I’m just going to get this out there right now. I’m not a big fan of this. I like it, but I don’t think it is that great. I love epic fantasy, but something about this series isn’t grabbing me. In fact I was not truly interested in the plot until about 500 pages in- not quite halfway into this monstrous 1200 page mass market paperback. That’s a big investment for something that I came out of only liking a little bit.
There is a lot going on in this, but the focus is primarily on four characters. One is a surgeon turned warrior turned slave. One is prince who is having strange and violent visions. Another is an assassin beholden to his various masters. And finally there is a very smart and artistic young lady who has grand plans of thievery. There is also plotting and planning on a large political scale and hints of the land’s mythical past. So, why didn’t I fall completely in love with this?
I’m still not sure. The world clearly has a lot of thought behind it. There are many creatures, cultures, and political structures to learn about. But, for me, it seems like a lot to pack into one volume and yet it somehow feels thin. For example, I had no trouble enjoying George R. R. Martin’s epic series. His novels and this one are similar in scale and organization. Sanderson’s novel has a multitude of characters and perspectives- like Martin’s- but I simply care more about Martin’s. They feel more realistic and have more depth to their situations, personalities and motives- even from the first volume. (Keep in mind I read A Song of Ice and Fire before I ever tried watching the HBO series so my familiarity with his characters is not affected by the double exposure of seeing the TV show & reading the books.) The plot feels like it is trying to be complex too, but it feels linear so far.
Many scenes feel unnecessary and so many names and places end up becoming muddled and underdeveloped. I really appreciate the sort of glossary/family tree in the back of Martin’s novels. I think that something of that sort would really help Sanderson’s series. (Though I am happy The Way of Kings contains drawings and maps!) There is a lot to like about this novel, but I feel as if it could have almost been cut in half and still effectively told the enjoyable story. There is a lot of repetition of character’s thoughts and feelings. Add to that the dialogue isn’t very engaging. One character is supposed to be quick witted with a sharp tongue, but her lines do not reflect her description. Another character is so pure and just that he is boring and almost corny.
So, this was an OK fantasy read. I feel like a lot of the novel could have been cut and it would have made for a tighter story. I don’t really see myself picking up the next books in this series, but I’m not counting out Sanderson completely.