5 Reasons Why You Should Check Out The Stormlight Archive If You’re Into Epic Fantasy
Well, here we are. 1,000 pages of Brandon Sanderson’s unparalleled storytelling and creative writing later. Phew. I recently finished The Way of Kings, Book 1 to The Stormlight Archive, and I already feel the need to scream into the world that: IF YOU HAVEN’T PICKED THIS UP YET, WHATCHU DOIN’?
Ordinarily, I would write a review after finishing a book–especially a first book to a series. But really, I went into this fully confident I’ll love it, and I am happy to report that I was sooo right. There’s already a bunch of reviews online critiquing and analyzing Sanderson’s work, and I don’t intend to take it apart like that. My brain’s not big enough to do that here.
So instead of grading this masterpiece, let me tell you straight off the bat why you should start this series if you’re a fan of epic fantasies. Allow me to share 5 points to hopefully convince you to check The Stormlight Archive out.
1. Multiple perspectives to take you all over the map
The main plot of Book 1 revolves around four perspectives from various social standings and influence, and from across different parts of the map. We have a surgeon-turned-soldier, a highprince working next to one of the world’s most powerful Kings in the middle of a war, the son of said highprince worried about his father’s sanity, and a young woman training to be a scholar’s ward-slash-apprentice.
Each of these characters have their own respective arcs that go through rollercoasters of emotion, and you never really know where it’s going. My favorite from Book 1 has got to be Kaladin’s story. His journey from surgeon to soldier, and everything else afterwards was depressing at times, frightening at most, and damn heart-wrenching from start to finish. No more spoilers, but you should definitely watch out for his story.
On top of these main characters, The Way of Kings also has Interludes between major Parts. I believe there’s 3 in total. In these Interludes, we follow different random characters from other places in this HUUGE world. Some POVs have some obvious impact on the current storyline, while others offer other glimpses that will most probably be more relevant in the next books. Either way, it adds such an interesting peek to what else is happening in the world.
2. An incredibly vivid and expansive world
Which brings us to this absolutely gigantic map. In relation to what I mentioned above, the different perspectives–especially in the Interludes–emphasize the sheer size of this world. While our main characters navigate a world in the middle of war, other POVs refer to the six-year siege as some small thing happening someplace else entirely. Absolutely untouched by the horrors happening to our main protagonists.
What I also love about Brandon Sanderson’s world-building is that names on a map aren’t mere abstract titles supplied to fill up a piece of paper. These places are either mentioned from stories, the hometown of other side characters, or the setting where Interlude POVs take place.
And then there’s the whole thing about creatures, hierarchies, race, fashion, and everything else that just makes a world FEEL truly breathing. These are not lacking in The Way of Kings, whatsoever. In fact, I gotta thank illustrations for most of the creatures described here, because my imagination could have never come up with it on its own.
3. High stakes politicking
The highprice (Dalinar) and his son (Adolin)’s perspectives are definitely the ones that are more politics-heavy among the roster of protagonists. I must admit that this is also why they’re my least favorite. But that’s more on the fact that these princes DIDN’T COME TO PLAY. I was always so tense in court scenes because I feel like anything could happen.
But Kaladin also had some moments engaged in politics, may that be from flashbacks when he was a kid still living in a small town, or as an adult traversing the unfair world of powerless men. I’m really trying not to say too much, but let’s just say that Kaladin had (and has) some pivotal exchanges with people in power that have undoubtedly changed the course of his life.
4. Action-filled war setting
A bulk of this first book is set in the middle of a six-year war between the Alethi and the Parshendi, with conflict between the two races stemming from years of unexplainable hostility. There are plenty of violent skirmishes to go around, but what I found most interesting are the settlements established around the war zone area that shows just how long this war has been going on. There are permanent homes, mapped out territories between princes, and a lot of interesting places created amidst war. It’s an interesting look into what soldiers and their communities do when they’re NOT fighting one another.
Moreover, the ACTION is detailed and written so well that it really feels like I was watching a battle happen before my eyes. The tension is HIIIGH as Sanderson’s just the type of author who doesn’t shy away from surprises within battles. I already knew this from reading the Mistborn series many years ago, so I was always in high alert whenever there’s any type of action happening.
….You have been warned.
5. Punch-you-in-your-gut plot progression
Yup, I mean exactly that. There were many moments, in and out of the war zone, where I found myself audibly gasping from sheer surprise at what just happened. From the action, to the politics, or to the crucial secrets revealed that I could have never predicted. This is especially true in the last 100 pages where each chapter felt like it was landing a punch in my stomach.
This is one of those books where you can skim and open a random page towards the end and probably not feel spoiled at all. Because more often than not, it’s not going to make sense without the context of what just happened the chapter before.
The character development here, hand-in-hand with the overall plot, is truly astounding. No one is the same person from the first chapter to the last. Bow down.
Get it. Ha! That’s all I have left to say. This is a thousand pages of some of the best writing and storytelling in Fantasy. And I really don’t think you can ever go wrong with a Brandon Sanderson book if you’re a fan of epic fantasies. Especially one as fleshed out as The Stormlight Archive.
I can’t wait to start Book 2, Words of Radiance, and hopefully catch up soon before the 5th book drops!
What do you think?
- Have you read any Brandon Sanderson books? Or do you have any on your TBR?
- What’s the ultimate selling point for you to check out a series?
- Favorite epic fantasy series?