With The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson begins a new richly-detailed fantasy series known as The Stormlight Archive. Clocking in at over 1,000 pages, it is only the very beginning of an epic story that will span an estimated ten books before its completion.

There are three main protagonists, along with numerous side characters. Kaladin is a surgeon’s son who becomes a soldier when his brother is conscripted, and through a series of misfortunes and betrayals ends up as a bridgeman—a slave carrying siege bridges in the king’s army, under the command of an unscrupulous High Prince. Kaladin, with his medical and military knowledge, struggles to save his bridge crew from the highly lethal job while discovering his latent powers. Dalinar is the king’s uncle, a rare honorable High Prince, who is constantly frustrated by the other nobles’ greed and lack of morals. Shallan, who is on the other side of the continent, seeks an apprenticeship to Jasnah—a dedicated scholar and sister of the king—in order to steal a magical artifact used to transmute matter.

The magic systems used in the book are fun. Besides the Soulcasters, who transmute matter and mold it into things like food or buildings, there are the incredible Surgebingers. The Surgebinders can play some crazy tricks with gravity, walking on walls or ceilings as if they were floors…or applying the same effect to other people or objects. Surgebinders also exhibit superhuman strength and healing.

One of the parts I found the most interesting is the Shardblades: six-foot-long swords that coalesce from mist when summoned, which can slice through pretty much anything with practically no resistance. If one passes through somebody, it kills instantly without leaving a mark. These are often coupled with Shardplate, which is an extremely durable armor that exponentially enhances its wearer’s strength and agility. They’re exceedingly rare, and priceless.

Oh, and Hoid makes an appearance, though he goes by a different name for the most part. Hoid—for those who haven’t read the Mistborn series, Elantris, or Warbreaker—is a character who makes small cameo appearances in most of Sanderson’s books, generally lending aid to the heroes in some way or another. (And he’s certainly not the only way [spoilers ho!] the books are connected.)

It’s difficult to sum-up the story, which is long and fairly complex, without giving away too much. Despite the climactic (and surprising) ending, you can tell that the book is only setting up a massive tale that is yet to come. The Way of Kings is a great book, one I impatiently await a sequel to.