I can still remember the day I first landed my hands on a Magnum opus called the Stormlight Archive. It was the 25th of June when I got the delivery of the Way of Kings. Why do I remember the date? Cuz I messed up pretty bad back then. Side-track aside, I started reading that 1000 page long monstrosity the same night, and within the next four days, I was done.
And so, the journey inside this grandiose world that Brandon Sanderson had created – which was already a part of an even more grandiose Cosmere (We’ll talk about it, soon) – began.
It is undeniable that the scope of this tale is overarching anything on the market right now, and barely anything can challenge it. This series is bound to go in the annals of human history soon enough. And when that day comes, I want us all to be there. And this article is merely a way for me to recruit even more readers to this wonderful world.
Know that, though I recommend this series to anyone with even the slightest interest in reading, it requires a fuck-load of attention and memory and might take a toll on you.
Now, to the reasons ahead-:
1) AN ENORMOUS, STRANGE WORLD TO EXPLORE
Look, I’m not going to lie about this. If you peeps love the expanse Game of Thrones has provided you, this series will basically blow your mind. Unlike Game of Thrones, or the Granddaddy Tolkien Legendarium, whose worlds are not very different than our own in terms of the geography, or flora and fauna for that matter, this world is completely alien to what we’re used to. No flora of the kind we know exists anywhere on Roshar, anywhere except a secretive state called Shinovar.
Every single animal, plant, every rock is forged through its weather phenomenon called Highstorm, which is exactly how it sounds like. An enormous Storm that sweeps across the lands every few days, forcing all living beings to find a place to be safe from it. Animals have a heavy chitinous shelling and humans have grown an epicanthic fold upon their eyes to protect themselves from the storm.
Seriously, there is barely anything you could read and say, ‘Huh! That sounds normal.’ Cuz no, there’s nothing normal with the functioning of this weird world, and it is just fantastic.
2) HISTORY OF THE KIND YOU’VE NEVER SEEN
Now, I won’t go too deep into spoiler territory and neither will I elaborate on this. But the history of this world is not really that complex like ASOIAF or Silmarillion. However, it is vast as hell. And the consequences of those actions that took place thousands of years ago, resonate to this day, and in a much more clear manner than that of the other high Fantasy novels.
The world itself is said to have a major influence on the shaping of the entire Cosmere (soon, stick with me) and little is known of the true origins of what actually formed it, but fear not. Since this is Brandon Sanderson we’re talking about, we’ll get definitive answers as we move forth in the series.
It was forged through innumerable Desolations – basically an outright reboot to the entire human race through terrifying wars, leading up to the final Desolation that came over four Millennia ago. After that, there were two cultural disasters called Recreance, and Hierocracy, both of which are responsible for the political and social structures of the society of the present times. Now, if you intend to ask what they were, that’s a big RAFO, something you’ll get a whole lot of if you keep asking the questions that you’re not supposed to. *An evil laughter ensues*
Seriously, there are several intriguing mysteries in this world, all of them hidden in plain sight for you to decode or wait for a clear revelation. Be warned though, even for the relatively tiny info dump I’m giving you here, the true Cosmerians might put a bounty on my head. So just…RAFO for anything that is not mentioned here.
3) CHARACTERS YOU’LL BE IN LOVE WITH FOR A LOOOONG TIME
There are three main POV characters to follow upon in the first book. Except for the Prologue, which is from another character’s POV. So, the three lead characters for the first one are Kaladin, Dalinar, and Shallan.
However, the first book concentrates more upon the Kaladin’s tale. That’s how it is. The second one is all about Shallan, and third all about Dalinar and so on and so forth.
Anyhoo, I won’t speak too much about their actual arc, except for the lead stuff, which you can find on the back page of the actual book as well.
Kaladin is a man from a little town on the outskirts of Alethkar. A surgeon, who, as the fate puts it, was forced to become a Soldier. And shit just gets worse for him as the time passes. You’ll love him though, he’s sweet and sad and everything we peeps are drool-y about.
Then there is Shallan. Though I LOVE her in the first book, people prefer her arc in the second one, which is, as I have mentioned, Shallan-centric book. It’s mostly a matter of choice though, so take it with a grain of salt. So, this kiddo has come to a city called Kharbranth to learn history and stuff with some seriously over-ulterior motives. She takes much more of a front stage in the second and the third book, but her arc is a bit jollier compared to the other two.
The third lead POV as of now is Dalinar Kholin, the modafoka Blackthorn man. He’s a badass General of the Alethi army, one with a strength and tactics unmatched on the entire Roshar. However, he is having his own reflection over morality and theologies of this time period after reading a book called ‘The Way of Kings’. Oh yes, all the novels in the Stormlight Archive are named after actual in-world books with different substance. So, trivia aside, he doesn’t take that much of a front seat till the third book. Granted, all his POVs have their high points, and both the big battles of the first two novels are from his POV, they aren’t even a match to the shit that goes down in the latest one, ‘Oathbringer’. He’s the unmatched star of the series, the hero we all need but don’t deserve.
