Jun 10 2010 1:00pm

The Way of Kings: An Introduction

I’ve been asked to introduce The Way Of Kings to you. And I have no idea how to start.

This is an odd position for me. Before, I’ve found it easy to explain my novels. Each one was built around one or two central premises. The gang of thieves who want to rob an immortal emperor. A man cast down by a terrible, magical disease and forced to rebuild a society among those similarly afflicted. A boy who finds that librarians secretly rule the world.

Kings has stymied me each time I’ve tried to describe it. I often end up talking about its creation. (How I started work on it over fifteen years ago. How I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words worth of worldbuilding for it. How much the project has come to mean to me over the decades.) But such things describe the book but don’t actually tell you anything. And so this time, I’m going to try to talk about what The Way Of Kings is.

It’s a book about characters I love. I’ve begun to build a reputation as the “magic system” guy. The author who creates interesting types of magic for every book he writes. On one hand, this delights me, as I do put a lot of effort into the magic in my books. But a great book for me isn’t about a magic, it’s about the people that the magic affects.

The book started its life many years ago being about a young man who made a good decision. I wrote the entire book that way before realizing I’d done it wrong. So I started over from scratch and had him take the other fork, the more difficult fork. The fork that cast him into some of the worst imaginable circumstances, ground him against the stones of a world where there is no soil or sand on the ground.

My goal: to prove to myself, and to him, that the ‘good’ decision was not actually the best one. The Way Of Kings is his story, though he shares the space with several others. They’ll get their own books later in the series.

I want to tell you more, but I don’t have the space here. I want to talk about the art in the book (it’s ambitious, unlike anything I’ve seen tried in an epic fantasy novel before.) I want to talk about the scope of the series, the distinctive world which is so much larger and more real than anything I’ve worked on before. I want to explain the book.

But, for now, I think it’s best to just show you instead.


To keep up with all our Brandon Sanderson and The Stormlight Archive posts, see our Stormlight Archive Index page.

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Alice Arneson
1. Wetlandernw
I'm really looking forward to reading this. I love starting a series knowing that it's going to be a series, knowing that I can look forward to development in both world and characters. Just don't die before you finish it!!!! :)
Mychal Spencer
2. mychal26

A lot of people are looking forward to this series ... but how about showing a little tact?
3. Celtland
I cannot wait to read this first of many novels - especially after seeing what Patrick Rothfuss said about it. I have loved all of Mr. Sanderson's other books (I want to say "Brandon" because after reading so many posts, Tweets, etc. for so long, I feel as though I know him - but I don't, so Mr. Sanderson it is). Mistborn is among my all-time favorites. I expect this series will climb up there and reign with WoT and others. I usually pre-order through Amazon, but I'm going to the store the day of release to pick up The Way of Kings (as I have done with all of Mr. Sanderson's books!!).
a a-p
4. lostinshadow
OMG Wetlander bite your tounge! (though of course as a fellow WoT addict I get where the joke is coming from)

I too am looking forward to sinking my teeth into a nice long series, so thanks !

I can't find any of Mr. Sanderson's books here in Istanbul and for some reason customs eats my Amazon book orders but having come to know him through WoT fandom, I'm taking an extra suitcase next time I'm in the US or London so I can load up on all his books!
Valentin M
5. ValMar
Hands off Wetlander! ;-) From what I've observed she's too tactful and prudish to have meant the joke in bad taste (maybe too prudish ;-)).

Anyway, when is the book coming out?

Here, in London, until recently B Sanderson's books had disappeared from the shelves but now they are back. So, anyone coming from Istanbul should be alright...
6. unicornkill
Brandon, you've done it again! Looks to be a great world with interesting chars and the story really draws you in from the first page.
7. Freelancer
Thanks again, Brandon, for bringing yourself to us in a transparent manner from behind the scenes. This and Towers of Midnight are clearly the two most anticipated releases of the year from Tor.


FYI, Brandon himself has made the same jokes about his longterm plans for the Stormlight Archives, and the uncertainties of life. He's even said that if he pulled a Robert Jordan and passed away before the series was completed, he'd wish for Patrick Rothfuss to finish it for him.

