In this case, the massive, recurring storms produce a landscape that seems inspired by both desert and aquatic boundary lands. The magical elements both fit into and inform the society on display. And the characters have fairly well done motivations. Unfortunately, not everything is as well put together as the worldbuilding and magic.

As you might expect with the first of an intended ten book series, it has a serious case of not-finished-here plotting. To the point that one of the three primary threads seems to exist only to set up for the next book. The introductory chapter should have been excised for use way down the road when it will presumably have more context as it was never referred to again in the story. One glaring issue for me constitutes a spoiler so I can't go into it too much. I will just say that there are a couple moments where personal codes result in decisions that really, really don't make sense in the framework of the novel's world. One of them in particular is completely pivotal to a character's arc, and while it didn't completely kill my enjoyment, it sure did pull me out enough to see the plot gears grinding underneath.

So what we have here is an extremely well done world with some fairly well put together characters in a story that doesn't completely conclude itself within the pages. My verdict? If you enjoy swords and sorcery epics, and can tolerate the multi-year waits inherent to the multi-volume series, you will find much to like here.

No comments: