Originally published: August 31, 2010
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Series: The Stormlight Archive
Publisher: Tor Books
I pity the newcomer.
Yes, I do. I sympathize with those who have just arrived to explore the rich, extensive worlds of Mr. Sanderson — an author who is extremely prolific and very fond of series, which makes a new reader’s life hard when it comes to choose: what should I start reading?
Well, let me help you, my dear fellow reader: start here.
If you have never read a word for Mr. Sanderson before, it is absolutely acceptable to start with this book. Though heed my words, this is a massive, heavy, gigantic tome of 1000 plus pages, that can crush your foot if it falls on it, so you need to determine first if you are really into epic fantasy in the first place.
Don’t let the word EPIC slip you, because it is not used here to mean GREAT, or EXCELLENT. It means a painfully detailed world built from scratch — something Mr. Sanderson is popular for. It means large scale battles, whole nations at war, multiple POVs, towering stakes, worlds perishing…etc.
The story follows three characters, each with a distinct voice and backstory. You have Kaladin, a warrior-turned-slave; then Shallan, a mysterious woman with an agenda of her own; and finally Dalinar, the near-insane king’s uncle. You have powerful artifacts that are usable only by a selected few, you have some sort of a caste system, and you have immensely rich history and lore.
You do know how difficult it is to write a good prologue, right? Well, Mr. Sanderson has actually written an excellent prologue. The way it is delivered (4500 years before the story) hints at a massive world even from the first couple of pages. Mr. Sanderson brings something quite unique to the table, which is his experience, not only talent.
That’s nice, but no book is perfect, right?
True. This novel is no ‘light reading’. You will be showered with names, titles, kings, battles, magical expressions, strange creatures the whole time. Though not delivered in an overwhelming manner, it is still going to absorb your focus for a long time. The book is very dense, and understanding who works for whom, and who’s in cahoots with whom, and which king relates to which court will take you some time.
Verdict? If you know what the word ‘epic fantasy’ truly means, and you like this subgenre, then by all means, this book is for you.