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->''"[[MartialPacifist Life before death]], [[ComesGreatResponsibility strength before weakness]], [[HonorBeforeReason journey before destination]]."''
-->-- '''The [[TheCommandments First Ideal]] of the [[TheOrder Knights Radiant]]'''

''The Way of Kings'' is the first book of ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'', the EpicFantasy series by Creator/BrandonSanderson. ''The Way of Kings'' introduces the world of Roshar, with its BizarreSeasons and HostileWeather, as well as the cast of characters, including Kaladin, a [[TheMedic doctor]]-turned-ChildSoldier-turned-[[MadeASlave slave]]; Dalinar, a WarriorPrince who [[TheFettered adheres to the old codes of honor]]; Shallan, a young [[BlueBlood noblewoman]] from [[ImpoverishedPatrician a house on the brink of ruin]]; and Szeth, a HumanWeapon who [[ExtremeDoormat accepts any indignity or abuse]].

The story revolves around TheKingdom of Alethkar, a group of ten princedoms recently united as a single nation under Gavilar Kholin, who managed to force the other nine highprinces under his rule, becoming the first King of Alethkar in centuries. Some years later, Gavilar encounters a mysterious people while on a hunting expedition -- a free and independent group of Parshmen, the docile and listless SlaveMooks used by Alethi. Dubbing these people the Parshendi, Gavilar quickly signs a peace treaty with them... and is just as quickly betrayed, when the Parshendi have Szeth assassinate Gavilar on the very night the treaty was signed. Outraged, the Alethi -- led by Gavilar's son (and the new King of Alethkar) Elhokar -- immediately declare war on the Parshendi. Pursuing them to the Shattered Plains, a group of tightly-clustered plateaus separated by a labyrinth of deep, narrow chasms, the Alethi settle down to outlast the Parshendi in a war of attrition.

The main story picks up after several years of virtual stalemate on the Shattered Plains. Dalinar (Gavilar's younger brother and Elhokar's uncle) is one of the ten highprinces overseeing the war effort. Kaladin is brought into the camp of highprince Sadeas and forced to work as a bridgeman -- the physically punishing and suicidally dangerous job of carrying the bridges used to span gaps between plateaus, even in the face of Parshendi archers. Shallan, away from the Shattered Plain, seeks to become a student of the princess Jasnah (Elhokar's sister and Dalinar's niece), a renowned scholar and infamous heretic against Alethkar's primary religion of Vorinism; however, her ulterior motive is to steal Jasnah's [[MagiTech soulcaster]] (the only such artifact known to be outside the control of the Vorin clergy) and use it to save her impoverished noble house. Meanwhile, Szeth travels across Roshar on the orders of several changing masters, whose orders he is honorbound to obey regardless of how personally loathsome he finds them.

''The Way of Kings'' has Kaladin as its [[ADayInTheLimelight focus character]]; while the book [[TwoLinesNoWaiting shifts between all four plots]], Kaladin's is clearly the primary story, with less focus on Dalinar, Shallan, and Szeth (respectively, from most to least). Each book in ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'' is set to have a different "main" character; the sequel, ''Literature/WordsOfRadiance'', has Shallan in that role, with Szeth expected to be the third in ''Stones Unhallowed'', and Dalinar to eventually star in ''Highprince of War''.

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!!This book provides examples of:

* AbusiveParents: Shallan's father had a horrific temper. Fortunately, he had a soft spot for her, so she only saw it a few times, and he never hurt her. Unfortunately, her brothers were not so lucky. They're pretty screwed up because of it.
* ActionGirl:
** Parshendi females, if Dalinar's hypothesis of their battle pairs actually being {{Battle Couple}}s is right. [[spoiler: Sanderson's readings from the second book confirm that yes, female Parshendi are warriors too--and not only that, but Eshonai, the parshendi shardbearer Dalinar fought, is a woman]].
** [[spoiler:Jasnah]] might also be one, depending on how far her abilities go -- she can certainly handle herself fine if she has to.
* AffablyEvil: [[spoiler:Taravingian]]. Also [[spoiler:Kabsal]] probably qualifies.
