I liked The Way of Kings a lot, mainly because it’s a neat and at times moving story with some lovable characters that do stuff that appeal to the warrior mage-prince that has been lurking somewhere in me ever since I was a kid.
Yet, there are some minor things that keep this book from being a literary and artistic masterwork:
The world building is good, but it feels a bit like painting by numbers at times – yet not enough to be irritated by it. Not everything feels fully fleshed out (or even necessary, like the spren), but I guess one should withhold definite judgement on that until the entire series has finished.
There’s too much repetition in the novel: certain traits of the characters – Kaladin and Dalinar especially – are repeated over and over. Some other stuff is repeated too. This makes the book drag a bit at times, but again, not enough to be irritated by it. It feels like Sanderson explicitly tries to write for an as big as possible audience: aside from the length, he doesn’t ask a lot of his readers, it’s all easy peasy.
The final quibble I had with the book is the language. It’s not bad and it does its job, but it’s stale and bland and dull. In over thousand pages, I didn’t come across one sentence or image that struck me as interesting. That’s a real shame for any book, since its artistic medium are words: The Way of Kings would translate easily into a movie, without losing anything. Also, the curse words and related expressions (“Storm you!”) are just plain silly, and they even put a small dent in my suspension of disbelief every “storming” time.
I’m eager to continue with the second book, and I guess the best is yet to come. Since The Stormlight Archive is going to be 10 books, and the story only really takes off in the final 200 pages of this first book, judging by that curve, the final couple of books should be as epic as epic can be. The Way of Kings is entertaining and solid, and as such definitely recommended.
originally written on the 7th of July, 2015