That said, Wetlandernw's comment would not be taken badly by Brandon whatsoever, and I can assure you there are few if any who frequent this site with more taste or tact than she.


You absolutely won't be sorry. Get them all, even the Alcatraz books.
Tricia Irish
8. Tektonica
Oh squee! Can't wait to read the Chapters! Thank you Brandon Sanderson for letting us get a peak. I'm so looking forward to it.

I also love your insights into how you approach a book through the characters. (R. Fife's interview too.)

I'm a big Mistborn fan and I'm sure this one will be right up there with it....let the reading begin!
Steven Pattingale
9. Pattingale
Awesome! Love it, can't wait to get the book! :D
Heidi Byrd
10. sweetlilflower
Its just mean and cruel to release this little tidbit 2 MONTHS before the scheduled release date. You are too good of a writer to make us wait that long to read more! Shame on you :)
11. Andrew Cannon
I have to agree with sweetlilflower. Getting an intro like this, two months before I can get my hands on the book?

Bad form, Mr. Sanderson. Wonderful, exciting, taunting, tormenting, extravagantly delightful bad form.
Tina Pierce
12. scissorrunner
(Wetlandernw - I had the same thought!)

It WILL be hard to wait for it to be released, esp after the tidbits I've read & heard ('twas awesome to hear him read it himself!!), but waiting for "the next book" is fast becoming what I have to do. 2 months is a whole lot easier to wait than 4 years!!!
Nicholas Forrester
13. Roy007
Ah this was such a nice thing to wake up to on my Birthday yesterday! Thank you Brandon! Now to wait two and half months for chapter 4.
14. dcraven
I really cant wait to read this book. I have loved everything Sanderson has written so far.

I have one question. Celtland said "I cannot wait to read this first of many novels - especially after seeing what Patrick Rothfuss said about it."
Celtland, do you or anyone else know what exactly Rothfuss said about the book? Do you have a link to what he said by any chance? I would love to hear what he has to say. thanks
zack baba
15. brothertoner01
from what Brandon Sanderson said I believe this is a great novel.
Mychal Spencer
16. mychal26

Brandon posted this on his twitter (June 8th):

Pat Rothfuss has read The Way of Kings. Response: "Brandon Sanderson's books are so good that he's starting to piss me off."
Brandon Wood
17. brad21088
Sooooo excited. I just wish people would stop talking about it in reference to WoT ("it's the new WoT," "it'll fill the void WoT's ending will leave," etc). From the little bit of WoK that's been posted, this series will be absolutely nothing like the WoT series. It's going to be a Brandon Sanderson epic fantasy series. Compare it to an epic Mistborn, perhaps, but not the WoT. I'm only bothered by that because when I was first reading the sample chapters (after hearing WoK was the next WoT), it was a bit of a let down, at first. Then I stopped reading and thought, "OK, this is clearly not the WoT. At all. The two aren't even close. Just read the WoK for what it is," and then I could really get into it. It seems like it's going to be awesome. Of course, I'll wait til I read the whole thing before I pass judgment!
Alice Arneson
19. Wetlandernw
First, thanks to those who understood my comment @1 - which I'm quite confident includes Mr. Sanderson, since he's said much the same himself. That said, I intended no disrespect to anyone involved; for those who don't know me, I'm sorry if it offended you.

brad21088 @17 - No, it's clearly not WoT at all, it's a new thing all its own. For many of us, though, it's great to see a new fantasy series of this caliber starting up just as a fantasy series of similar caliber is being finished. For myself, the connection of Brandon Sanderson between the series gives me a certain confidence in WoK, that it will be well crafted and a great read. Speaking only for myself, I'm not sure if or when I'd have picked up Mr. Sanderson's books if not for his finishing the WoT; I've gotten pretty cynical about new writers in recent years. I need a pretty strong recommendation to get started on someone new, but I'm excited about this. The big similarities are the scope and quality, not the worlds themselves.
Peter Ahlstrom
21. PeterAhlstrom
Brandon posted about how this book is NOT the next Wheel of Time or Lord of the Rings or Dune over on his blog here:
22. hotmonkey
I READ 6 pages of the preview and had to stop .I can't read anymore until I have the book in my hand!! When I found out Brandon was taking over for Mr. Jordan i had to see what kind of writer he was so I got a copy of the first book in the mistborn trilogy, The final empire. It blew me away! I've read everything he's done since, and will continue to do so. You are a true master Mr. Sanderson, thanks for loving what you do :)
23. FlipFlopguy
Can't wait to read WoK! I've loved everything Brandon's written starting with Elantris. @wetlandernw I agree it's hard to trust any new authors. As a fellow fan of Brandons and Mr. Jordans works is there any similiar authors out there?
Alice Arneson
24. Wetlandernw
FlipFlopguy - In the fantasy genre, most of the stuff I like tends to be a bit older... I enjoy David Eddings Belgariad & Mallorean series; I would judge that he writes with slightly less attention to detail and interwoven plotlines, but equal facility with language and more light-hearted humor. I haven't read his other series, though I did start one and drifted off.

