79. Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings
This was easily the best epic fantasy I've read in a long time--which may not be saying much, as I haven't tackled epic fantasy in some time. Suffice it to say, despite the length, I found myself devouring the book. It took me longer to read than most, but that's hardly surprising, since the book is easily 1000 pages + (I read on my Kindle, so the book didn't feel so long--except, of course, that the % of the book read hardly seemed to budge at times).
Anyway. On to an actual review. What impressed me the most about the book was the incredibly detailed world building. And I do mean *world*. Many fantasy books do a good job envisioning one country, with a few more vaguely described neighboring countries, but Sanderson has fleshed out a world--complete with history, religion, social class schisms, and more. The world itself fascinated me almost as much as the story.
The story is told primarily through three POVs: Kaladin, the dark-eyed son of a surgeon who became a soldier instead of following his father, and is now, through incredible ill-luck, a slave; Shallan, the daughter of a formerly influential house who becomes the ward of a heretic scholar to try to save her family; and Dalinar, the powerful uncle of the King who is growing increasingly uncertain about the wisdom of a drawn-out Alethi war to revenge the death of his brother (and the father of the current king). I like that the characters are so different, and that each of them has a powerful character arc. Sometimes certain story lines dragged out--I wasn't a fan of some of the long war scenes, for instance, and there were a few times when Shallan (one of my favorites) seemed to disappear for long periods of time.
But mostly, I loved it. I loved that the book challenged me to think about philosophical issues as the characters wrestled with moral and ethical dilemmas. And I like that even at the end of the book Sanderson has left me with mysteries about the world (what exactly are the Voidbringers? What do the Parshendi really want?) that will (probably) entice me into reading further in the series.