The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson
  1. It had been a long time since I'd indulged in a nice long fantasy book just for pleasure--a long time since I'd been able to focus on a long book--so it says a lot this held me. I'd heard that Sanderson was completing the Wheel of Time series. I never got through the first book of that series, which was notable to me as a clunky written Lord of the Rings wannabe with an even slighter female presence. 
  2. Sanderson, if not a lyrical, outstanding writer, is at the very least readable in style. He has important female characters--complex ones--that strike me as real people. And his world-building is first-rate. The world he's created doesn't feel like the usual medieval high fantasy. Actually, for me it has distinctive science-fiction overtones. The underlying explanation could just as well be (and maybe turn out to be) science rather than magic. In that way it reminds me a  bit of Pullman--not that it's really comparable or sophisticated in its science, but this kind of feel is rare among the fantasies I've read.
  3. In another way it reminds me of Game of Thrones, because of the way Sanderson rotates among characters, weaving the narratives into a greater whole and building suspense as our attention is diverted away. He's not as cruel to his characters as GRR Martin though--at least not yet. And not as deeply moving--which is why I deny it a fifth star.  But I care about Kaladin, Dalinar, and Shaman and want to read the next book in the series--so a solid four star at the very least.