Starting a series that will probably last for the majority of my adult life is always an odd thing to do. Sanderson has planned to write 10 books in this series and if he takes 3 years between each book, that is going to be 20+ years from now until it finishes and I’ll be in my mid 50’s by then. The thing of it is, will I still be interested in this type of epic fantasy 20+ years from now? I have no idea, probably, but my taste may change completely. Anyway, I finally read The Way of Kings and I am planning on reading the next two books this fall sometime. More than likely, like The Wheel of Time I’ll end up reading these multiple times in the future as more books in the series gets written. All of that is neither hear nor there, so let’s get to the actual review. The Way of Kings is the start of building something special with its history and backstory but the slow pace that the plots unravel in this book can be frustrating.
The Way of Kings focuses on three different scenes, a young woman named Shallan becoming a scholarly student, an ex soldier turned slave named Kaladin, and a powerful leader named Dalinar. Yes, there are interludes with other characters but the majority of this book focuses on these three characters. From where these characters begin the story and where they end up at the end seems like a very small path. Sanderson adds a lot of history and backstory to this world and to the characters in order to fill in blanks but this doesn’t cover for the fact that not a whole lot really happens in this book. Yes, this is epic fantasy, and yes this is how epic fantasy is written, and I love it, but I was hoping for more in this book. Even if Sanderson didn’t tell people this was going to be a large series, it was incredibly evident it will be because of the slow pace.
Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the amount of development in this novel, I still really enjoyed the read. I really want to unpack the history of Roshar now. There is a depth to this world and its beginnings that is only hinted at in this novel. Even though the world building is a good start, Sanderson is still holding back A LOT. I can see, as this series progresses, reveals happening that are just going to blow my mind.
I think that Sanderson suffers from what a lot of epic fantasy writers suffer from, their readers not having enough time to read. Epic fantasy takes a ton of time to read, so it isn’t surprising when the same epic fantasy authors are always mentioned. When you get into epic fantasy, you usually are reading the same 10 authors that everyone else is reading, and it may seem like these writers are overhyped because they are always mentioned. Going into this book, I tried very hard to put that type of hype aside, and just enjoy the book for what it is, but I can’t help but feel like I was a bit disappointed. My score is a good score, so why would I feel like it was a disappointment if it wasn’t a 5 star read for me? It’s an odd combination of expectation, hype, and reality. Finding a good balance of enjoying, criticizing, balancing expectations, and hype vs reality is a tough thing to do in the epic fantasy reading land.
18/25 Possible Score
4 – Plot
4 – Characters
4 – World Building
3 – Writing Style
3 – Heart & Mind Aspect