Brandon SandersonFor obvious reasons, most of the word these days out of the Brandon Sanderson/Tor camp has been about the upcoming release of The Gathering Storm (you know, the first-volume of the concluding trilogy to the 13-volume long series authored by two authors?), with little being said about Sanderson’s upcoming non-Wheel of Time project, The Way of Kings

Well, Sanderson spilled some of the beans over on the Barnes & Noble forums:

I’ve told Tor that I want to release KINGS on a schedule of two books, followed by one book in another setting, then two more KINGS. The series of KINGS has been named The Stormlight Archive. (The Way of Kings is the name of the first volume.)

So I should be doing plenty of shorter series in between. We’ll see how busy this all keeps me. I think I’d go crazy if I weren’t allowed to do new worlds every now and again.

But, then, KINGS turned out very, very well. (The first book is complete as of yesterday.) What is it about? Well…I’m struggling to find words to explain it. I could easily give a one or two line pitch on my previous books, but the scope of what I’m trying with this novel is such that it defies my attempts to pin it down.

It happens in a world where hurricane-like storms crash over the land every few days. All of plant life and animal life has had to evolve to deal with this. Plants, for instance, have shells they can withdraw into before a storm. Even trees pull in their leaves and branches. There is no soil, just endless fields of rock.

According to the mythology of the world, mankind used to live in The Tranquiline Halls. Heaven. Well, a group of evil spirits known as the Voidbringers assaulted and captured heaven, casting out God and men. Men took root on Roshar, the world of storms, but the Voidbringers chased them there, trying to push them off of Roshar and into Damnation.

The voidbringers came against man a hundred by a hundred times, trying to destroy them or push them away. To help them cope, the Almighty gave men powerful suits of armor and mystical weapons, known as Shardblades. Led by ten angelic Heralds and ten orders of knights known as Radiants, men resisted the Voidbringers ten thousand times, finally winning and finding peace.

Or so the legends say. Today, the only remnants of those supposed battles are the Shardblades, the possession of which makes a man nearly invincible on the battlefield. The entire world, essentially, is at war with itself–and has been for centuries since the Radiants turned against mankind. Kings strive to win more Shardblades, each secretly wishing to be the one who will finally unite all of mankind under a single throne.

That’s the backstory. Probably too much of it. (Sorry.) The book follows a young spearman forced into the army of a Shardbearer, led to war against an enemy he doesn’t understand and doesn’t really want to fight. It will deal with the truth of what happened deep in mankind’s past. Why did the Radiants turn against mankind, and what happened to the magic they used to wield?

I’ve been working on this book for ten years now. Rather than making it easier to describe and explain, that has made it more daunting. I’m sure I’ll get better at it as I revise and as people ask me more often.

In typical Sanderson fashion, there are a ton of names and systems and jargon thrown around that’s sure to make a lot more sense once we’ve read 200 pages of the novel. Still, Sanderson’s always been strongest at pulling together big ideas and weaving them together into a decent story.

Being near the end of The Final Empire, I’m paying a lot more attention to Sanderson now, and The Way of Kings seems like something that would be right up my alley. I’m curious to know why he’s planning it to be a ten-volume series. I can’t imagine any series that needs ten volumes to be told.

In any case, it’s nice for those of us who won’t be reading The Gathering Storm to finally find out a bit more about Sanderson’s next project.

  • Seth July 31, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    I read and enjoyed Elantris a while back, and definitely enjoyed it, although I felt it could’ve been better. I recently started in on The Final Empire as well. I’m not very far in, but I’m already enjoying the magic system and some of the worldbuilding elements.

  • The Mad Hatter July 31, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I was pleasantly surprised by how good Warbreaker was. In some ways I wish it had more action, but everything else balanced it out so well. I probably won’t be reading WoT as well, but I’ll be starting his Mistborn soon and I’d definitely check out The Way of Kings.

  • Phil July 31, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I read Mistborn and I’m listening right now to the Elantris audio book. Sanderson seems to be very skilled with the building of new worlds and magic systems and I think that he can also write an engaging story with colorful characters. I like Sanderson’s stuff so far and even thought it’s not his world, I’m definitely going to read The Gathering Storm. These details on The Way of Kings increase my interest.

  • Theywontletmepostwithoutaname July 31, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    You won’t be reading the gathering storm? that seems like the opposite of what you should do :P

    Read Warbreaker, its pretty good. Light and clean yet masterfully done.

    Ya this story seems to be pretty unique from what I have read about it, can’t wait till it comes out :P. the harsh environment will be a downer for me though, I prefer more vivid stuff.

  • Cory August 1, 2009 at 5:58 am

    It wasn’t long after reading Elantris and then The Final Empire that I felt like moving Sanderson to the top of my “Best Current Authors” list. I couldn’t justify such a move after only two books, though. Now that he’s added three more (Mistborn #2 & #3 and Warbreaker), it’s safe to do so. If any of the current slate of authors can pull off a 10 book cycle, while keeping things fresh and interesting, it’d be Sanderson. When he was announced to finish the WoT, I actually got goosebumps. I couldn’t believe it, since he was so young. As a huge Jordan fan, I feel like the luckiest reader in the world. Can’t wait until November!

