Book Review: The Way of Kings

After nearly two months of reading, I finished the behemoth that is The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. It was an interesting read, and nothing short of awesome in its battles and lore building. Spoilers will be kept at a minimum.

Premise & Worldbuilding

The Way of Kings had deep, deep worldbuilding. The racial factions, creatures, cultures, and politics were extensively documented. Unlike other fantasy novels, I felt emerged in an alien, fantasy universe. I expected nothing less from Sanderson, and plan to read the sequels in the future.


Characters were interesting and unique. The PoV system was a little wonky, and I had difficulty identifying proper protagonists initially. The intrigue among characters kept me reading, and I formed attachments to Kaladin, Dalinar, and Shallan. These three were well-written, and they each have their strengths, flaws, and unique character arcs.

That said, there was plenty of unnecessary, dry dialog between characters. While this did contribute to worldbuilding, it slogged the pacing throughout the—ahem, 1000+ page—book.

Magic System

The magic system used Stormlight gemstones to infuse armor, called Shardplate and Shadeblades. Shard equipment greatly enhanced the physical ability of users, rendered superhuman. Gems also infused certain individuals of Knights-Radiant-blood with Stormlight. This gave Stormlight jewlery a harder-magic approach.

In contrast, soulcasting is another magic system that paralleled Stormlight gemstones. Soulcasting is softer and more whimsical. A soulcaster can manipulate matter at will, leading to unexpected outcomes.

I found that each magic had its roles in the story. The gemstones served better for the gory battle scenes, and the soulcasting for plot devices.


Tension was high throughout the book, and helped with the ponderous nature that plagues epic fantasies. Death, blood, and gore was common, as were gory battlefields. Assassinations filled a handful of chapters. A few romance subplots felt underwhelming and shallow.

Overall Summary

The Good

Worldbuilding, action, and immersion are the highlights of The Way of Kings. Or any Sanderson novel really. Sanderson always delivers in these categories.

The Bad

Romance subplots were underwhelming and emotional depth felt lacking. The sheer extent of worldbuilding is a double-edged sword, slogging the pacing. More on this below.

The Ugly

A few chapters were unnecessary, as were some character scenes. They even time-lapsed, switching between past and present. This was most confusing. The extra lore and worldbuilding took away from the reading experience. I skipped these, instead focusing on the main story. In hindsight, I felt like nothing important was missed.

That’s one of Sanderson’s quirks: a lack of brevity.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Way of Kings has its charms. Despite its slow pacing, dry dialog, odd subplots, and confusing structure, it kept me reading for all of its 1,000+ pages. An impressive feat. That said, I feel a little worse for wear. It’ll be a while until I tackle the sequels.

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Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks for reading!
—Ed R. White

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