The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson or what I read in June 2017

cover of the way of kings part one by brandon sanderson
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June was a good reading month for me. I have read four books which in the world of avid readers might not seem so much but two of those books where over a 1000 pages long. Reading two books with 1000+ pages is quite an accomplishment for me. Plus with these two I can tick off one more of my reading goals for 2017, which is read an epic/high fantasy series.

But I don’t want to blabber further without divulging the titles. The two long books where the first two books of Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive series, The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance. These are the two books published so far but it looks like this is going to be a monster of a series with 10 books, if I’m not mistaken. Can’t wait to the next one to be published as both of these were 5* reads for me, and a 5* rating is not something I give out too often.

I love fantasy and have previously read YA fantasy (one example, Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series) plus I love Game of Thrones, so my goal for this year was to get into adult fantasy, high fantasy. Brandon Sanderson was the first high fantasy author I read, and I was not disappointed. The man is a genius!

If you are not familiar with the genre I would not recommend starting with these books. Get a feel of it by reading the Throne of Glass series, for example, or watch the Game of Thrones (if you’re not watching it already, you are aren’t you…? if not, start immediately!).

What you have to know about high fantasy is that it tends to be quite complicated, see Game of Thrones as an example. Meaning, it takes time to get into it, to know the world, understand the characters and get a picture of where the plot is going. The pace tends to be snail-slow, but if you love fantasy you will want it to be even longer because the details make it so much more vivid. The slower the pace the better the world building, the better and detailed the characters and better and more complex the plot. Slow means better, in every way. So, if you’re used to fast paced reads, this might be hard to get into, but wait for it, it’s worth it.

So, The Stormlight Archive series is set in Rochar, a mythical world plagued by huge storms which sweep across the land at regular intervals. It is a world where ancient wisdom, magic and practices have been forgotten but current events reawaken some of that ancient magic. That magic will be needed again. It is a world of the Knights Radiant and their mystical weapons and power, Shardblades and Stormlight. There is a book which tells the story of how men should live, which is called The Way of Kings and the code by which they live, and which awakens their magical powers are called Words of Radiance.

The books are written in multiple perspectives, in the first book we get to know brightlord Dalinar Kholin, commaner of armies and obsessed with the ancient wisdom described in The Way of Kings. Another great character is Kaladin, warrior turned slave, who despite all that has happened to him, does everything in his power to save the lives of his men. And we meet Shallan, who trains to be a scholar under the supervision of Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah.

The world building in these books is absolutely mind boggling. I have read that Sanderson spent years of research before he wrote the first book and I can see why. The amount of detail going on in there is astounding. This is not a book to be forgotten after you finish reading it. The magical world will be a place you will want to revisit again and again.

But be prepared to not understand most of the things happening. Knowledge is divulged slowly and sporadically. You have to remember that the characters themselves don’t know what’s happening or how things work. It’s a world where women of certain status hide one of their arms, so imagine them wearing clothes with a longer arm on one hand where the opening is sowed in. Why? I have no idea, and I can’t wait to find out. Even though sometimes I think Sanderson might keep that knowledge to himself. It’s amazing how some things are explained in such a great detail, while others are left in mystery. It keeps me wanting to read and makes me wonder. It is one of the keys to a great story, I believe. I highly recommend these books! Can’t wait to pick up more of Brandon Sanderson’s work.

OK, I’ve been going on and on about The Stormlight Archive, and I have yet to name the other two books I read.

The third book I read was the third book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, Ruin and Rising. I was too stubborn in wanting to finish this trilogy. I mildly enjoyed the first book, Shadow and Bone, and was terribly bored by the second book Siege and Storm. I was stubborn because I wanted to read Six of Crows, even though I knew that you don’t need to have read the trilogy in order to understand the book. I am reading Six of Crows at the moment and it is true, but… I would miss out on some of the details and characters without the previous knowledge of the world.

The books bored me, I didn’t enjoy the plot, cared nothing (nothing!) for the main character and generally I felt that it was badly written. The story is inspired by Russia and the book is dotted with Russian names and words, in Italic (why?!). A book won’t have a Russian character just by naming the character Alina Starkov and by translating some words into Russian. Plus, I’m not Russian, but even I know that a woman cannot have Starkov as a family name, it should be Starkova, with an ‘a’ at the end. So bad, bad and more bad.

The last book I read was Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. This is my second Murakami book, after Kafka on the Shore and I don’t know why I bothered with it after not understanding anything of the first one. I think Murakami is an overhyped author and I simply don’t get the hype. His writing style is alien for me. The way Murakami bends our reality is exceptional, his characters are well developed, and the writing is good… but the plot? And the elements pertaining to magical realism are things which I cannot put together. I can’t see where the ending nor the beginning is. Murakami’s books are unique, I have definitely not read anything remotely similar to his books. So even though this book was not for me, I, somehow, have the feeling I will not give up on Murakami just yet.

I have rambled on for quite a while, so just to sum up, read The Stormlight Archive series if you are into fantasy.

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