Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review of The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

A thousand page novel needs a lot to keep a reader going. Sanderson delivers with this story. Mostly what hooked me and kept me reading were the world building and the characterizations. A unique setting for a fantasy novel that at first feels gimmicky but later reveals itself to be a product of the deep world building the author pours into his story.
The characterizations were among the best Ive read in any genre. Kaladin is a rare specimen in a fantasy novel: a character who comes close to true despair, and his agonizing climb back into life is detailed step by painful step. He emerges as a Spartacus figure, but also a human being trying to rectify the mistakes of his past.
Shallan, the female protagonist, starts out as a girl trying to save a family, and devoted to absolute deviousness to accomplish that. However, her arc of going from narrow minded adolescent to a true student is fascinating as well.
And the final revelations, after 900 pages or so, were well worth the effort to get there. I can only remember a few times of absolute take your head off, holy shit I did not see that coming, wow that changes everything, moments in fantasy novels over the years. Robert Jordan's The Shadow Rising was one such reading experience(you're going to make the Aiel do WHAT?).
Some things he excels at: battle and fight scenes. The duels are well done but more impressive are the battle scenes. He captures that feeling of being in the middle of the shit and the only way out is to fight. You can smell the leather and feel the bite of the steel. When he introduces fantastical figures with enhanced weapons they blend seamlessly into the narrative and the action.
Looking forward to the next installment.

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