review: the way of kings | 1200+ pages of epic fantasy goodness

the way of kingsTitle: The Way of Kings
Series: Stormlight Archive #1
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Published in 2010 by Tor
Genre: epic fantasy (adult)
Rating: ★★★★★ – a new favorite

I long for the days before the Last Desolation. Before the Heralds abandoned us and the Knights Radiant turned against us. When there was still magic in Roshar and honor in the hearts of men. 

In the end, not war but victory proved the greater test. Did our foes see that the harder they fought, the fiercer our resistance? Fire and hammer forge a sword; time and neglect rust it away. So we won the world, yet lost it. 

Now there are four whom we watch: the surgeon, forced to forsake healing and fight in the most brutal war of our time; the assassin, who weeps as he kills; the liar, who wears her scholar’s mantle over a thief’s heart; and the prince, whose eyes open to the ancient past as his thirst for battle wanes. 

One of them may redeem us. One of them will destroy us.

my thoughts on - review black (1)

I put off reading The Way of Kings for years because it is such an intimidating book. It’s an adult epic fantasy novel of over 1200 pages. That’s a serious commitment  reading-wise, is it not? I finally bit the bullet late last year, and I’m so glad I did. After the first few chapters, I found myself falling in love with the characters, and wanting to know more about the world. I’d highly recommend this book, even if it might seem daunting to you.

CHARACTERS

The Way of Kings is a multiple POV fantasy novel with three main perspectives – interspersed with some small chapters from other people’s point of view.

The main characters of this book are Kaladin, Dalinar, and Shallan. I would say that this novel is more of an exploration of their characters and the world, rather than an action-packed fantasy novel. I assume the sequels will focus more on events happening rather than character introduction and build-up, as the first book has set the PoV characters up pretty well. I find it hard to choose a favorite character, to be honest, as they are all intriguing in their own way.

There are other characters who have their own POV as well, but don’t have as much page-time as the previous three, such as Szeth-son-son-Vallano (who is endlessly intriguing), Adolin Kholin (Dalinar’s son), and Navani Kholin (widow of King Gavilar).

Kaladin is the character you would follow to your own death, but is simultaneously the one you want to wrap in a blanket and protect from the universe. Dalinar is a man to look up to, one you can’t help but admire, even if you feel he’s somewhat naive at times. In fact, he reminds me a lot of A Song of Ice and Fire‘s Ned Stark. Shallan is a woman you grow to love and understand. She’s been placed in a position that leaves her unsure of what course to take, and I would not know what to do either. I can’t help but admire her eagerness to learn, and adore her witty retorts. I also wish I could draw even half as well as her.

“Ignorance is hardly unusual, Miss Davar. The longer I live, the more I come to realize it is the natural state of the human mind. There are many who will strive to defend its sanctity and then expect you to be impressed with their efforts.”

There are other characters that are incredibly important to the story, like Jasnah. In fact, she might be my favorite character of all. I don’t want to say too much about her, but know that Jasnah has taken Shallan on as an apprentice. She’s also an atheist in a world where it’s seen as insane, and is a woman who is not afraid to walk her own path, regardless of what other people think.

“Regardless,” Jasnah continued, “tonight’s actions came about because I chose this path, not because of anything I felt you needed to see. However, the opportunity also presented a chance for instruction, for questions. Am I a monster or am I a hero? Did I just slaughter four men, or did I stop four murderers from walking the streets? Does one deserve to have evil done to her by consequence of putting herself where evil can reach her? Did I have a right to defend myself? Or was I just looking for an excuse to end lives?”

I especially loved this conversation she has with someone trying to convert her to their religion.

[talking about being an atheist]

“I wouldn’t say I have nothing to believe in. My brother and my uncle, my own abilities. The things I was taught by my parents.”

“But, what is right and wrong, you’ve… Well, you’ve discarded that.”

“Just because I do not accept the teachings of the devotaries does not mean I’ve discarded a belief in right and wrong.”

WORLD BUILDING

One of the most interesting aspects of this novel is the world-building. We have become quite used to fantastic world-building from Sanderson’s novels, as he always manages to create a new, epic world without confusing the reader. However, the same cannot be said for The Way of Kings. It’s, in my opinion, intentionally confusing at times.

He starts off with the basics of the world: the fact that in Alethkar people with “lighteyes” are nobility, while the “darkeyes” are peasants, the fact that there’s been a war between the countries for years, that they are fighting on the Shattered Plains after Alethkar’s king has been killed by the Parshendi, the highstorms that determine the climate of the world, and so on.