  • Adam Whitehead August 2, 2009 at 5:42 am

    I’m halfway through WELL OF ASCENSION, my third Sanderson book, and I feel confident enough to say he’s a very good and, more importantly, constantly improving author. He’s not quite on the same level that Rothfuss and Lynch hit with their debuts, or that Abercrombie is operating at now, but he is not far off that quality level. Definitely a writer to watch.

    Just trying to work out what I can bribe Orbit with for a review copy of THE GATHERING STORM…

  • Howard Tayler August 3, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Disclaimer: Brandon’s a friend of mine, so obviously I’m biased.

    He’s bounced some Way of Kings/Stormlight concepts off of me in the past. In my estimation if he says it’s going to take ten books, they’re going to be ten really fantastic books. I’m looking forward to them.

  • Michael August 3, 2009 at 11:08 am

    im on Elantris, but have read Sanderson’s Warbreaker and his Mistborn Trilogy, i’ve also read the Wheel of Time. i can’t wait for both of this sereis to come out, sanderson has made it to my bookshelf of inspiring authors, which include Robert Jordan, Jim Butcher, Herman Hesse, and Frank Herbert to name a few. I’ve yet to be let down by Brandon and this series looks to be amazing.

  • Joe Sherry August 3, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Didja catch the part on the forum post where he mentioned that ALL of his original fantasy are tied together in an overarching meta way – that they share *something* linking them together?

  • aidan August 4, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Theywontletmepostwithoutaname – The only reason I won’t be reading The Gathering Storm is because I haven’t reached that part of Wheel of Time yet. I stopped after Crown of Swords and decided then that I’ll wait until the series is finished.

    Adam – I’m curious to see what you think of Well of Ascension, since the reviews seem pretty mixed on it. I finished up The Final Empire and, like you, moved straight onto the sequel.

    While I’m a big fan of Abercrombie and Lyunch, Sanderson just tickles that little Terry Brooks/Raymond Feist fanboy I have had in me since I first discovered fantasy.

    Is Orbit doing ARCs of The Gathering Storm? I heard that there weren’t going to be any. Or is that just from Tor?

    Howard – Say Hi to Brandon for me! To your point, as long as Brandon keeps the series standalonish (like The Final Empire was), I can see the potential for a 10-volume series. I just hope he doesn’t veer off into Robert Jordan territory, now that he’s worked in that man’s world!

    Joe – I didn’t catch that, but I always wondered if Brandon was working towards some overarching connection between his worlds. I’ll be curious to see if we ever find out what it is.

  • ericf August 6, 2009 at 4:51 am

    Just wondering, I saw no mention in the quote in your article about the series being 10 volumes. Just that he had been working on it for 10 years. Did he say it will require 10 books on his homepage?
    Thanks for a well-done site.

  • aidan August 6, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Eric – Good catch, I’ll go dig out that quote and give you a link. I can’t quite remember where I read it.

  • aidan August 6, 2009 at 6:59 am

    ‘My next series will be The Way of Kings, which is the start of a big epic for me. I’ve plotted it as ten books. Fantasy writers, we get into this business because we love the big epics. We grow up reading Brooks and Jordan, and we get to the point where we say, “I want to do this myself.”‘

    There’s the quote, taken from the same link as the rest of the information (originally from an interview he did in May 2009). Hope that clears things up a bit!

  • ericf August 7, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Yeah, thanks.

    Actually, I have a bit of a problem with long epics. Reading problems aside (my eyes tire quickly), I tend to forget what I’ve read pretty quickly so that’s even worse. I only re-read in special cases. Mostly favourite author’s books (some series) and single volume stories.

    I guess I like the idea of having several books in the same world/universe but not having them follow too closely on each other. It makes the reading easier and each book is satisfying in itself. I’m one of the readers that stopped reading Robert Jordan around Lord of Chaos since I couldn’t keep track of what was going on anymore. Neither could I cope with the changing style of his writing (as Brandon said when doing his readthrough of the novels, he started to broaden the world and its customs in such a way that it caused the narrative pace to change). I was looking for the excitement of the first three books to continue.

    Not having read any of Brandon Sanderson’s books I can’t comment on what a 10 book series from his pen would read like but I would still take a 5 book series before a 10 book series any day.

  • DariasDurss January 16, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    You said near the end of your article “you can’t imagine a series that needs ten volumes to tell a story” so I am guessing you never read any of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erickson. He has just published his ninth book of the series and it is written in such a way that you could never have enough books to tell the story. There is so much lore and back ground info in that series it is awesome. Try it.

  • aidan January 16, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Having been to Erikson’s home, I’m well acquainted with the Malazan Book of the Fallen series.

  • Neutral Fire March 17, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    I’ve been voraciously devouring Sanderson’s stuff since having Mistborn recommended to me by a good friend a couple of months ago. I’ve gone through Mistborn, Warbreaker, am in the middle of Alcatraz 3 and almost to the end of Elantris, so I’m gonna have a pretty hard time waiting for Way Of Kings. Now that I’ve got some really solid information, I’m definitely psyched.
    It’s gonna be a long few months.

  • Ashaman June 20, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    You won’t be reading TGS…It’s a shame, you seemed like you had a good head on your shoulders till I got to that part of the post..

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