This is my first foray into the world of Brandon Sanderson. For years, friends have lauded his work but I have never attempted to read his novels. After completing The Way of Kings , it leaves me to question why it took so long. The scale of the novel is certainly epic. It may be that this novel is worthy of a 5 star rating. As the novel hit its stride in the last quarter, I couldn’t read fast enough, but in the end some annoyances brought my rating down.
Honestly, it is difficult to summarize the plot. I attempted to give my wife an overview of the novel and realized my attempts were futile. The majority of the novel focuses so strongly on character development and the plot unfolds so slowly that it takes effort to catch the plot thread. Just read the Goodreads summery HERE, it will be better that what I will come up with.
Lots to Love
Although my “plot summary” does not make the book out to be promising, I assure you there is a lot to love. Fans of fantasy will enjoy the compelling (albeit slowly developed) magic system, religious system, history and characters. In fact, every aspect mentioned is quite complex. In some ways, this novel reads like the biggest story introduction you have ever read.
For some, this will be a major turn off. The pace is slow and the reader’s understanding of the underlying power is veiled. If pace is important to you, you may wish to put this book aside. If you enjoy the scenic route, strap in, it’s a long ride.
While I found the novel to be slow, the sheer detail and effort in development won me over. I am a sucker for well developed characters and this novel has them in spades. We learn of their past and we have a first hand view of their development. If you feel that you do not understand the characters after you have put down the tome, you probably read a different book.
It’s Not All Fun and Games
While the writing is masterful, there were several aspects I did not like. The first is one of my pet peeves when it comes to literature. I am bothered when novels become self indulgent. From what I have read, this series is meant to be Sanderson’s master work. Maybe it will be. I certainly felt like he anticipates it will be. If anything, the sheer size of the novel is an indication of this. For some reason, especially in fantasy, there seems to be an idea that amazing works need to massive. I listened to the audiobook in this instance. It was well in excess of 40 hours. I had a good grasp on these character WELL before the 40 hour mark. When I take on a book this big, it’s as if the author want me to offer up a sacrifice of my time on the table of his pages. I have more patience for massive works when they are self contained or provide more extensive plot.
If each of these novels are going to require a shoulder strap to carry, I may become more pissy as the series progresses. Don’t write me a masterpiece, leave me to decide on its greatness. (At least in my own mind)
Is this novel great? Yes. Does it feel like the author wants me to think it’s great? Yes. Will you be pissed off because it feels like the author is suffering from delusions of grandeur? I will leave that to you to decide.