We are also told of a previous time in history, where the Heralds protected humanity and the Knights Radiant were incredible knights/warriors with Shardplate – armor that is almost impossible to breach and lends power to the wearer – and Shardblades – same but a sword. Why the Heralds turned their back to humanity, the Knights Radiant seemengly betrayed the world, and what happened next is a huge mystery throughout this book. Why? Records from that time don’t seem to exist, and so no one truly knows the details of that turning point in history. It’s fascinating to discover more of the world, because it’s not only new to us but to the characters as well.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Way of Kings is such a fascinating start to what I’m sure will be an epic series, and I can’t wait to pick up the sequel. I know it’s daunting to start the Stormlight Archive because the books are so long, but I promise it’s worth it. The first hundred pages or so may seem somewhat confusing or less captivating, but soon you’ll be unable to put the book down. I’m already so attached to these characters, am intrigued by the magic, and excited to discover the history of this world. I recently ordered the sequel, Words of Radiance, and I swear it won’t sit on my bookshelf for a year, unread! I promise. Truly.

Review: The Alloy of Law | Mistborn fun, with a more modern twist

the alloy of lawThe Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4; the Alloy Era #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Published on November 10th 2011 by Gollancz
Genre: epic fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars – ★★★★ 

Centuries after the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is on the verge of modernity – railroads, electric street lights, and skyscrapers. Waxillium Ladrian can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After 20 years in the dusty Roughs, in the city of Elendel, the new head of a noble house may need to keep his guns. my review

Did I just realize, while starting to write this review, that I never even bothered to review the first three books in the series? Yes, I did. Oops. Anyway, I absolutely adored the first Mistborn trilogy. I don’t think that will come as a surprise to anyone, really. I waited quite a while to read The Alloy of Law, because I was scared it wouldn’t live up to the first three books. I’m always quite hesitant with series that span over multiple trilogies/series -if that made any sense.

The Alloy of Law didn’t disappoint, but it didn’t reach the level of the first trilogy for me either.

The plot

The book is set 300 years after the ending of The Hero of Ages. The magic in form of Allomancy is still here, but it now includes a more modern (or steampunk) aspect as well. The world after 300 years includes trains, guns, street lamps, and more. I quite liked the addition of that, especially in combination with Allomancy (like someone who can Pull or Push on bullets or a gun). It adds a level of creativity to the magic we were already familiar with, which I adored. 

What set this apart for me, and made it a fun addition to the original story instead of just a carbon copy, is that this centers around two lawkeepers. Meaning they chase outlaws and bring them back to justice -kind of like a bail bondsperson, I guess. One of them has to return home to his family (because he is part of the nobility) when his uncle passes away and he becomes the heir to the family. It felt like a detective story was added to the good vs. evil fantasy that we were already familiar with.

What did surprise me is that this book is fairly short. I’m not used to fantasy novels being this short, especially Brandon Sanderson’s ones. That made it feel like an introductory piece, instead of the full experience I got from his other books.

The characters

Like I mentioned earlier, this did feel like an introductory piece, both to the world and the characters.

The main character throughout this book is Waxillium, or Wax. For some reason, every time I had to read his full name it turned into Maximilian in my mind. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Then again, what kind of name is Waxillium?? He is the one to return home and take over his duties as head of House instead of being the lawmaker he has been for the past years. I quite enjoyed reading from Wax’s perspective, even though I did get a little bit annoyed at the constant internal battle of should I and shouldn’t I.

Harmony protect us from small-minded men with too much power.

My favorite, however, was Wayne. He was just so hilarious! I loved him so much, and his attachment to his hat was fun to read about. I also loved how he always had Wax’s back, and how he encouraged him to do what he wanted to do instead of what he had to do.

“I thought of you happy in a comfy bed, resting and relaxing, spending the rest of your life sipping tea and reading papers while people bring you food and maids rub your toes and stuff.”
“And?”
“And I just couldn’t leave you to a fate like that.” Wayne shivered. “I’m too good a friend to let a mate of mine die in such a terrible situation.”
“Comfortable?”
“No,” Wayne said. “Boring.” He shivered again.

Wayne is also incredibly good at imitating accents. He knows how to sound like pretty much anyone.

Did people see how their voices were like living things? Move a plant, and it would change and adapt to the environment around it. Move a person, and they way they talked would grow, adapt, evolve.

There were some other characters I really loved, but I don’t want to mention them in case it’s a little spoiler for the events happening in this book. Overall, I liked getting to know these new people, and I can’t wait for the next books.

Conclusion

I think The Alloy of Law was a good segue from the first trilogy into this new series. I enjoyed learning about the new characters, and how the world looked like 300 years later. I do wish it was a bit longer so there could’ve been more development in terms of character and plot, since this did feel like a set-up for the next ones. All in all, another solid read. I can’t wait to find out what happens next to Wax and Wayne.

