The Way of Kings: Part One (The Stormlight Archives) by Brandon Sanderson – Book Review.

Title: The Way of Kings: Part One (The Stormlight Archives)

Author: Brendon Sanderson

Rating: 4.5/5

Genre: High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, World-Building, Action, Adventure, Mythical, Alternate World


 

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”

In recent years, the genres of High and Epic Fantasy has gone through a resurgence in popularity and interest, and attracted more of a public and mainstream status and audience. Through film sagas like The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, and into television shows such as Game of Thrones, Beowulf and even the children’s favourite, Merlin, the sub-genre of High Fantasy has moved into public consciousness and shown off its talents of world-building, alternative realities, epic battles and mythical creatures.

I’ve always been a fan of fantasy novels, but apart from reading 513o1fxkp8l-_sx324_bo1204203200_the obvious Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire series, I’ve never actually ventured into reading really high fantasy. But when I was sent Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance books (the third and the fourth books in The Stormlight Archives), and was intrigued by the back covers, I knew I had a new winter read on my hand. So I bought the first volume, The Way of Kings, and when I got this tome of a book of nearly 1,000 pages, I knew I was in for some serious world-building and character exploring.

(Quick sidenote: In the UK, The Way of Kings has been split into two halves, due to the absolutely massive size of the book. But without realizing it, I bought it in one complete volume of over 1,000 pages. This review will be on The Way of Kings in its entirety, rather than limiting it to having two reviews for both halves).

Roshar is a land of harsh climates, fierce battles and raging conflicts. The country is frequently decimated by fierce tempests, which have not only shaped the geography of the land, but also its people, and there are wars fought and won over the capture of territories, spoils, and pieces of weaponry known as Shardblades and Shardplates – which make the wearer near-invincible and impossibly strong. The narrative primarily follows three plotlines – Kaladin (the ex-soldier turned slave), Brightlord Dalinar (ex-war hero who is feared to be going insane) and Shallan (ex-noblelady who turns to crime and nefarious deeds to get her family back to a higher rank), and how they all navigate Roshar’s tempestuous landscape, torn warzones,  fragmented cultures and spiritual beliefs. The novel also deals with the typical high-fantasy tropes of drawn-out battles with swords and weapons, mythical beasts, battles between good and evil and quests of high significance.

Now, like I’ve said before, the only high fantasy novels I’ve read have been Tolkien and George R.R Martin’s creations, so I really didn’t know how I was going to get on with these extreme levels of fantasy. But I was pleasantly surprised over how readable and enjoyable I found this book. Yes, it is very high fantasy, and at some points it can be fairly muddled and confusing – personally, I found the descriptions of the religious beliefs to be somewhat convoluted and appear to be too thought out and confusing – but for the majority of the time, I adored the world-building and the attention Sanderson put into his characters, and bringing the world to life.

The characters were readable and enjoyable, and I found as we moved through the pages, their backstories were unraveled slowly, so we could fully appreciate and see how they react to events and circumstances. I particularly liked Brightlord Dalinar, whose apparent insanity is an interesting read, as we see it from Dalinar himself, but also his comrades and family members. Shallan was also very interesting, as she had a lot of choices between good and evil to deal with, and her relationship with her tutor, the King’s heretic sister, Jasnah was one of intrigue and tension. The characters are also never put forward as being perfect, but flawed and entirely human in that respect. What I did find interesting was how social hierarchies were dictated by the colour of a persons eyes, and how ‘light-eyes’ were always higher up, no matter how good or bad this person was. I’m really looking forward to seeing how that particular story arc progresses during the rest of the books.

the_way_of_kings___cover_by_michael_whelan_by_arcanghell-d4ky8hlAs in most fantasy series, there are a great deal of warzones and fight scenes. And Sanderson doesn’t disappoint with his descriptions of the battles. Yes, they are bloody, but not explicit. And with the addition of the Shardplates and Blades, the battles reach new heights of intensity and skill. Sanderson has also included layers of technology, magic, science and Other-ness throughout the story, so there isn’t really any point when anything seems too out there or farfetched.

So, did I enjoy this book? The answer is a definite yes. I have read another story by Sanderson called Steelheard, which I did find good, but I found this book to really surpass that. This has been an excellent attempt at high-fantasy, as he not only excels at world-building, but also at just giving characters a voice and storytelling. At some points it is a bit confusing, and the first third of the book isn’t the fastest moving, or most dynamic part, but all in all, I did enjoy it. Fans of Tolkien and George R.R. Martin should definitely read this. At the moment, I am reading the second book in The Stormlight Archives, and I’ve heard that this is going to be a ten-book series. And truthfully, I cannot wait.

