The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson

Reading this one took quite a while, it's just so big. It's long, it's huge in scope, it has about a billion POV characters, it switches times, half of it is in flashback and it's got multiple magic systems going on, and it drops you straight into this world without any buildup. I'm going with a 3, but I think on a re-read this will work it's way up to a 4.

 

But it mostly works for me. Many of the characters are morally ambiguous, nobody here is perfect or black and white, and most of them do show substantial change (I hesitate to say growth, not all of them are "better" by the end of the book).

 

Of the three main POV characters, two are male, military, and fairly likeable albeit for very different reasons - one is the honorbound old warhorse, struggling to deal with politics and polite society (and the fact he might just be going mad), the other is the fantasy equivalent of a PTSD suffering vet, now a slave. There's actually a pretty good depiction of depression here. It's not just "Oh I am so sad, woe is me", but the character is shown to be utterly soulweary, no longer caring about anything, no longer even making an effort to live. It's quite powerful, and I think, a little lost in this behemoth of a book, but it's very very well written and for me, was the emotional hook that finally reeled me into finishing the book.

 

The third major protagonist is female, and to be honest a sneaky little.... She's hard to like, for a lot of the book. She also tends to serve as exposition girl a bit, but honestly, with this much going on, and most of the characters confused as to exactly what is going on for much of the time, a little exposition is needed. Even she, by the end, has become interesting, if still not likeable.

 

I'm going to have to re-read this - there's a twist in the tail of this tale that made me sit bolt upright, and made some of the things I'd glossed over for much of the book suddenly go click. In fact, I might re-read it a chapter at a time along with the tor.com re-read breakdown. But not just yet.