* ApocalypticLog: [[spoiler:Dalinar's visions. An ApocalypticLog from ''God''.]]
* AristocratsAreEvil: Kaladin's opinion of lighteyes. He's often, though not always, proven right.
* {{Backstory}}: Kaladin gets the most of it, but other major characters have elements of their pasts revealed that make their motivations and characters clearer. WordOfGod says that each of the ten books in the series will focus on the backstory of a single character the way the first focused on Kaladin's.
* BadassBookworm: Jasnah.
* BadassCrew: Bridge Four, [[TookALevelInBadass eventually]].
* BadassGrandpa: Dalinar might not quite have grandchildren yet, but he's over fifty, has sons who are in their twenties, and is basically a one-man army if he's got his Plate and Blade.
* BavarianFireDrill: Kaladin pulls one of these near the end when [[spoiler:rescuing Dalinar's army]]. As basically the only one still capable of rational thought at the time, he starts ordering around soldiers who completely outrank him. Up to and including ''[[WarriorPrince Adolin]]''. It should be noted that he pulled this off despite the fact that, as a slave and a bridgeman, Kaladin has zero social standing and zero right to give orders to so much as the camp prostitutes, much less the heir to another highprince's army.
* BeingGoodSucks: See ChronicHeroSyndrome, below. Also Dalinar gets a lot of mockery and scorn from his fellow lighteyes for his honor and his [[TheFettered dedication to the Codes.]]
* BigNo: Kaladin, whenever someone important to him dies. Most notably Tien.
* ChekhovsGun: All over the place, but especially noticeable in the DistantPrologue, with the Heralds and the Last Desolation. The names of the Heralds themselves are important, and the [[spoiler:lost Herald]] is the most obvious, but even [[spoiler:the color of the blood on the ground]] becomes important later on.
* TheChessmaster: [[spoiler:King Taravangian]]. Also Sadeas.
* ChronicHeroSyndrome: Kaladin. He's almost a {{Deconstruction}} as the fact that he ''can't'' save everyone drives him to the point of despair several times.
* {{Cliffhanger}}: The book ends with [[spoiler:the Herald that was abandoned at the beginning of the book walking into the capitol of Alethkar and collapsing, possibly dead]]. [[spoiler:According to the prelude, the heralds swords would disappear if they died, so he's most likely alive.]]
* CombatMedic: Kaladin.
* CrypticConversation: A strange example. When people die slowly, in such a way that they can still speak at the end, they sometimes spout off a cryptic line that no one understands. [[spoiler:Taravingian is collecting these]], and at least one is [[spoiler:a line from the Lost Herald]]. Another is directly prophetic of an event that happens at the end of ''The Way Of Kings''.
* CynicismCatalyst: Kaladin becomes increasingly reluctant to try to help others, because it always ends badly for them. The death of his little brother Tien is the start of this.
* DeadpanSnarker: Shallan, who seems to have the sort of mind which automatically deconstructs every sentence she hears and prepares a witty retort, and the King's Wit, a character whose ''job'' it is to provide the royal court with snarky running commentary. Jasnah can also descend into this when her sense of humor shows through her usually stoic countenance.
* {{Determinator}}: Kaladin, when he's not heart-rendingly depressed.
* {{Doorstopper}}: Quoth Sanderson's friend and ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' creator Howard Tayler: [[http://www.schlockmercenary.com/blog/index.php/2010/08/30/the-way-of-kings/ "This 1000-page tome is the best argument you’ll have all year to get an e-reader, because you HAVE to have this book, but you might not be muscular enough to carry it around."]]
* DramaticSitDown: Invoked by Sadeas, who brings along a chair when telling the other characters some bad news. He then looks contemptuous when [[IllBoy Renarin]] sits down.
* DrivenToSuicide: The "Honor Chasm" exists to allow bridgemen this one last luxury. Averted with [[spoiler:Kaladin (because Syl stops him)]], and subverted elsewhere with [[spoiler:Shallan]], who had to fake an attempted suicide. ItSeemedLikeAGoodIdeaAtTheTime.
