The Way of Kings
|The Way of Kings>|
by Michael Whelan
|Released||August 31, 2010|
It has three main characters and several minor characters, many of whom are explored through Interludes.
I long for the days before the Last Desolation.
The world became ours, and we lost it. Nothing, it appears, is more challenging to the souls of men than victory itself.
Or was that victory an illusion all along? Did our enemies realize that the harder they fought, the stronger we resisted? Perhaps they saw that the heat and the hammer only make for a better grade of sword. But ignore the steel long enough, and it will eventually rust away.
There are four whom we watch. The first is the surgeon, forced to put aside healing to become a soldier in the most brutal war of our time. The second is the assassin, a murderer who weeps as he kills. The third is the liar, a young woman who wears a scholar's mantle over the heart of a thief. The last is the highprince, a warlord whose eyes have opened to the past as his thirst for battle wanes.
One of them may redeem us.
And one of them will destroy us.
The book is set on Roshar and follows the stories of Kaladin, Dalinar Kholin, and Shallan Davar. There are also several minor characters who receive viewpoints; Szeth, Adolin Kholin, Wit, and Navani Kholin in the main text, and several others in the Interludes.
Kaladin is the focus character of the novel. At the beginning of his story, he is a squadleader in Amaram's army. His storyline then cuts to his time as a slave. He is sold to Sadeas's warcamp, where he is placed in Bridge Four, and made to run headlong into enemy fire with the rest of his bridgecrew to give the army a way to cross the chasms. After a period of despair, Kaladin works to improve the life of his bridgecrew. He trains them so that the bridge runs won't tire them out so much, saves the lives of injured bridgemen, and slowly gets them to start caring again, and to see themselves as soldiers. Kaladin also plans to find a way to escape from Sadeas's army.
Kaladin faces the internal struggles of his inability to save those around him and his distrust of any lighteyes, both of which are resolved with the climax of the novel.
As the focus character of The Way of Kings, Kaladin's past is viewed through the use of flashbacks. The flashbacks show his childhood and his surgeon apprenticeship under his father, as well as how he joins the army and why he became a slave.
Dalinar Kholin's story centers around the politics of the Alethi nobility.
Following his brother Gavilar's assassination, Dalinar took his last words to heart, and began following the Alethi Codes of War and the teachings of The Way of Kings, a book written by Nohadon. He is plagued by visions of the past during every highstorm, and has a strong sense that the war on the Shattered Plains is not what the king needs to be focused on, but rather uniting the Alethi highprinces completely. Following the betrayal by Torol Sadeas, he finally drops politics and embraces the Blackthorn, realizing that he must force the highprinces to unite and finish the war quickly, so they may focus on the Desolation to come.
Shallan Davar becomes the ward of the rather infamous scholar Jasnah, in the hopes of stealing her Soulcaster. Her story is a mostly an internal conflict between continuing her wardship, which she loves, and stealing the fabrial to help her family. As her conflict progresses, Shallan begins to draw mysterious spren when she's not paying attention, and she believes she is going mad. Things come to a head when her love interest Kabsal is caught trying to poison Jasnah, and Shallan's theft is revealed. She confronts Jasnah, who can also see the spren and can Soulcast without the use of a fabrial, and she reveals that she is researching the Voidbringers.
Szeth's story is told through the Interludes. A Truthless of Shinovar, he is first introduced when he famously assassinates King Gavilar of Alethkar. Known as the Assassin in White, he goes through several masters before getting orders to assassinate several highranking people by a mysterious master. Hating himself, he murders the people on his list until he gets to King Taravangian, who turns out to be the man holding his oathstone.
Roshar has several magic systems. Most of these are used by the Knights Radiant orders, with some of these powers including Soulcasting and Surgebinding. Independent of the Radiant orders is the Old Magic.
The Ten Essences have not been elaborated on much in the book, though they have something to do with Soulcasting.
The Way of Kings consists of one prelude, one prologue, seventy-five chapters, ten of which are reserved for flashbacks of the focus character of the book, nine interludes and one epilogue, reaching a total 384,265 word count. There are seventeen different unique point-of-view characters in a total of 123 POVs, although twelve of these characters occupy a much shorter portion of the book than the other five.