The Way of Kings


The Fantasy genre boasts an array of exceptional writers; among them shines Brandon Sanderson, a name synonymous with appealing narratives underscored by intricate plots. Among his numerous contributions, Brandon Sanderson’s magnum opus is arguably the book “The Way of Kings” – the first volume of his ambitious ten-part series “The Stormlight Archive.” 

In 2011, The Way of Kings won the David Gemmell Legend Award for best novel. 

This article delves into this masterfully-crafted novel, exploring its characters, the intricately woven plot, themes, and Sanderson’s unique world-building techniques.

Short facts about “The Way of Kings” 

The Way of Kings was published in the United States on August 31, 2010, as the first book in a planned ten-book series called The Stormlight Archive. It reached spot #7 on the  New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list.

The novel is comprised of  one prelude, one prologue, 75 chapters, one epilogue, and nine interludes.

Genre: Epic High Fantasy

Series: The Stormlight Archive 

Language: English 

Author: Brandon Sanderson 

Cover artist: Michael Whelan

Illustrator: Isaac Stewart, Ben McSweeney, Greg Call

Publisher: Tor Books in the US, Victor Gollancz in the UK
Pages: The first edition, hardcover version, has 1007 pages

Is it available as audiobok?
Yes, there is an unabridged audiobook available. The narrators are Michael Kramer and Kate Reading.
Which is the next book in the series?
The Way of Kings is followed by Words of Radiance, which was first published in 2014. At the time of writing, an additional three books have been released: Oathbringer in 2017, Rhythm of War in 2020, and Wind and Truth in 2024.

Development of  “The Way of Kings” 

Even though the first draft of The Way of Kings were not completed until 2003, Sanderson had been working on pieces for The Way of Kings since the late 1990s, and some characters and scenes in The Way of Kings have their roots in Sanderson’s Honors thesis Dragonsteel (Brigham Young University, 2000). 

After completing the first draft, Sanderson reached out to Tor Publishing, who found the book interesting but also not “quite right” and declined it. After this, Sanderson shifted his focus to the Mistborn trilogy, which was published in 2006-2008. 

In he late 2000s, Sanderson returned to The Way of Kings. In later interviews, he has explained how ihe “threw away everything, and started on page on again”.  

The prologue and the first three chapters of the novel were published as a preview on Tor’s site on June 10, 2010. The three following chapters (4, 5 and 6) were released in audio format on July 8, followed by chapters 9 and 11 on August 5, and 12 and 13 on August 26. According to Tor Publishing, they refrained from releasing the chapters 7, 8 and 10 because the wanted to focus on the Kaladin storyline. 

Why is this such a beloved book? 

An Enthralling Storyline

“The Way of Kings” transports readers to Roshar, a tempestuous world ravaged by remorseless highstorms. The narrative pivots around the existential struggles of multiple characters and nations, plunged into chaos following the assassination of King Gavilar. Sanderson skillfully crafts a tapestry of interconnected stories and narratives revolving around power, honor, and humanity’s will to survive. The story is told from various points of view, including not only five main characters but also a number of minor characters. The five main characters are Kaladin, Shallan Davar, Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Dalinar Kholin, and Adolin Kholin.

Intricate Characterization

Sanderson’s key strength lies in his ability to craft multi-dimensional characters who grapple with their personal demons, aspirations, and conflicting loyalties. These characters often find themselves in the midst of complex political turmoils and deadly wars, reflecting real-life challenges and dilemmas faced by humanity. From the embittered slave Kaladin, the intelligent yet overlooked Shallan, to the honorable but conflicted Dalinar, every character brings depth and richness to the unfolding drama, fully embodying Sanderson’s talent for characterization.

Complex Themes

“The Way of Kings” is not just a tale of epic battles and magical powers. It delves deeper, engaging with a myriad of universal themes including honor, leadership, power, morality, and the meaning of life. The characters’ different perspectives allow the exploration of these themes from various angles, offering readers an engaging and thought-provoking experience.

World-Building Par Excellence

Entrancing world-building sets Sanderson apart from many of his contemporaries. For the novel The Way of Kings, he sets the stage by creating world that is still realing from the effects of events that took place 4,500 years ago. Back then, mankind fought against the Voidbringers in the Last Desolation War and eventually emerged victorius, but at a great cost. 

Sanderson’s world is textured and vibrant, with distinct cultures, languages, socio-political structures, and fascinating magical systems. The psychological adaptation of life-forms to the violent highstorms, such as rock buds, or crustaceans, is a testament to Sanderson’s ingenuity. Spren, manifestations of human emotion and natural forces, add an intriguing supernatural dimension, enriching the narrative dynamics.


“The Way of Kings” is more than a typical fantasy novel. It’s a well-rounded literary masterpiece that explores the human condition, societal structures, and moral dilemmas. With rich, multifaceted characters, in-depth world-building, and gripping storytelling, it’s no surprise that Sanderson’s tale has captured the hearts of millions. For readers who appreciate heavy plotlines and are ready to embark on an epic fantasy journey, “The Way of Kings” is the ultimate escapade. 

The journey through “The Way of Kings” is akin to indulging in a feast – each course (or chapter) is uniquely prepared and expertly served, leaving readers continually yearning for their next serving. Delving into this world designed by Brandon Sanderson opens up numerous avenues for exploration, discovery, and engagement, engaging both first-time readers and veteran fantasy enthusiasts alike.

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