I liked Raymond Feist's Riftwar Saga; the Empire Trilogy slightly less; and what I've read of the Riftwar Legacy. I really didn't like the Serpentwar Saga, though. (YMMV) Since I didn't particularly like the direction he seemed to be taking in his writing, I haven't followed the rest. Also, I fear that, having written the major cycle that he started out to do, and with the follow-on series set in the same world, it's likely to be mostly the same story with different names. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but... oh well. From what I've read, I'd judge his world-building to be less complex than either Jordan or Sanderson; he does a fair amount of interwoven plots, but less compellingly, IMO. My very favorite thing about Feist is that not too long after finishing the series, he was approached about a computer game set in his world. He actually wrote a complete story for it (fleshed out later in the book Krondor: the Betrayal), and it was a great game. The graphics and combat would look clunky now, but for the time it was pretty fair and having a real story and intelligent quests was great fun. It was along the lines of the Kings Quest games, but vastly better-done.

Other authors: Terry Pratchett, Anne McCaffrey, Douglas Adams. I'm sure there are more I should name, but can't off the top of my head. Also, I just recently read some sample pages of Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen, and it looks to be worth reading.

Having said all that, my criteria for a good book are (in no particular order):

-craftsmanship of language
-storytelling that draws me in
-interesting plot
-characters I can care about
-content that doesn't feel like voyeurism or porn

I don't mind having battle scenes, or knowing that characters have a wonderful sex life, but I prefer to have the intimate details (of both) left to the imagination. I find it much more effective and less distracting that way, since the details are very rarely relevant to either plot or character development.

That's my angle on it. Hope that helps.
Wayne Wilson
25. stylusmobilus

Yeah, squee all right. The last year or so has been a feast of fantasy, and it's just getting better, and thanks in no small way to BS, Team Jordan and Tor.
26. styxrox69
HAHAHA You guys crack me up! I love to encounter fans of authors, and Brandon certainly has more than a few. Yes, please do not die Brandon, until the Boss upstairs calls you. We miss Robt Jordan fiercely, and you should have a warm fuzzy feeling that you are already cared about so much by your fans. Cannot wait to get the book (books!), waiting for payday! ;) God bless you
28. Stormblessed
I read this book in two days and while Brandon's plan is to write a book a year, I will be impatiently waiting for the next one.

After reading these books Dune, The Wheel of Time, The Sword of Truth, Armor, Dragonmage of Mystara, Hidden City (the Tamuli),The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, andThe Dragons of Pern I can honestly say that I have read about some great characters. Kaladin, Jasnah, Shallan, and Dalinar are right up there with the Characters from the books above and I will be adding this series to my collection.
29. diaknia
Fellow Jordan/Sanderson fan here. Read the entire Mistborn trilogy straight through. What a read. Just got finished with Towers of Midnight too.

As far as other authors to recommend.... I'm both a sci-fi and fantasy nut. Terry Brooks Shannara trilogies were pretty good I felt. Also David Weber, while primarily one of the kings of Modern Sci-fi, also had an awesome fantasy trilogy: Oath of Swords, War God's Own, Wind Rider's Oath. His books have a bit of a military flair, but are usually really good reads.

