It's been a long time since I've read a good meaty fantasy epic. The last one I read ended up being one of my favorite books of all time, The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. Since then I've had major trepidations about jumping into another one in the fear that it wouldn't live up to the big shoes of both Rothfuss and the George R.R. Martin fantasy epics A Song of Ice and Fire. And yet I purchased a book a couple years back called The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. Its easily one of the best rated books on my Goodreads "to-read" list and I finally took the plunge.
I guess the best way I can start this review is a little more background. I've read four Brandon Sanderson novels (Steelheart, Firefight, The Rithmatist, and Mistborn). So I have a pretty good track record with his books. But jumping into a book that's over 1000 pages or 40+ audiobook hours was a little daunting. Like I said it had been a while. The other problem is that The Way of Kings takes a long time to warm up. I mean a long time. I'd say it was a third maybe up to a half of the way through the novel before the wheels really started to turn for me. There are just so many characters and so much world building to take in that at times its overwhelming. There's a ton going on in The Way of Kings.
Some of the world building pays off and other stuff is just to fill in your imagination the world that Sanderson has built. There are three primary characters and nearly a hundred other characters that you get to know. A lot of which have their own chapters. The main three are extremely engaging though. You have Dalinar Kohlin a Brightlord who's known to be one of the most honest men in the kingdom. Then you have Shallan a woman who's family is in ruins and is set to find her family help. And finally the main character at least in my opinion is Kaladin. He's a slave but has the most backstory and consistently throughout the book has the most interesting journey.
Once you get over the hump, The Way of Kings builds a world that's both engrossing and extremely entertaining. There's struggle, war, romance, political battles, and religious insights. You learn so much about the world of Roshar that at times I had to remember the world wasn't real. Sanderson has always been a great world builder but I've never read anything to the level of The Way of Kings. For me getting past the first half gave a huge payoff in the end. I can only hope the next book, Words of Radiance can start quickly and continue to build off of this incredible fantasy epic that Brandon Sanderson has written.