Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Review #5: The Way of Kings

Oh yes... yes I knew we would come to this day. I mentioned it during last week's review of Mistborn, and it gave me a hunger. Yes, a deep hunger. So, without further ado, here is the Friday Review of Brandon Sanderson's


This book was actually my first experience with Brandon Sanderson, and he's quickly becoming a favourite for me. I may have spoiled myself, however, because this book is one of the best I've read in a while.

Here's the blurb from the back cover, which I really liked:

I long for the days before the Last Desolation.
The age before the Heralds abandoned us and the Knights Radiant turned against us. A time when there was still magic in the world and honor in the hearts of men.
The world became ours, and we lost it. Nothing, it appears, is more challenging to the souls of men than victory itself.
Or was that victory an illusion all along? Did our enemies realize that the harder they fought, the stronger we resisted? Perhaps they saw that the heat and tThe bohe hammer only make for a better grade of sword. But ignore the steel long enough, and it will eventually rust away.
There are four whom we watch. The first is the surgeon, forced to put aside healing to become a soldier in the most brutal war of our time. The second is the assassin, a murderer who weeps as he kills. The third is the liar, a young woman who wears a scholar's mantle over the heart of a thief. The last is the highprince, a warlord whose eyes have opened to the past as his thirst for battle wanes.
The world can change. Surgebinding and Shardwielding can return; the magics of ancient days can become ours again. These four people are key.
One of them may redeem us.
And one of them will destroy us.

The world of Way of Kings (hereafter WoK) is similar to Mistborn in one way -- it's a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Only instead of darkness and ash all the time, it's occasional superstorms that strip the land of its dirt and flay anyone caught outside alive with hail and raging winds. Seasons change based on these storms, so things don't stay the same for long. But rather than just a thousand years of this, the society of WoK has dealt with this reality for tens of thousands. The world is populated with crustaceans and hardy armored pod-plants, the only things that can survive out in the storms. As many have said, Sanderson is a master of worldbuilding, and this world feels very real.

This book has a lot of characters, but only three main POV characters, while about a dozen (including our weeping assassin) show up in interludes between plot arcs. This allows you (the reader) to meet a lot of people, learn a bit about other places in the world and open up some side plots but at the same time letting you know you don't really need to worry about these things right now. It's like a recess from the epic storyline. And it is epic, since the book is 1200 pages in print.

The magic is predictably Sandersonian, with straight rules and a complex system (this is actually relates to my only real complaint with the novel, which was a long and detailed description of just how all three of the prologue character's abilities worked. I appreciate that he wants to tell us and make it simple to understand right off the bat, but I know some people are put off by long explanations of magic systems, and throwing one in at the prologue, even if it is a long prologue, is in poor taste. I got through it because Sanderson is a great writer and makes everything easy to read and because the story was already awesome, but its still something that I recommend against.

But seriously guys, this world. It's so magical and wonderful and real. It was refreshing to get a very original feeling world with a creative and involved religion. As I've said before, this is Mistborn for grownups. You travel so far and so wide, and it's all so detailed. I hadn't felt a world so real since reading Name of the Wind, which I know has detractors but seriously it rules. But where NotW has sappy romance and woeful regret (which are good in their own way) WoK just has more action, action, action. There are slow parts, but the book is structured in such a way that you are almost always being rewarded with action scenes whenever the pace settles down for what would otherwise be too long elsewhere.

If you're writing a book, I can't recommend WoK enough. The dramatic structure is obvious; it's like a play. But that doesn't stop your enjoyment of it, and the world and plot are deep enough that you can't just figure it out even knowing how some things will inevitably go. I was surprised by a few things, but really there was just so much to learn about the world that the book could be afforded a few slow moments or obvious twists. There was one twist at the end that was both not surprising and also really surprising at the same time. (I'll leave it to you to read) When I was reading this book I was really trying to be a good reader, and Sanderson made it easy in a good way.

Plus, magic power armour and giant bugs. What more could you ask for?

ONE WORD REVIEW: EPIC                                                       B/W/D: BUY SERIOUSLY ITS 2.99 ON KINDLE FOR SOME REASON

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