If you like Sci-fi as well, The Honor Harrington series is one of my all-time favorites.
30. katrinazen
I LOVED WoK! I literally closed the book and said, "okay, where's the next one?" Keep up the good work Brandon! In terms of other authors, no one has mentioned Guy Gavriel Kay. Haven't been wild about his recent stuff, but The Finnovar Tapestry, Tigana, Song for Arabonne are absolutely phenomenal! If nothing else, everyone should read the Finnovar Tapestry. Epic fantasy on the highest level.
31. bandpapa
"And so, does the destination matter? Or is it the path we take? I declare that no accomplishment has substance nearly as great as the road used to achieve it. We are not creatures of destinations. It is the journey that shapes us. Our callused feet, our backs strong from carrying the weight of our travels, our eyes open with the fresh delight of experiences lived."

This quotation made by Dalinar himself quoting to Sadeas from the Way of Kings (page 818) touched me so much, as I am travelling far from home at the moment trying to find answers to questions just forming whilst on my journey. The Way of Kings seems to be so close to the comprehension of virtues and doing the "right thing" as I myself have considered the way people nowadays should act in a more and more overcrowded and reckless world. With Sanderson so clearly dealing with this topic, I felt unexpectedly assured in my decison of doing the right thing (in business and everyday life). Someone has to start at last. Thank you for this most touching story and the effort put into the philosophy of its spine.
Michael Maxwell
32. pike747
I am part way through the book and it is impressive. The look the art are really different and good. TOR has great trust in you, your vision and I am sure your work ethic to go to the extra expense to publish such a beautiful work. It is like Dune in the sense of being groundbreaking but not like the Dune story. It grows on me more and more. It is not much like WOT at all. A lot of work ahead for this diligent young writer.
33. Striax
I am truely amazed by this book. I had read the WoT before this and all of your other books before I read this one and i think it is the best book I have read. I know you are currently working on other books, but please write the next book!! I have reread the book many times and I think you are a great writer.
34. Saetana
Got The Way of Kings part 1 and 2 (paperback, it might come in one book in hardcover) for Christmas and have almost finished part one. I did enjoy the Mistborn trilogy but I wouldn't buy it, I took a chance on this new series (I usually borrow from the library first and then buy if I think I will read the books more than twice) and am glad I did as I'm really enjoying it. I actually hate reading brand new series because I hate having to wait at least a year (for the quick writers, 3 or 4 for some) for the next instalment, I have got around this by having multiple series in my collection so there is usually a new novel out most months of the year.

I didn't find Mistborn as reader-friendly as Way of Kings (or maybe I've been reading Steven Erikson for so long that I've got used to complicated series), wonder if this is going to be a trilogy or an epic on the lines of WoT or Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen? Hopefully the latter as I love a really long series, especially once I own all the books and can read the whole story from beginning to end any time I like.

Anyway, time to get back and finish Part 1, with the final instalment of WoT to look forward to later this year and the final book in Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles on the horizon as well, this should be a good year for fantasy readers ;o)
Alice Arneson
35. Wetlandernw
Saetana @34 - if you check back and see this... The Stormlight Archive is intended to be 10 books. Second book is expect out in 2013. Mr. Sanderson puts out at least one new book a year, it seems. 2010 saw both The Way of Kings and Towers of Midnight; 2011 was Alloy of Law; 2012 will give us A Memory of Light. After that, he plans to do a couple more Stormlight Archive books, and I can't remember the list after that. I do remember that he plans to intersperse the SA books with a few more "Wax and Wayne" books (Alloy of Law is the first; they're set in the Mistborn world but about 300 years later), and he plans two more trilogies set in the Mistborn world, separated by several centuries each. No fear: there are LOTS more Sanderson books coming, and you won't likely have to wait more than a year for a new one. When he needs a break from writing one book/series, he relaxes by writing a different one. :)
36. journey b4 destination
i have just finished the book and all i can say is that its amazing!!! the plot the characters just everything about it is awsome. Having said that i truly cant wait for the next one to come out.

also@wetlandernw and others if ur still looking for other authors and or books to read then i would reccomend Stephen R. Lawheads Pendragon cycle. i think there are 5 books in the series and they r really good.

