The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There were 10 heralds but 9 survived the Desolation and choose not to return to the place of pain and fire (breaking the Oathpact), they just walked away leaving their blades behind. The 10th Herald Taln was left behind to bind the Oathpact.
Kaladin was a dark-eyed son of a doctor (Lirin). On Roshar eye color determines your status. Light-eyes are rulers. When the Brightlord of their village dies he leaves soul stones to Kaladin's family so that Kaladin can study to be a doctor. The new Brightlord (Roshone) is angered by this as he wants the wealth for himself. Brightlord Roshone tries to turn the village against Kaladin's family. When Brightlord Roshone and his son are injured in a dangerous hunt, he blames Kaladin's Father for his son's death. To get even he drafts Kaladin's younger brother (Tien) into the army. Kaladin chooses to go with him to protect him but is helpless to prevent Tien's death. He then tries to protect the young men in his squadron but when they are run down by a Shardbearer he is helpless to save them. When the Shardbearer attacks Brightlord Amaram his guard flees but Kaladin brings the Shardbearer down saving Amaram. Traditionally the killer of the Shardbearer gets the Shardblade and Shardplate (which are priceless and convey wealth and prestige on the owner) but associating it with the death of his squad he doesn't want it and gives it to another member of the squad. Unfortunately Amaram wants it for himself he kills the survivors of the squad and sells Kaladin into slavery to cover up his theft of the Shardblade and Shardplate. Kaladin finds himself a Bridgeman owned by Highprince Sadeas (who uses bridgemen as fodder against the Parshendi). When Kaladin figures out a way to use the bridge as a shield against the Parshendi arrows Sadeas has him left out in a highstorm to die, but Kaladin lives. More determined then ever to keep the men of Bridge 4 alive, Kaladin secretly trains them as soldiers and they prepare to escape. Their chance comes when Sadeas betrays Highprince Dalinar (The King's Uncle) by leaving him stranded on a plateau surrounded by Parshendi. Unable to leave Dalinar and his troops to die, Kaladin and his men (Rock, Moash, Skar, Drehy, Sigzil (Wit's servant), Lopen, and Teft) go back for them. Against the odds they are able to save Dalinar, his eldest son (Adolin) and some of his troops. Dalinar promises to protect Kaladin and his men from Sadeas. When they get back to camp Dalinar confronts Sadeas about his betrayal and demands he sell the bridgemen to him. Sadeas refuses until Dalinar offers his Shardblade in exchange for all the bridgemen. Dalinar then offers Kaladin and his men positions as his honor guard.
Highprince Dalinar has been seeing visions of the past during highstorms. Not sure if the visions are real or if he can trust them he considers abdicating and letting Adolin take over. But in the end Dalinar realizes the "Blackthorn" is needed to unite his people (the Alethi) . Armed with the knowledge that King Elhokar cut his own saddle girth. Which allowed Sadeas the chance to manipulate him, he demands the Elhokar make him Highprince of War.
Szeth (the assassin) is ordered by Highprince Taravangian to kill Dalinar.
Shallan gives up her plan to steal Jasnah's fabrial in order to really work with her. They discover that the Voidbringers are the Parshendi.
Wit awaits Taln's arrival.
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