The Way of Kings

By Brandon Sanderson

Fantasy

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In A Nutshell:

The Way of Kings has been a long time in coming. Sanderson has been talking about doing a multivolume epic in the tradition of The Wheel of Time since well before he was tapped to complete that series. But he decided to take it slow and work his way up to said multivolume epic with two practice runs in the excellent standalone novel Elantris and the three volume Mistborn series.

That moderation is one of the things that interested me in Sanderson’s work after I heard he was taking over The Wheel of Time. For a long time fantasy authors would jump straight into a trilogy because that’s how Tolkien did it. In recent decades authors have taken books that would have made good standalone stories or maybe stretched into five or six books tops and continued churning out new entries year after year with no end in sight because that’s how Robert Jordan did it. So to see an author who practices moderation right out of the gate instead of letting a little success go to his head is refreshing.

And make no mistake, The Way of Kings is well worth the wait. All the usual hallmarks of a Sanderson novel are in evidence: complex character driven plot, an overarching threat that is hinted at but not immediately apparent since this is the opening novel, ridiculously complex magic systems, and plenty of crowning moments of funny and awesome to go around. Way of Kings manages to dress old fantasy tropes in new clothing and make them seem new and interesting again.

If you’re a fan of fantasy books then you should go out and pick up The Way of Kings. Sanderson is predicting that the series will stretch out to ten books, and in this case I’m inclined to believe the author since he’s proven in the past that he can deliver on a schedule. Sure it’ll be a good decade before the series is finished even if he does keep up with his usual breakneck writing pace, but if this first volume is any indication then this series will quickly provide a new well-needed epic fantasy to fill the speculation and nitpicking void that will be left when The Wheel of Time finally comes to a close in early 2011.

Warnings:

This is the first book in an estimated ten book series. It works well as a standalone novel, but if you’re annoyed by waiting a year in between your books then you might consider waiting and picking this up in 2021 when it will hopefully be wrapped up. You’d be doing yourself a disservice, but I know some people are weird about reading an ongoing series after getting burned by authors like Martin and Jordan in the past.