anyway the way of kings is probably the best book ive ever read and im really excited for the next book.^_^
37. Saetana
@Wetlandernw - thanks for that and its good to know Sanderson is a prolific writer, much as I like George R R Martin and Janny Wurts they both can take several years sometimes to write a book and it gets frustrating. I won't be bothering with Alloy of Law as the Mistborn trilogy was a departure for me from the kind of fantasy I normally like and it was purely because of the main characters that I did like it, I was less keen on the world itself. So, roll on the next instalment of the Stormlight Archive, shame we are having to wait until next year for MoL as well but it will be good to finally get the series finished ;o)
38. BitterZen
This series is by far the best or Brandon Sanderson's works. His work with WoT lacks a certain's just not his story...and while I liked the Mistborn series, it just wasn't quite on par with some of the upper echelon of epic fantasy. However, if the rest of Stormlight Archives is anything like the Way of will undoubtedly be up there with WoT, with Ice and Fire, and with Malazan Book of the Fallen....imho.....
39. yasiru89
I've seldom read a more smoothly introduced series, so I wonder about the necessity of one outside the books, but The Way of Kings deserves the marketing.

Smooth is the operative word to describe it I think. I've always been a fan of Mr Sanderson's, should I say 'devourable', books. This perfects the narrative method, simple but effective in the mileage that's got. Next there's scope to the series this is an entry of. Huge, epic scale that I've always enjoyed since reading Asimov's Foundation. True to form, the characters become very familiar very early. I'm not sure if the mystery will last for a large series, but there seems a sizeable cast and the pacing is well done. Finally, the art works spectacularly well in this case.

One thing I wasn't keen on was the attempt at WoT-esque 'cursing' (not for the attempt but for it not sounding as natural), but I suppose that can be gotten used to.

I enjoyed this first entry immensely and hope Mr Sanderson is able to continue the rate of output he's now famous for.
41. Audiorago
I just started reading this great book - but I too share Wetlander's concerns. More importantly, I believe a great story has an ending. When Robert Jordan continued to write his endless story, I gave up on it around book 11. I will do the same for Brandon's series if it goes past 5 books at most. It sucks to do it - but I am not buying an endless story. A writer isn't a GREAT writer unless there is an ending. Robert Jordan was NOT a great writer. Each book was more of the same: more and more characters, more complexity and no end and then he kicks the bucket and Brandon has to finish it. This is a rip off for sure. I hope this one isn't more of the same. So far, I love the characters and plotline. It is a great beginning.
42. audiorago
If you really want to read a great story in the fantasy genre then read Scott Lynch's "Lies of Locke Lamora" and "Red Seas Under Red Skies" as they are each a finished product yet one leads to the other and there IS an ending. Brilliantly written. This is one that one would love to see continue but not more than one or at most two books.
43. audiorago
Oh forget that! LOL! Even he is planning an epoch. Sheesh! Doesn't anyone ever finish anymore? At least so far, each book has stood on its' own. If it continues this way, I can live with 7 books as it seems it is planning on being. I can stay that long but no longer.
Alice Arneson
44. Wetlandernw
Audiorago @41 - Just in case you check back here... I'm not entirely sure which post of mine you're referencing, but I want to clarify. I have no real concerns about the completion of this series, nor do I worry that Brandon will pad it out to make it last longer, as some have accused Robert Jordan of doing with the Wheel of Time. I have several reasons for this.

One, Brandon already has the series mostly laid out, and he believes it will take ten books to tell it. He has been known to say that if it condenses in the telling, that's fine, and he'll do it in fewer books, but it won't take more than the planned ten.

Two, he's not a "one-trick pony" in any sense. He has books in his head for half a dozen (or more) worlds and magic systems; he has no need to drag this one out to make money off it.

Three, the fact that he's writing other things in the meantime is simply the way he works. Sometimes he needs a break to clear his head before continuing with a project or series; this is not uncommon to authors - or any other human. The difference is that when Brandon needs a break, he doesn't take two weeks in Tahiti - he writes something else. The Alcatraz books are a good example of this, and I believe "Alloy of Law" was too.

No, I have no real fear of the series being left uncompleted, other than the general uncertainties of life. It will probably take fifteen years or so, but that's okay. I can live with it.
45. aljam
when is the second book being released. i bought the book that said part two but it was book one

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