Archive for The Way of Kings

May-December Romance

Posted in Events, New release with tags , , , on December 20, 2010 by jaclemens

In May I attended an event where Brandon Sanderson read from Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens and The Way of Kings. Following the reading I went to see Iron Man 2 with my brother Chris.

In December I attended an event where Brandon Sanderson signed the aforementioned books. After the signing I rented – what else? – Iron Man 2 and watched it with my kids!

(No, that isn’t War Machine on the cover!)

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Chasmic

Posted in Fiction, New release, Recommendations with tags , , , , , on September 15, 2010 by jaclemens

High fantasy has a new standardbearer in Brandon Sanderson. Like the pair of figures on the cover by the incomparable Michael Whelan, he stands on both sides of the divide, simultaneously completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series while launching his own mega- series, The Stormlight Archive. The first book in the series, The Way of Kings, is truly a tome in the Middle French/Latin/Greek sense of the word. From the prelude to the Ars Arcanum more than a thousand pages later, this is a massive book, both in size and in scope. The publisher Tor is committed to developing an author’s career, and the support behind this ambitious work with its Whelan cover, close to 30 interior illustrations, and hefty page count heralds a prodigious career for Sanderson.

The prelude opens with the Heralds, incarnate representatives of the Almighty, abandoning their posts as protectors of mankind. The subsequent scene, the assassination of a king, occurs some 4500 years later. Chapter one follows five years after that prologue. This is a world (and a book) steeped with history, mythology, and religion. Along the way Sanderson incorporates culture and caste, ecology and economics, philosophy and politics. It is a complete world, attesting to the depth of Sanderson’s imagination.

The world of Roshar is beset by highstorms, or worldwide hurricanes, which rise repeatedly yet irregularly. The planet’s wildlife has adapted accordingly, producing skyeels and retractable blades of grass. Roshar’s human inhabitants are accustomed to the highstorms,  but their innate tendencies aren’t as malleable. For every unusual species of flora and fauna there is a common human foible. The planet may be alien, but its people are flawed humans with recognizable traits. This combination of a highly inventive yet fully realized world with original yet identifiable characters is the source of fascination in Sanderson’s writing.

Stormlight is the source of magical attributes in this series, hence it is The Stormlight Archive. Gemstones infused with stormlight can be used to power anything from spanreeds to Shardplate to Surgebinding. How does it work? As extensive as The Way of Kings may be, it is still the first book of a lengthy series so a reader cannot expect to have a thorough understanding, although Sanderson’s magic systems are always well-grounded.

His characters may or may not be well -grounded, depending on the individual character, but Sanderson’s characters are always well-motivated. The Way of Kings concentrates on three principle characters: Kaladin, Shallan, and Dalinar. Kaladin is so gifted with a spear his men call him Stormblessed. His prowess in battle leads not to glory but to slavery. Shallan is a clever young woman who ventures far from her family’s estate to petition a renowned scholar to take her on as her ward. Dalinar is the brother of the assassinated king, a fearsome warrior who seems to be losing his edge in combat and in his mind. These characters never deviate from their motives in spite of the tremendous impediments they encounter. Sanderson is a terrific worldbuilder and an intricate plotter, but his true achievement is in the characters who navigate both. A novel/series of this magnitude requires a host of such characters; an abbreviated list would be a worthwhile addition to the Ars Arcanum.

There is a great deal to keep track of in this book, and appendices are welcome. The Way of Kings is Sanderson’s best book yet, but Tor held off publishing it until after the Mistborn series for good reason. It would be a daunting first-time read. Devoted readers of Robert Jordan, Frank Herbert, and George R.R. Martin would find familiar footing here, but those who are new to epic fantasy should begin with one of Sanderson’s earlier works before attempting this summit. The journey must come before the destination.

Sanderson Only

Posted in Events with tags , , , , on June 3, 2010 by jaclemens

Only a reading and signing by Brandon Sanderson could get me to attend CONduit, Salt Lake City’s annual sci fi and fantasy convention! I’m a fan, but conventions aren’t really my scene. I bought this deluxe single event pass and got my money’s worth! Sanderson read from two of his upcoming books: Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens, the fourth book in his Alcatraz series for middle readers, and The Way of Kings, the first book in his new Stormlight Archives series. In addition to a magnificent cover by Michael Whalen The Way of Kings will have about 25 interior illustrations, all of which were on display. They exhibit an Oriental influence and heightened my anticipation for its’ release on August 31st!