These three big leads put aside, there are recurring characters through the interludes, bonus chapters for the worldbuilding to root for. Most famous of all is Szeth AKA Szeth Son-Son Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar. Don’t even ask me why. This guy is as weird as these novels get, and to challenge him, is a character named Lift. Now we’ll speak of her soon enough.
The side characters are also some of the best ones you’re going to come across in any novels. We have a heretic Jasnah Kholin, an autistic sweet kid Renarin, hot guy Adolin, weird old guy Taravangian, quirk squad Bridge Four, scary asshole Sadeas, complicated asshole Amaram and so many more. Heck, I haven’t even touched upon the subject of Spren yet!
The best thing about these all characters is that throughout these novels, none of them stays stagnant, always changing, always developing, and becoming someone else. Each one of them are distinct regarding their personality, you simply can’t forget them. You just…can’t.
That being said, another important note, keep an eye out for Wit. He’s weird.
4) THE SPREN
So these bunch are strange spirit-like creatures from another plane of reality, called Shadesmar. Each spren represents a unique emotion or a unique action. They can be seen everywhere. You’re hungry? You’ll find hungerspren around you. Hurt? You’ll find Painspren around you. There are so many of them that even the in-world characters have been unable to catalogue all of them.
However, their significance does not end there. Sometimes, they tend to bond with Humans and gain a conscience of a different kind. They learn they evolve and boy oh boy do they provide a comic relief throughout the tale?
Even with all of this, there is a whole lot of mystery surrounding these creatures. So be vigilant whenever they’re on screen.
What can I say? She’s friggin awesome. She has an entire novella dedicated to her that bridges the gap between the second and the third instalment. Don’t get intimidated by this, it’s light and funny as fuck.
6) MEMEWORTHY MATERIAL ALL IN ALL
Again, I can’t comment too much on this either, except that it is so full of comic exchanges, weird character facades, and a ton of hidden sex jokes. Trust me, once you get on with it, you’ll find a whole lot of stuff to have a good laugh upon.
Okay, this one is a bit more complicated. But I’ll do my best to tell you as much as you need to know.
First of all, there are shardblades, weapons of destruction that are light as a feather and can cut through literally anything with no effort whatsoever. To make it even more interesting, these weapons are so rare that each blade can be worth an entire Kingdom at times. It is usually accompanied by a Shardplate, the only material capable of standing against a blade.
There are three magic systems, namely Surgebinding, Voidbinding and an Old magic.
The Surgebinding is based on something called Stormlight. A wispy substance that works as a light instead of fire and each highstorm infuses it in the gem spheres: the currency of Roshar. Once the Surgebinders have taken correct Oaths, breathing it gives you a vast variety of Powers.
Then there’s the Old Magic. It is – in a nutshell – a deal with the devil, though not so literally. You go and ask for a blessing – a boon to one who performs it and you’ll get it. And in exchange, you’ll be cursed, and that curse can be literally anything.
Voidbinding, on the other hand, is a huge mystery as of now. Not even the greatest of our kind know of this. After all, it is of the bad guys, and they aren’t coming back anytime soon, are they?
8) REALLY GREAT VILLAINS
The big bad of this series may be seriously terrifying and borderline all-powerful, and hence, kind of clichéd on the first sight, but you’ll be surprised by what he represents and the secrets that surround him.
The big bad put aside, the series is full of complex and intriguing villains, with nothing more than humane motives and ideas that they stand for. They’re written so well that most of their actions make us question as to how evil was that really?
However, these villains succeed in providing this series with some of the darkest and some of the most Thrill-raising moments.
9) LET’S MAKE A FILM FRANCHISE OUT OF THIS
Okay, so this opinion might not bode well with many peeps, considering so many dear novels have been annihilated by the money baggers out there by creating shitty films out of them. But this one…well, this one is seriously un-filmable as a movie. There is a ton of material that would be needed to be cut and it’s not going to be good for the enormous interconnected material of this series.
So here’s a better idea, make an anime out of this. Seriously, there are scenes upon scenes in this series that are literally tailor-made for anime and considering how long they can go on, it will only be for the benefit of the series to do it.
Though note that this is merely my opinion, and DMG Entertainment is already on to preparing a script for the first movie. What the fans hope for might never come to fruition, but it still holds promise. Maybe if this article doesn’t pique your interest, that movie will. Who knows?
10) IT’S ALL CONNECTED
This is indeed a part of something so much bigger than you know. All of these books will be riddled with epigraphs and characters that give an out-of-place, almost alien feel. They probably won’t even make much sense, since they’re speaking of incidences and tales that reach far beyond the already epic scope of this series.
So, to put that in perspective, this series is set in a much bigger universe called Cosmere, a world where some of the bestselling novels like Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker and Elantris are set in. Yes, this is basically the MCU of the novels but so much better.
However, you must know that you are not supposed to look out for these secrets while reading this book, not unless you’ve already read the other ones. Because as per our dear old BranSan, and even by the word of all the Cosmerians like me, these novels are to be enjoyed unto themselves. They are telling a single tale at once. Granted, it will add up to something so much greater but that does not mean you would sacrifice the true experience of this tale for the sake of it.