The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

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The basics

Title: The Way of Kings

Author:

Series: The Stormlight Archive #1

- The Way of Kings (2010)
- Words of Radiance (2014)
- Skybreaker

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

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 soiless 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.

in short

Kaladin was captured and trained to be part of Bridge 4 for Sadeas’ army. He eventually starts to lead the group because they all end up loving him. He gets left outside during a highstorm, which is when people start to realise he has some weird powers going on with him because no one should be able to survive that. Meanwhile, Dalinar, the king’s uncle, has been experiencing weird visions. People think he’s a bit crazy, but he pulls through and then after a betrayal from Sadeas, Kaladin saves his life. SHIP. Shallan has worked as a ward for a powerful woman, and steals her Soulcaster. However it tuns out that she doesn’t need a Soulcaster to Soulcast. Jasnah and Shallan team up and it’s revealed that Jasnah thinks there Parshmen are Voidbringers.

what went down

  • The prelude is about the Heralds (leaders of the Knights Radiant), who have been fighting Voidbringers for thousands of years. Usually the Heralds are to die in battle, before being reborn and starting the cycle again. The Heralds decide they’ve had enough of this, and they abandon one of their own so the rest of them can gtfo. The Shardblades and Shardplates come from these guys.
  • Skip forward a few thousand years, and we meet our main characters: Kaladin (swoon), Dalinar (SWOON), Shallan, and also Szeth and Hoid.
  • Szeth is basically an assassin and is sent to murder the king of Alethkar. He is very reluctant to do this but he is forced to. It’s revealed that he has a Shardblade later on, and also has an ability called Surgebinding.
  • The Parshendi take credit for this murder, which brings about the War of Reckoning between the Alethi and the Parshendi.
  • We meet Dalinar, who is the brother of the murdered king. We find out that the king left a message before he died, telling Dalinar to use an ancient book called The Way of Kings.
  • Kaladin, my precious, was trained as a surgeon before joining an army. He is caught and enslaved, and sent to work as a bridgeman for Bridge 4, part of Sadeas’ army in the War of Reckoning.
  • Kaladin starts talking to a spren called Syl, who is adorable and I would totally ship it except… yeah. She’s lovely to him and she loves him because he’s honourable and kind.
  • Dalinar starts to get visions in which he sees the Knights Radiant. Throughout the book, they start to reveal things about the Voidbringers, amongst over things.
  • Shallan has been sent to work for Jasnah (Dalinar’s niece) in order to secure a Soulcaster so she can switch her own broken one with it.
  • Kaladin takes control of Bridge 4 (because they love him) and he makes them use their bridge as a shield in battle. He gets beaten, and is left outside overnight during a Highstorm, which should really have killed him but for some reason he survived.
  • Kaladin seems to have the power to drain Stormlight from spheres.
  • Dalinar’s nephew, the new Alethi king, starts to become paranoid that someone wants to take his life. Dalinar tries to deal with him but struggles.
  • Dalinar doesn’t really want to fight thanks to the visions, and his son, Adolin, thinks he’s a bit weird for suddenly changing his mind because, hello, they are at war.
  • Shallan ends up using the Soulcaster, turning a goblet into blood. Gross. People think she has tried to kill herself.
  • It’s revealed that Kaladin joined the army when he was younger, along with his brother in a true Katniss/Prim moment. Unfortunately, he’s unable to protect his brother, or anyone else in his crew, and this really gets to him. Understandable.
  • Dalinar hears the voice again telling him to “unite them”. He sees an old guy who tells him stuff about the Knights Radiant standing again, and the man claims to be God.

how did it end?

Sadeas betrays Dalinar when they’re out fighting the Parshendi, and basically leaves him and his crew to die. Kaladin realises what’s going on and goes to save Dalinar, and a ship is born. Shallan discovers that Jasnah’s Soulcaster is fake, meaning Jasnah and Shallan can both Soulcast without a Soulcaster. Jasnah reveals her research about the Knights Radiant and the Voidbringers, and the pair get ready to travel to the Shattered Plains to meet with Dalinar.

anything else

Stormlight: Energy given off by high storms. Can be stored in gem stones and apparently used by Kaladin.
Voidbringers: Unknown, creepy beings.
Shardbearers: People who possess Shardblades.
Honorblades: An epic form of Shardblade.
Shardblades: A magically-enhanced blade.
Shardplates: A magically-enhanced plate of armour. Recharged by Stormlight.
Surgebinding: The ability to control gravity.
Soulcaster: An object that allows people to transform things into other things.

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