But, let me know what you think! I’d love to hear feedback.

Links:

To buy Part 1 of The Way of Kings: Click Here (Waterstones/Amazon)

To buy Part 2: (Waterstones/Amazon)

Sanderson’s website – Click Here.

 

 

 

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Deadpool (2016) – Film Review

Title: Deadpool

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand, Leslie Uggams

Director: Tim Miller

Genre: Superhero, Action, Marvel Film, Comic Book Adaptation

Rating: 4.5/5


 

When it comes to the release of a new Marvel film, there are always going to huge levels of anticipation, paired with tons of excitement, which turns into queues of fans waiting eadeadpool-poster-dec1stgerly at the doors of the cinema to get their fix of the newest installment. And when test footage was leaked online in July 2014 of hearthrob Ryan Reynolds playing the fan-favourite antihero Deadpool, the wait for the release of this origin movie was almost painful. But, as of February 12th 2016, this wait was over. But was it worth it? The answer is, of course.

In this film, Ryan Reynolds plays the smart-mouthed, quip-a-plenty and slightly insane antihero who, as shown through the origin side, is on a mission of revenge after a last-minute cancer cure leaves him with not only mutant abilities, but a horrible disfiguration. Now, before becoming Deadpool, the audience meets Wade Wilson, a handsome, hilarious mercenary who not only has the face of a god, but the girl of his dreams, Vanessa. But, like all fairytales (and theirs is certainly one of love mixed with depravity), something has to break it apart. Wilson is diagnosed with late-stage cancer of his liver, brain, prostate and and lungs, and the question is tossed up of his survival. But then Wade gets offered a get-out-of-jail-free card. Initially called a government-funded workshop, he is promised that this experiment would not only cure his cancer, but give him abilities that would surpass a normal human being, and make him into a version of a ‘superhero’. However, Wade is tricked by the conniving ‘doctor’, a figure of power called Ajax, and subjected to hideous torture and excruciating pain, which results in horrific scarring and a deep-seated desire for revenge.

So what makes Deadpool such a good movie? Well, there hasn’t really been a Marvel film that properly disappoints fans yet, as they all feature their favourite comic heroes, massive budgets and excellent cameos from Stan Lee. And Deadpool does follow that tradition. But unlike other Marvel films, this is a lot darker, bloodier, sexier and adult than what people usually associate with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It focuses on a crazy character, who actively rebels against the X-Men and deadpoolthe idea of a ‘hero’, and just wants to make this right with his girl and his life. Despite being called an extension of the X-Men films, there are so many jokes at their expense, and at the whole superhero genre that it makes it feel completely different and unique. Deadpool waltzs into fights without any concern, (knowing full well he will always heal) and always has the perfect one-liner for any situation. He is psychotic, babbling, hilarious, depraved and just plain vicious when it comes to the fight scenes, and Reynolds really comes into his own whilst playing him. This is Reynolds third attempt at a superhero movie (previously playing The Green Lantern in the heavily-panned film, and a ridiculous version of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine) but this really is three-times the charm as his timing, charisma and chemistry with the rest of the cast really makes up for his past failings.

As shown in other Marvel films (Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man) humour really does account for a lot in superhero films, as it breaks through all fighting and the special effects and other-worldness of heroes and makes them a bit more human-like. And Deadpool is laugh-a-minute. Despite Deadpool having a constantly running commentary, none of his jokes falls flat, and each character does have their own comedy sketch to shine in. The scenes of torture that are shown are also kept a lot lighter than they could be, with Reynolds delivering excellent gallows-humour to keep spirits up. There are also a lot of visual gags and even dick jokes that still add to the overall madness of the film.deadpool1-gallery-image

The film also never slows down the pace, and constantly breaks the fourth wall (with an excellent line delivered by Reynolds of ‘A fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That’s like… 16 walls’), so you really get to interact with the character and how he perceives superheros and the whole world around them. Also, with a kick-ass soundtrack by Tom ‘Junkie XL’ Holkenborg, this films has all the elements of a great superhero film, but with a psychotic antihero as the protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and think it is the perfect addition to the Marvel Universe, and would love to see more of these ‘adult’ superhero films in the future.

Now, disclaimer. With quite graphic scenes of murder, violence, sex and language, this is a comic-book movie like none of the other Marvel films. This film is rated 15 in the UK, and R in other countries, so it may not be suitable for younger viewers who are expecting the lighter movies that Marvel have produced in the past.

But I can’t wait to see the next addition of the franchise, and I know I’ll be rewatching this
movie over and over again.

So, if you’ve seen Deadpool, let me know!