It’s no secret that Brandon Sanderson is a master of his craft, and The Stormlight Archive is his magnum opus. At first glance, the books are intimidating — with each one a 1000+ page brick. But don’t let that stop you. You’d be missing out on a fantasy series that rivals, and in many ways surpasses, A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones).
When I started to read the first book in the series, The Way of Kings, I was immediately turned off. The book begins with a prologue that in all honesty has no business being there. Half the words are made up, you have no idea what’s going on, and it doesn’t give you any information you don’t learn later on. I think including it was a huge misstep. Luckily, the book really picks up after that. The book focuses on several different characters, though it mostly spends time on three: Kaladin, a lowly former soldier, Dalinar, the king’s uncle, and Shallan, a girl from a lower, unimportant house. There’s politics, action, magic (with clearly defined rules), deception, everything a fan of fantasy could want. Not everyone’s story is as interesting as you’d like, but there’s something there for everyone. (And Shallan’s story, which is arguably the most boring, really picks up toward the end of the book, and she’s given the most interesting story in the next one.)
What makes this book stand out compared to the other fantasy books out there is the world. Sanderson builds a world unlike anything I’ve ever read. This isn’t a world inspired by Tolkin (and that in and of itself is a rarity in the fantasy genre). The inhabitants, the societal norms, religions, money, animals, even plants and physics, all of it seems utterly alien and original. And yet (with the exception of the prologue) it is never unfolded too slow or too fast. You can’t help but become enamored with the world he created.
In short, The Way of Kings is not only an immensely entertaining book, but one of the most creative fantasy books I’ve ever read. If you like fantasy, check it out. Just be prepared to carve out a ridicules amount of time to finish each book, and then wait years for the next one. (Maybe the Song of Ice and Fire comparison is more accurate than I realized.)