If you’ve been following me on Goodreads or maybe just good ol’ Twitter, you know that I currently had myself committed to starting The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson. So I just started The Way of Kings, which is the first book in the series, a couple of weeks ago and, boy, am I really slacking off in my progress.
A bit of context about how I came about this series and why I am reading it now is in order first, I guess. I always saw The Stormlight Archive being given some attention in Tor.com, one of my favorite sites in terms of SFF and other nerdy stuff. I tried looking into it and discovered that it’s an ongoing series by Brandon Sanderson, the person who completed The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan after his death. While I haven’t read The Wheel of Time, it’s easy to know the name and the series since this is considered one of those big franchises in the adult SFF community. So yeah, that piqued my interest already.
And then the Rhythm of War, fourth book of The Stormlight Archive, is set to be published this November – so the series has been gaining traction once again. I was set to go through The Way of Kings in audiobook, initially, because it was too long. Then I discovered that it was waaaay too expensive ($60+ for non-members, $40+ for members, come on?!), so I decided to wait for my monthly Audible credit to get it. When I got it, I tried listening to it for a couple of minutes and it didn’t take no more than the Prelude for me to realize that this book is not meant to be listened to but should be read in print (at least, for the first time). So I ordered a copy from the local bookstore (400+ Pesos or $8+) and after a week of waiting, I got it!
I gotta tell you: it was massive. It’s more-than-a-thousand-page kind of mammoth (I got the mass market paperback version, so it’s extra chunky) and it made me giddy all over because it’s been a long time since I’ve read an epic fantasy in this level (the last was waaaay back 2012, A Song of Ice and Fire). I am a slow reader so I rarely read books this long. I know it would take a lot of time for me to get through this so good luck to me.
I finished Part 1 of this book (I think it’s divided into 5 parts) yesterday and I just started with Part 2 – and so far? I am loving it. The moment I tried reading it in ebook, I know the book would be too immersive and the story epic – you can tell from the very first pages that this is ambitious as it gets. As with other epic fantasy books, I can’t seem to keep some of the names in my head but that can be remedied. The thing that I learned reading epic fantasy books throughout the years is that you just have to soldier through.
Spoiler alert from this point on ++
I find the Prelude (to the whole series?) really intriguing and it set the stage to how the book would go- with so much comprehensive backstory and lore, and much characters. From reading the book blurb, it seems that this is from the perspective of one of the Heralds at the point where they “abandoned” Roshar. There is mention of dying over and over again (for something? I don’t know.) and them being so tired of it (the “cycle of Desolation”). This was the day the “Oathpact ended”, leaving only one person to shoulder the burden (I wonder what happened to him now). This particular line gave me chills:
There, in Jezrien’s eyes, Kalak saw anguish and grief. Perhaps even cowardice. This was a man hanging from a cliff by a thread. Almighty above, Kalak thought. You’re broken too, aren’t you? They all were.
On to Part One, 4,500 years later (which was quite a jump!). The prologue narrates the assassination of the king, Gavilar Kholin, which was pretty exciting to read (that brilliant decoy strategy!). I am guessing this would be pivotal to the next events in this book.
Another time jump to 5 years after the assassination, and we were introduced to a more linear storytelling. It alternates between Kaladin’s and Shallan’s POV. For Kaladin (Stormblessed), from being a spirited young general – respected by his comrades – to being a branded slave, slowly wasting away with too much potential. We were also introduced to Syl, a spren following him around which was also interesting to read. It was so hard to watch the later parts of his chapters in Part 1 because of the contrast from when we first meet him in the battlefield. But then it picked up and the last few pages was of him “coming back to life” and owning his narrative once again – one last push, one last try (“I’m already dead. You can’t hurt me. Understand?“).
We also have Shallan Davar, a young lady seeking to be a ward of the renowned heretic, Jasnah Kholin. Heretic has always had a negative connotation for me – but looking at it’s definition objectively, it just means that someone is an “unorthodox thinker” – which I find interesting in a female character, especially in an epic fantasy nonetheless. This already gave an impression and a personal expectation that the female characters in this book are not those run-of-the-mill heroines peppered in popular fiction nowadays. I am not that captivated with Shallan’s narrative at this point in the game as I want but I am intrigued with the mystery of the happenings in her home before she left, that prompted her to seek out Jasnah and try to steal her Soulcaster.
There’s also the matter of ‘sprens’ that is peppered throughout the pages. I tend to circle them out whenever I see a new type of spren because they are just too many, and they’re honestly something that is very unique to the world. I read up on them on the Wiki because it is just too interesting but then I was bombarded by spoilers that I didn’t ask for so I just stopped researching stuff altogether. I really enjoyed reading about Syl and Kaladin’s interactions. I was really touched when Syl brought a Blackbane leaf to Kaladin right when he was about to jump down the chasm, not even knowing that they’re poison, just because she thought it would make him happy.
++ Spoiler alert finished
I’ve had a bunch of Twitter interactions with people who have already read this book and they said that they absolutely loved it. I’ve also read and watched a couple of reviews and it just made me more excited to be go through this book. I actually find the writing very easy to read, which is surprising for epic fantasy. Though I must admit that the beginning is pretty slow but it’s okay with me personally because I like slow books with a lot exposition. I like books that requires effort more, you can say. I also appreciate that the book has a lot of illustrations/exhibits in it, which makes for a more unique reading experience. There are a couple of epigraphs placed at the beginning of each chapter and I’m still figuring out how they relate to the story in general. I also found myself referring back to the blurb at the back of the book again and again. And oh, Ali Abdaal referenced the Stormlight Archive oath in one of his videos (“Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.“) – which made me really giddy when I came across it this week.
This is a different kind of reading diary from what I’ve done before because I just honestly want to keep opinions straight and record my reading experience for me to remember it because I feel that this will be a long ride. I recently got it in ebook because I can’t read it when I’m in bed due to the lighting. So now, I tend to bust open my Kindle and get some quick reading done before going to sleep – which helped a lot in accelerating my progress. That’s another $10+ in this book. I spent so much already. This better be worth it. 🙂
I was honestly hesitant to post this because these are just random thoughts and I feel like it doesn’t make any sense – but with this word count? I figured I should just go ahead. No one cares, anyway. Thank you for reading my word-vomit for this book if you even stuck around to finish this. 😀 Wrote this 5 days ago at around the 200+ page mark. And now, I am at Chapter 23, page 431 (Part 2). It’s almost like I already read 2 full-length novels and I’m still not tired – which is kind of a miracle for me. See you in the next reading diary for The Way of Kings!