* DueToTheDead: Subverted big time. [[spoiler:Kaladin exploits the Parshendi's race-wide BerserkButton by armoring himself in their dead, and attracting the attention of ''the entire army'']].
* EmpoweredBadassNormal: [[spoiler:Kaladin]], sort of. For the first half of the book he doesn't do anything supernatural as far as we can tell, and the nature of his abilities makes it hard to tell if he's doing anything magical at all, but he gradually does more and more obviously supernatural things. It's hard to tell exactly when he starts developing powers, but he certainly didn't have them to begin with.
* EmotionsVsStoicism: Played with; Kaladin believes, teaches and was taught that caring about something or someone gives you a reason to fight harder, while most soldiers tend to favor stoicism over emotions.
* {{Epigraph}}: These appear at the beginning of each chapter. For the first and last sections, they are quotes from dying people that [[spoiler: are collected in Taravangian's hospital]]. The second section is correspondence from [[spoiler: who appears to be Wit/Hoid]] to an "immortal" - possibly another Shardholder. The third section lists quotes that Jasnah has collected in her research regarding the Voidbringers.
* EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses: Jasnah.
* ExactWords:
-->'''Wit:''' What of you, Prince Renarin? Your father wishes me to leave you alone. If you can speak and yet say nothing ridiculous, I will leave you alone for the rest of the week.\\
''[{{beat}}]''\\
'''Renarin:''' Nothing ridiculous.
** For the record, this works.
* {{Expy}}:
** Dalinar is a general leading his people in a hopeless war, finding himself disgusted by his people's blind lust for vengeance, struggling to raise his son, also a military leader, in righteousness under those conditions, greatly interested in history, and [[spoiler:receiving visions from God]]. The parallels to Mormon, author of Literature/TheBookOfMormon, are striking. Not surprising considering Sanderson is an active member of the LDS faith; similar themes are common in his books.
** Szeth is more than a dead ringer for an [[Franchise/AssassinsCreed Assassin]]. Especially at the start of the book when he wears white clothes and makes a deliberately public and spectacular assassination. Between his speed, mobility, unusual abilities, hidden weaponry, and tendency to both feel for his victims and speak with them after dealing the fatal blow, Szeth's introduction could pretty much be ripped straight from an assassination mission in ''Assassin's Creed'', although the precise mechanisms (i.e. Shardblade instead of a Hidden Blade and Surgebinding instead of genetic Assassin abilities) are different.
* ExtremeDoormat: Szeth-son-son-Vallano. If his master commands anything, he will do it without question, with two exceptions: he will not kill himself, and he will not give up his Shardblade.
* EyeAwaken: Kaladin promises to do this after his execution, mainly in the hope that his bravado will leave a legacy. [[spoiler: Then he really does it.]]
* FaceHeelTurn: The Radiants, for some reason. We even get to see it at one point. [[spoiler:They didn't turn on humanity so much as [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere abandon them to their fate.]]]]
* FairyCompanion: Syl, to Kaladin.
* AFatherToHisMen: Dalinar, and Kaladin. Adolin is showing signs of it as well.
* FamousLastWords: Roughly around the same time that Gavilar Kholin was assassinated, people around Roshar began spouting cryptic ravings near-death. which are apparently the result of seeing ''something'' while at death's door. And ''someone'' is recording them, going by the epigraphs. [[spoiler: King Taravangian is deliberately killing people to record their last words, though at least one person who was dying in this manner realized what was going on and refused to speak of what he saw.]]
* FieldOfBlades: This happens for about fifteen seconds [[spoiler:when the Knights Radiant abandon their Shards in one of Dalinar's visions, up until the watching soldiers realize the Shards are free to take.]]
* FictionalDocument: The eponymous''The Way of Kings'' is a book derided as borderline blasphemy by modern Alethi, due in part to such silly ideals as making ''peace'' with your enemies. Jasnah also peruses plenty of these in her pursuit of [[spoiler:information on the true nature of the Voidbringers]].
* FourIsDeath: Before Kaladin turns things around, Bridge Four has the highest mortality rate.
