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Brandon Sanderson's "The Stormlight Archive"

Noah Stepanov

Posted on January 3, 2021 04:52

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A recommendation for all fans of the fantasy genre.

Fantasy is without a doubt my favorite genre across most mediums, but especially when it comes to books. Thankfully when it comes to great authors within the genre, these days I’m spoiled for choice; from modern classics by seasoned writers, like Martin, to upcoming talents like Tamsyn Muir, whose Ninth House series I’ve already gushed about, there’s never been a better time to want to read about a little magic and adventure.

This week I’m focusing on a titan of contemporary fantasy, Brandon Sanderson. Some might know him for his work finishing Robert Jordan’s series, “The Wheel of Time,” while others might have been introduced through his “Mistborn” series, or even his debut novel, “Elantris.” While I’m from the former group, I’m also one of the many, many people who’ve taken a shine to his newest ongoing series, “The Stormlight Archive,” which is, hands down, Sanderson’s most ambitious project to date.

The first book, “The Way of Kings” is, I think, one of the best starts to a fantasy epic I’ve ever read. Sanderson is renowned for his worldbuilding and, especially, the depth of his magic-systems. Fans of harder-magic will adore WoK’s system of binding, and soul casting, and how integral magical elements like stormlight are to society. But the most important part is that all of this is given to the reader piecemeal, so even at the end of the first book, not everything is understood, but the things that don’t yet make sense are set up as “mysteries” rather than feeling like inconsistencies.

We also get fantastic introductions to the core cast, which is understandably large for a series this big. The reader gets to see almost every aspect of society (multiple societies, in fact) from the lowest dredges, to scholarship and even royalty. The characters are varied and unique, and each have their own well-defined and elaborate struggles.

When dealing with a long series, it may be easy to assume that the characters won’t undergo much change all at once, particularly at the beginning, but this isn’t the case here. Sanderson sets up every character with a personal problem that they must confront in some way through the events of WoK, and while the growth is exciting to see, you also get the sense that there’s still more to come. The characters change, but that change isn’t presented as “the end,” and I wound up itching to see how they would continue to evolve in the books that followed.

There are currently four books to the Stormlight Archive, with the most recent coming out just this past November. Despite the wait ahead, I’d still recommend anyone with an interest in fantasy to give this series a shot and then suffering patiently with the rest of us.

Noah Stepanov

Posted on January 3, 2021 04:52

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