Mini Reviews | Fantasy Books I Loved Yet Never Reviewed (Part 1)

Here’s a confession: I read quite a few books in 2015 I never got around to reviewing. Yet I truly loved some of those books. So why haven’t I talked about them yet? That’s going to change. I feel like mini reviews will be more helpful to you. Here are 3 fantasy books I read in 2015, absolutely loved, yet never reviewed. 


warbreaker

Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Published in 2009

Genre: Fantasy (Epic)
Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads | Bookdepository

Synopsis: Sisters Vivenna and Siri are princesses of Idris. Susebron is the God King one must marry. Lightsong is the reluctant minor god of bravery. Vasher is an immortal still trying to undo mistakes of centuries before. Magic from individual breath from everyday objects can perform all manner of miracles and mischief.

review

This was my second Brandon Sanderson book, and I loved it just as much as the first – which was The Final Empire, if you’re wondering. First of all, I loved the world in this novel. Magic comes from breath, and the more breath you collect, the more powerful you are. In the Kingdom of Idris, no one has breath because they don’t believe in magic or the Gods. They believe in a simple life. Yet magic is color, which means that Idris is a very dreary place and little color exists there. 

I loved the plot of this book, the schemes and the politics. I love it when fantasy books include political intrigue. There are so many aspects to this story. Religion, politics, family, and so on. Especially religion. In this world, when someone dies and comes back to life, he/she becomes a God(dess). 

I can’t say enough great things about this book. The religion was interesting, the politics intriguing, the schemes endless. Who I loved most of all was Lightsong, a God. His banter is just incredible! And I far preferred Siri over her sister Vivenna, although the latter grew on me over time. 

I’d highly recommend this book, no matter if you’re a fantasy-lover or not. If you haven’t read it, PLEASE GO DO SO.

★★★★★


the name of the wind

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
Published: March 27th 2007 by Penguin Group

Genre: Fantasy (Epic)
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Goodreads | Bookdepository

Synopsis: Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.

review

This book is hard to describe, to be honest. The narration is pretty great, because Kvothe is telling his own story. When the book starts, he owns a tavern. There, he starts recounting his tale to a Chronicler, who writes it all down. Of course, he starts from the beginning and thus this story does as well. It starts with Kvothe as a small child, traveling with his parents in a troupe. 

I’m one of the people who absolutely loved this book. It’s different, and not an easy read if I’m honest. His writing is very eloquent, and captured my attention immediately. So, it all starts when Kvothe is a child. I’m not going to lie, he’s had a pretty rough life. I don’t want to say all that much but I felt so bad for him on many occasions. He’s a smart kid, yet often reckless. I really enjoyed Kvothe’s story, and I definitely want to know how it continues, how he ends up owning a tavern. Yet they are intimidating books, so I’m going to wait with starting the next book until I know I have enough time to finish it right away.

The only thing I did not like about this book were the female characters. The only truly outspoken one is Denna – she’s the only one who is often mentioned. Yet I feel like she is so… nothing. I know that sounds weird. But she’s so dependent on others, manipulates men to get what she wants and doesn’t really seem to do anything. Or be capable of anything other than singing and looking pretty. So I’m hoping that changes in the next book. 

Elodin proved a difficult man to find. He had an office in Hollows, but never seemed to use it. When I visited Ledgers and Lists, I discovered he only taught one class: Unlikely Maths. However, this was less than helpful in tracking him down, as according to the ledger, the time of the class was ‘now’ and the location was ‘everywhere’.

★★★★.5


heart of betrayal

The Heart of Betrayal (Remnant Chronicles #2) by Mary E. Pearson
Published: July 7th 2015

Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads | Bookdepository

I won’t provide a synopsis of this book, as it is the second in the series (trilogy?). If you want to know what this series is about, feel free to read the synopsis of the first book, here

review

I absolutely loved the first book in this series. For those of you who don’t know, the first book revolves around a princess (Lia) who escapes her arranged marriage and runs away. She is followed by the prince she was supposed to marry, and an assassin assigned to kill her. For the first like 70% of the book, you have no clue who the prince is, and who the assassin is. I was afraid that this book would disappoint me a bit, because the whole mystery is gone now. I’m so glad to report it wasn’t. 

There was much more to explore in this book. Not only do you get to know the characters better, especially the two men now that we know who they are, but the world is explored more as well. Lia travels for a long time, across deserts and into harsh lands. It provides an interesting view on the different kingdoms, and their wars with each other. Maybe they wage war just to survive? Also, the religion is interesting here. Lia’s religion is so different from those of the different countries, and she’s trying to figure out what is true. What she should believe. 

I love Lia‘s character. She’s strong, smart, capable, brave yet knows to not take anything for granted. And she knows that she shouldn’t believe everything, just because someone you trusts says so. She questions aspects she grew up with, which shows true character in my opinion. Being able to understand that you were wrong. Also, I love Kaden. I dislike Rafe. THERE, I said it. I hate how the latter is always telling Lia what to do, like she’s not capable of doing anything on her own. So very controlling.

It’s a series I’d highly recommend, if you haven’t read it! I’m looking forward to the release of The Beauty of Darkness.

I had been silenced far too many times by those who exerted power over me. Not here. My voice would be heard, but I’d speak when it served my purposes. I  betrayed neither word nor expression.

★★★★★