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.
The Way of Kings (978-0-7653-2808-3) by Brandon Sanderson was released August 31 from Tor.
This post originally appeared on Tor.com and was featured in the Tor/Forge September newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.
More from our September newsletter:
- Life as Luc Sees It: Writing from the Perspective of a Demon by Lisa Desrochers
- Translating the Vampire: Six Questions for Russian author Lena Meydan
- What Is An Editor, Anyway? by Christopher Conlon
- Everyday Magic: Lady Lazarus and the Book of Raziel by Michele Lang
- Brandon on Twitter and Facebook
- The Stormlight Archive on Facebook
- The Way of Kings tour schedule
- Brandon explains The Way of Kings’ humble beginnings & shares some early pages from years ago
- In a Kingly Way: Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings
- Listen to an excerpt from The Way of Kings audiobook