* FourStarBadass: Dalinar all the way.
* FriendlyEnemy: Dalinar and Sadeas were actual ''friends'' before Gavilar was assassinated. Now, while they still have respect for one another's abilities and are cordial in person, Sadeas wants to outmaneauver Dalinar however he can, and while Dalinar ''wants'' to still like and trust Sadeas, deep down part of him knows Sadeas probably doesn't deserve it. [[spoiler:He doesn't]].
* GeniusBruiser: Kaladin, a skilled surgeon in addition to having enough martial skill to kick all kinds of ass.
* GloryHound: All of the Alethi Highprinces, except for Dalinar.
* [[spoiler:GodIsDead: On multiple levels.]]
* GoneHorriblyRight: Kaladin's "bridge shield" idea works incredibly well. So well, in fact, that [[spoiler:the Parshendi ignore them in favor of easier targets, and the other bridges try to copy the idea but make a mess of it]]. The end results are not pretty. Though later on, the bridge shield maneuver saves the entire team when [[spoiler: some Parshendi flank Bridge Four while trying to rescue Dalinar's army.]]
* GravityMaster: Szeth. [[spoiler:By the end of the book, Kaladin has begun to develop abilities in this vein too]].
* HarbingerOfImpendingDoom: [[spoiler:The Lost Herald.]]
* HenpeckedHusband: Matal, a minor lighteyes. He usually lets his wife do all the talking for him, but when she's not around he's actually pretty reasonable.
* HollywoodAtheist: Subverted. Shallan expects Jasnah to be like this, but she's actually a much more sympathetic (and interesting) character. Jansah's atheism is a personal philosophical stance; she'll enthusiastically defend it in an argument, but she doesn't try to force on others.
* HollywoodTactics: Discussed and ziggzagged. The terrain around the Shattered Plains makes it very difficult for the massive Alethi armies to actually pin down the Parshendi for a decisive victory, forcing the Alethi highprinces to establish a "siege" by occupying the western end of the plains (which is the only way out of the region) and whittling down the Parshendi through attrition while fighting over the extremely valuable gemhearts that can be recovered from pupating chasmfiends. However, as time passes, the Alethi tendency to make everything into a competition has led to the highprinces being less concerned with ''winning'' the war and more concerned with outdoing each other by winning the most gemhearts. This results in the highprinces essentially fighting in an uncoordinated fashion to inflate their own egos and status, and the way the war is being dragged out puts strain on the whole country.
* HolyHitman: Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar.
* HonorBeforeReason: Dalinar's rivals accuse him of this; also what binds Szeth to what's essentially slavery.
* HumanoidAbomination: The ''things'' that appear [[spoiler: in Shallan's drawings]], which look like human figures but wearing stiff cloaks made of metal and whose heads are shaped like strange symbols. [[spoiler: Jasnah]] apparently is more familiar with them (they are [[spoiler: somehow connected to Soulcasting]]) and [[spoiler: Elhokar]] is seeing them in mirrors as well...
* HumansAreTheRealMonsters: A very odd [[InvokedTrope invocation]] of this trope, as it essentially states that humans are bastards for not [[spoiler:committing genocide]] when they should have. "[[WhamLine We don't throw away something we can use]]."
* IAmAMonster: [[spoiler:King Taravangian]] agrees he is when Szeth calls him out on it.
* IfIWantedYouDead: A rare hero-on-hero example. At the end of the book, [[spoiler:Dalinar]] says this to [[spoiler:King Elhokar]] almost word-for-word after delivering a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown to ''prove his loyalty''. By showing that he ''could'' kill him if he wanted, but leaving him alive, he shows that he doesn't want him dead at all.
-->[[spoiler:Elhokar]]: So you're not going to kill me?\\
[[spoiler:Dalinar]]: Storms, no! I love you like a son, boy.
* ImportantHaircut: Important ''shave'', actually. When Bridge Four pools their money to buy Rock a razor to thank him for the cooking he does for them, he not only uses it for himself, but also acts as an impromptu barber for the rest of the crew. This marks an important turning point, where the bridge crew have started to feel like ''people'' again.
