The Way of Kings: Not Just a Fantasy Novel

It seems like a theme has developed on this blog over the last week revolving around my completion of Book One in the Stormlight Archive series. My intrigue for Brandon Sanderson’s work has blossomed into a full blown obsession and I simply must talk about it. As I’m well into Book Two, Words of Radiance, it felt like a good time to share some of my favorite bits from The Way of Kings, real life inspiration from fantasy people. 

“You can’t go someplace a second time until you been there a first time, I reckon. Everyone has to stand out sometime…”  – Yalb to Shallan on the docks at Kharbranth

It’s so easy to get ahead of ourselves. Too often I catch myself dwelling in the useless realm of someday, dreaming up perfect conversations with perfect people who I still have yet to meet. Life just doesn’t play out that way. Things never go the way you expect them to but that’s what makes it interesting. We like to pretend that we know where we’re going when in reality, we’re all just wandering through life waiting for the day that our prayers are answered and we bump into the right people. 

“A blank page was nothing but potential, pointless until it was used.” – Shallan thinking on drawing and art. 

Whether you’re a painter, writer, composer or musician, I think every artist on the planet can identify with this. That blank page is always there, begging to be filled even if only with the seemingly infinite mental clutter which obscures the true artistic gems of your consciousness.

“The hallmark of insecurity is bravado.” – Dalinar Kholin to his son, Adolin at the Shattered Plains

Have you ever noticed how the most uptight people are the only ones going out of their way to show the world how incredibly easy going they can be? This goes for all sorts of things. In my experience if you strut around like you’ve got something to prove, chances are, you do. No one is perfect. We’re all only human after all. How much simpler life would be if we all stopped trying to appear as we think we ought to and instead embraced the fabulous, singular individuals that we already are.  


For Goodness’ Sake (The Way of Kings)

Once again, the hours have ticked by while I wasn’t looking and now the darkness outside my windows is complete with a huge partial moon hanging high in the sky and the clock preparing to announce the new day. I have completely and utterly failed to stick to my desired bedtime but at the moment, I can’t bring myself care. 

My evening was hijacked by an epic tale of radiant knights who wield fantastical blades and armor as they charge into battle. Their glorious deeds are chronicled in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series. I have fewer than 50 pages left to read of Book 1, The Way of Kings, which is considerably less than the 250 remaining pages that I started with when I sat down to read after a short afternoon jog through the neighborhood. 

The book, a brand new copy before this read, has been well loved. The spine is cracked in several places, the glossy cover creased and scratched, the corners of its crinkling pages just starting to turn up from use. Digging my nose out of it long enough to serve up dinner was extremely difficult. My food almost went cold as I ate with a fork in my right hand and the heavy novel held open in my left.  

I’m sure I’ll be writing about this book again but amid the most recent excitement, one phrase stuck out to me. 

“Somebody has to step forward and do what is right, because it is right.” 

How many times have you caught yourself granting a favor in the hope of reciprocation at a later date? Or maybe you find yourself lending a hand because it’s the polite thing to do. It’s what you’re supposed to do. I know I’m guilty of it. 

When was the last time you did something good for no other reward than the smile that it brought someone’s face? That is the kind of person I want to be.

Do You Believe?

This weekend I spent the majority of my Saturday eating up the last 100 pages of the third book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy, The Hero of Ages. The previous book concluded amid the messy aftermath of the final showdown between several warring kingdoms and left the reader with a hopeful but dark sense of foreboding for a far greater threat still to come.

In the last stage of the journey, this superior menace finally reveals itself and is every bit the challenge that we all feared. Throughout the story many beloved characters are led to question their ideals, their abilities and even their own memories in an epic struggle against a deific foe. Although this is a fantasy novel written primarily to entertain, the thoughts and doings of one character caught my attention and made me ponder some big questions of my own. 

Sazed, a kindly scholar and purveyor of the lost religions of the Final Empire eventually finds himself in a crisis of faith and on a quest for universal Truth. Along the way, he asks questions that I’ve come across in my life and reached similar conclusions. 

“It wasn’t the grand doctrines or the sweeping ideals that seemed to make believers out of people. It was the simple magic in the world around them.”

I strive everyday to embrace the small magic of life, although some days, this is more challenging than others. In my experience, people who are not ready to find faith tend to demand extreme and undeniable shows of divinity as proof but, as one character pointed out to Sazed, to seek a religion that requires no faith of its believers is to search for something that cannot be found. A lot of people spend their lives begging for godly signs to put them on the right path and miss all those little, seemingly insignificant moments when the world did exactly that. It is these moments that make believers as Sazed discovered even as the world was crashing down around him. 

“He would believe. Not because something had been proven to him beyond his ability to deny. But because he chose to.”

You have to choose to believe. As humans we are by our very nature unable to comprehend and understand the fullness of God. Yet, people believe anyway. They know there will always be questions and that many of us are ill equipped to answer them. But it’s strange how, even at the world’s ending, those who choose to believe can still find proof of faith.   

POTD: A Book Ate My Weekend

To any fantasy book lovers out there, if you haven’t found Brandon Sanderson, you need to. The Mistborn Trilogy wasn’t my first taste of Sanderson’s world building but it was the most recent one, in addition to being the reason that I got almost nothing done this weekend. What can I say? The book made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. 

I settled in for a couple chapters on Saturday morning while sipping a coffee and the next thing I knew, it was 10pm on Sunday night and I was straining not to hurl The Well of Ascension across the room because there just weren’t enough pages left to tie up all the loose ends. Happily, the story continues in The Hero of Ages. There’s a chance that the phrase “page turner” was a prophetic term created specifically for tales of the Final Empire and the strange and mystical creatures that live there. While Sanderson’s work is far from a relaxing read, it is bound to keep you on your toes as well as awaken dreams of becoming an allomantic metallurgist. 

What’s on your reading list?