Monday, August 08, 2011

Group Read - The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson - Part 1

Brandon Sanderson, widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, begins a grand cycle of his own, with The Way of Kings, Book One of the Stormlight Archive.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.
This is the first part of a group read hosted by Deanna from Polishing Mud Balls. If you are interested in joining in, you can find all the information on her read-along blog. Let me just say that this book was very readable from the beginning and I am very excited to read more!

Deanna's Questions for Week 1:

1. Before I started reading The Way of Kings, I did have some thoughts on how I would like this story; did you? If you did, how is The Way of Kings actually comparing to those thoughts?
Well, a small part of me was hoping maybe I would hate it. I know, it sounds crazy but this is going to be a huge series and I am terrible with series... Then, the majority of me was hoping that I would love it because I have been saying all year I don't read epic fantasy novels like I used to enjoy regularly. I think I am going to love this book, so the majority of my hopes are living out. I enjoy the setting and the characters so far. I am looking forward to watching the plots play out.

2. What do you think of the pace of this story? so far. And what do you think of the prose? Do you think the prose is too descriptive? Not descriptive enough? Give me your thoughts on the writing thus far.
Well, the writing is not too descriptive for me. I hate it when a book is too descriptive, so I am happy that this one seems to be flowing really well for me. When there are lots of descriptions I haven't felt tempted to skim through them either, so I am hoping that will continue for the entire book. I was a little worried about the pacing because he is trying to show what is going on several places, but it hasn't been so bad so far. The book is moving along rather well and I actually found the first section a quick read once I sat down and concentrated.

3. What was your favorite part of this first section?
I think my favourite part was when Shallan was discussing books with Jasnah. Even though they are not books that exist in our world, it is always fun to witness a book discussion. I also am enjoying watching the characters develop. They all have interesting stories that I want to learn more about. From the book description you know there is a lot more to learn and there are a lot more pages to learn from!

4. Which character(s) do you find most interesting and why?
That's a hard question. So far I am curious and interested in all of them. I want to know more about them and who they are. I think it might be too early for me to pick an overall favourite. We haven't visited with them long enough to entirely get a grasp of their personalities and what they are going to bring to the book.

5. All right, what I really want to know is... what do you think of this book overall? so far. Are you finding the story easy to follow? Are you fascinated, interested? Is the book holding your attention? Are you Bored? Indifferent? Please share your overall thoughts.
I am really enjoying this book so far! I wish my hard copy of the book would arrive so I can flip around easier to write these posts, but the mail seems to be a bit slow! I am interested in the story and what is going to happen next. I look forward to seeing more from the characters. I am interested in seeing some of the things mentioned in the books description play out. I am looking forward to starting the second section, which I probably will have done by the time this post actually posts.


  1. What a perfect summing up you have here! Way to go! I'm feeling about the same way so far on all the questions. Check out my post tomorrow.

  2. Have you read Mistborn? It's the only Brandon Sanderson book I've read but I LOVED it! And it is an epic fantasy, but, as I recall, it can pretty much be read as a standalone. Anyway, if you like Brandon Sanderson but you don't like too much of the epic-ness of epic fantasy, I think you might like Mistborn (I reviewed it on my blog)


  3. I really enjoyed the book discussion with Jasnah as well. In fact my favorite scene was when Shallan was in the bookstore.

    I laughed when I read that a part of you wanted to hate the book. I know what you mean. The first book in a ten book series. And its a massive book. But I'm glad you like it. It's a fun book to read while I'm on my deck avoiding real work, like doing dishes.

    I'm with you, I couldn't decide about the characters yet. I don't know which one I like the most since we don't know a lot about them.

    And I can't wait to see what happens next!

  4. First off, don't forget to post a link to this over on the group read site in the Mr. Linky section.

    Nice synopsis of the book thus far.

    I can easily relate with your thoughts about wanting to hate it. I certainly hated to think about tackling this one not only because the book is just too big but also because I am not thrilled with long series of books. But thus far this book is as enjoyable as any really good fantasy I've read and if it continues to go this way my praises for Sanderson will just get louder and louder.

    We are all taking on an epic quest, the same as Sanderson is in writing it and the same as his characters are undertaking. It makes for an interesting engagement with the book.

    Your mention of the book discussion reminds me that I enjoy the fact that in Sanderson's world reading books is not seen as something a man would or should do and yet even early on he has indicated a couple of different male characters who obviously read. I like the unspoken idea that books are just too irresistible, even when society may frown on one for reading.

  5. I did check before I started reading how old Sanderson is, knowing that this was the first book in a series. I kind of wanted to make sure he would actually be able to finish the series. That might make me a terrible person, but whatever.

    I like that you posted a synopsis of the book before jumping into the questions.

    Jasnah was such an interesting character. It's rare that one sees an atheist in epic fantasy, particularly one who is portrayed in a positive light. I like that she's a scholar, not just a rebel, and makes an effort to understand the philosophies of the world beyond her own country.

  6. Not that any of us can know exactly how much time we have left, but it is comforting that Brandon Sanderson is still very young and that it looks like he's planning on having book 2 out in 2012 and book 3 out in 2013. That bodes well for him staying on track to finish the series in a "reasonable" amount of time. I have to also believe that working on Jordan's stuff after seeing what happened to him is motivation to devote himself to this project that will probably be seen as his "life's work" regardless of what else he does.

  7. I am with you, when I am reading the description, I am not tempted to skim over it. I also hope that stays true for the rest of the book.

    I am curious about all the characters too, but Kaladin is really holding my attention.

    You have been reading this on your e-reader. I cannot read a book of this size on my e-reader for the reasons you state...I need to be able to flip through the pages for writing posts. But, I also like to actually see the progress I made, and the point to where I want to read.

  8. Let's all pray for Sanderson's health and well-being because I really like the book so far! I loved the bookstore too. It was so amusing the idea that it wasn't appropriate for men to read, and the owner kept talking about how he had had certain books read to him. Picturing it make me chuckle a little for some reason. Let's also pray that by the end of the series, it will be acceptable for the men to read, lol.

  9. I would certainly be a blasphemer in that universe, as I would be one of those men who--horror!--would go ahead and read anyway.

  10. I also loved all the bookish stuff, including Shallan and Jasnah's bookish talks and her visit to the bookstore. I feel sorry for all the menfolk who aren't allowed to read, though. Poor souls. At least they're aloud to listen to women read aloud.

  11. **Suey: Thanks Suey!

    **Sharry: I have plans to read Mistborn, but not sure when that will be. Glad to hear it is so good, though!

    **TBM: I think my problem with the characters is that they are all so well-written it is hard to choose!

    **Carl: Yes, this is a huge undertaking and I don't have the best track record in the world for finishing long books or long series.

    **bookswithoutanypictures: Yes, several series I have read lost the author partway through. It's sad when that happens!

    **Carl: I hope he can stay on track for book releases and not start going years between books...

    **ibeeeg: I received my physical copy of the book, but it got a bit lost and it is destroyed. I am in email discussions about how to go about getting another copy...

    **Shelley: I think the woman reading for the men opens up an interesting storyline. They don't fight with the men, but they still hold an important role. I also enjoyed that in Dalinar's flashback in the second section it showed that women used to fight and I hold out hope that things move back in that direction.

    **Carl: I am sure men do read, they just don't admit it.

    **Memory: Listening to books being read aloud is fun, too.

  12. Sanderson has already hinted that some men read, but as you see more in the second session most really and truly don't read and would feel that it is sacrilegious or immoral to do so.


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