* LaserGuidedAmnesia: Dalinar was cursed so that he can no longer remember his late wife. Even to the point where he can't quite make out her name when other people say it.
* LastRequest: Before he dies Gavilar gives his assassin a dark-glowing sphere of unknown origin and nature, to keep away from "them", and a cryptic message for his brother. Szeth obliges in taking the sphere and leaving the message because he believes the last wishes of the dying are sacred. The cryptic message causes even more confusion when it is found, however, because Szeth leaves it as though Gavilar himself wrote it yet in Alethi culture only women write and read.
* MeaningfulEcho: Each of Szeth's chapters begin the same way: "Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar, ."
* MeaningfulName:
** Kaladin originally didn't like his name because it sounded too close to a lighteyes name (which are frequently one syllable off from being a palindrome), but he gets over it. This mirrors his later hatred of lighteyes ([[spoiler:including his refusal to become a shardbearer, because doing so would ''make'' him a lighteyes]]), but eventual reconsidering. The end of ''The Way of Kings'' also sets him up as [[spoiler:Dalinar's NumberTwo -- the next best thing to a lighteyes, without actually being one]].
** Given that WordOfGod says the Almighty is named Honor, Honor Chasm could have an entirely different meaning.
* MetafictionalTitle: The namesake book is something between a holy book, philosophy, and a chivalric code.
* MiseryBuildsCharacter: For Kaladin.
* TheMole: [[spoiler:Kabsal]], who used a ConvenientlyUnverifiableCoverStory to get close to their target.
* NecessarilyEvil: [[spoiler:Taravangian]] considers himself to be this.
--> '''Szeth:''' You are a monster.\\
'''[[spoiler:Taravangian]]:''' Yes, but I am the monster who will save this world.
* NonHumanSidekick: Syl.
* ObfuscatingStupidity:
** [[spoiler:King Taravangian]]. According to WordOfGod, this is not a true example. [[spoiler: Taravangian's intelligence actually ''changes'' randomly from day to day. This is probably a curse or boon from the Nightwatcher. So in the scene with Jasnah and Shallan, he's not obfuscating anything, he's actually an idiot that day.]]
** Also Wit, though in his case it's more that he appears to refuse to take anything seriously than that he's stupid. [[spoiler:Since he knows far more about the coming apocalypse than anybody else and is actually a dimension hopping BigGood in disguise, he simply knows that the political games and pointless fighting is far less important than what is coming.]]
* OneDialogueTwoConversations: [[spoiler: Dalinar eventually realizes [[OhCrap to his horror]] that The Almighty isn't actually responding to him in his visions--he's simply talking to whoever is receiving the visions. [[ApocalypticLog The Almighty]] ''[[GodIsDead is dead]]''.]]
* OnlyTheChosenMayRide: The Ryshadium, a breed of horses that pick their riders. Dalinor and Andolin each have a Ryshadium mount, larger and smarter than other horses. Their antagonist, Sadeas is frustrated that he is unable to have a horse as fine, despite his great wealth.
* PeaceConference: The prologue to ''The Way of Kings'' is on the day of one. It doesn't end well.
* PhraseCatcher: ''Everyone'' ends up calling Kaladin "Stormblessed" sooner or later, although he never says it himself.
* ProperlyParanoid: Elhokar, as revealed near the end of ''The Way of Kings''.
* PurpleEyes: Jasnah and her mother both have them. In this world, though, it's not an uncommon color for a lighteyes.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: The bridgemen, especially Bridge Four.
* RobbingTheDead: Canyon duty requires the Bridgemen to do this. It's their most hated duty because it's both disgusting and dangerous.
* ReverseArmFold: Kaladin adopts parade rest during bridge runs to show his discipline. Eventually the rest of his crew join him.
* SafetyInIndifference: Kaladin tries this to fight his ChronicHeroSyndrome, because everyone he tries to help [[DoomMagnet ends up dead]].
* SelfMadeOrphan: [[spoiler:Shallan]]. The exact circumstances have yet to be revealed.
* SerialRomeo: Adolin, Dalinar's son, has a new girlfriend every week, on average.
