Saturday, October 16, 2010

the way of kings is classic epic fantasy from brandon sanderson

Brandon Sanderson continues to show exactly why he was chosen to help finish Robert Jordan’s epic series The Wheel of Time with his first book in his second series, The Way of Kings: The Stormlight Archive Book One.
The Mistborn Trilogy, Sanderson’s first series has concluded to much critical and box office acclaim and now The Stormlight Archive series has launched with the thumpingly good The Way of Kings.

Sanderson is a fantasy writer of the traditional swords ‘n’ magic sort, but with an ability to add human emotion to inhuman characters, readers are never alienated.
In The Way of Kings, Sanderson introduces us to a world of storm and stone, where wild energy and magic of sorts comes from the devastating storms that lash the world.
A thousand years ago mythical knights protected the land from the depredations of a vicious enemy relying on “Shardblades” and “Shardplate” – armour and swords that give the wearing unending strength and magical powers of healing – to help them.
The knights have disappeared under clouded circumstances and although some Shardblades and Shardplate remain in the hands of a few warlords, it is little enough protection should the ancient enemy return.
As the past is lost in time the current batch of politicians, lords, kings and mercenaries occupy their time fighting seemingly pointless and endless battles. A new enemy has arisen, a race of generally subservient creatures used as slaves, has suddenly acquired a warlike offshoot and must be put down at all cost.
The battlefield is populated by soldiers and slaves, lords and ladies and a young king who has no idea what he is doing fighting this war, or why the enemy continues to hold off his supposedly invincible army led by Shard bearing warriors.
Slave to a lord, a young man who should have been a doctor finds himself becoming a defacto leader, attempting to do the impossible and protect his men; persecuted he begins to realise that he might not be just the simple soldier he always assumed he was.
On the other side of this world a young woman is attempting to ingratiate herself into the retinue of a renowned scholar to both learn but, more importantly, gain access to a coveted item that may, or may not, be able to help her family.
Sanderson deftly weaves these three main strands together with added detail from a plethora of minor characters; there is something moving in the storms, heading towards the heedless army battling for shiny rocks in a devastated landscape.
As with most fantasy novels, The Way of Kings is only the first in Sanderson’s new series that looks set to blow away readers and critics alike.
Sanderson is indeed a worthy heir to Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy crown; can’t wait for the next instalment. 

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is published by Gollancz and is available from good book stores and online.


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