* ShroudedInMyth: Pretty much the entirety of the Heraldic Epochs, especially with regards to the Voidbringers and the Knights Radiant.
* SlaveBrand: Alethi slaves are marked with a brand on the forehead. Slaves who make a nuisance of themselves (for example, by repeated escape attempts) are given an additional brand.
* SpiritAdvisor: Syl.
* SpookyPhotographs: Not really photographs, but Shallan's drawings of the symbol heads certainly fits the trope.
* StableTimeLoop: Maybe. [[spoiler:Can Dalinar ''alter'' the past in his visions, or are they just a sort of interactive memory?]]
* ToBeLawfulOrGood: Kaladin and Szeth both face this question, and go to HonorBeforeReason lengths to uphold their choice. Kaladin chooses good, which initially gets his squad killed and himself branded a slave, while Szeth chooses lawful, performing horrible acts under orders simply because he swore to follow whoever holds his oathstone.
* TookALevelInBadass: Kaladin. Also Bridge Four (''because'' of Kaladin).
* TheTower: Used metaphorically in two different ways: First, the Tower is one of the glyphs (along with the Crown) that makes up Dalinar's House symbol. In this sense it probably represents power. Second, it's the name given to a large plateau in the Shattered Plains, so named because it's tilted and rises up on one side. The name here represents calamity, as no Alethi assault on the Tower has ever succeeded. [[spoiler: This is definitely true as of the end of the book.]]
* TricksterArchetype: The King's Wit.
* TheUnpronounceable: Numuhukumakiaki'aialunamor. Most would prefer "Rock" too. Oddly enough, his name actually translates to "Rock". Several different kinds of rock, specifically ''all the different kinds of rock his father discovered before he was born''. And it's a poem. Poems-as-names is typical for his culture.
* WeAREStrugglingTogether: The Alethi war of vengeance borders on this at times.
* WeHaveReserves: The reason why Sadeas uses completely unarmored bridgemen, because he has an unending supply and they distract enemy archers.
** Also an AvertedTrope. One of the reasons Sadeas wants the enemy archers distracted is that he ''doesn't'' have an unlimited supply of trained and equipped soldiers.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: [[spoiler:Taravingian]]. Sadeas also presents himself as this, though it's very possible this is just how he justifies his personal ambition.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Gaz basically disappears two-thirds of the way through the book. To be fair, the characters comment on this, likely making this a ChekhovsGun.
* WhatTheHellAreYou:
** People's usual reaction to Szeth [[spoiler:and to a slight degree Kaladin]]'s [[GravityMaster Surgebinding]].
--->'''Alethi soldier''': What are you?\\
'''Szeth''': [[PreAsskickingOneLiner I am]] [[ApologeticAttacker ... sorry.]]
** It also serves as a MeaningfulEcho.
--->'''[[spoiler:The king of Jeh Kevad]]''': What are you?\\
'''Szeth''': [[PreMortemOneLiner Death.]]
* WhamEpisode: Part Five of ''The Way of Kings'' is as Wham as it gets. When this part of the book is responsible for about half the spoilers on this page it should tell you something.
* WhamLine:
** Syl telling Kaladin [[spoiler:"I am honorspren"]]. It explains a major question -- the nature of her relationship to Kaladin -- and provides a whole new perspective on things in ''three words''.
** And then this, together with Dalinar's realisation a few lines earlier that [[spoiler:the words he has been hearing were a recording, and not an interactive conversation as he had assumed]].
--->''[[spoiler:'''Almighty''': I am... I was... God. The one you call the Almighty, the creator of mankind. [[GodIsDead And now I am dead.]] Odium has killed me. I am sorry.]]''
** Jasnah and Shallan realise that [[spoiler:the Voidbringers are the parshmen]].
** All the more dramatic because it has not yet been explored, but Shallan (when required to give up a secret truth) revealing--to the reader at least--that [[spoiler:she killed her father]].
* YouJustToldMe: [[spoiler:Kaladin gives Teft an order in military jargon, to which Teft responds appropriately for a sergeant, revealing some of his hidden backstory]]

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