Evan Leach's Reviews > The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
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it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy, 2010-2019, novels, american-literature, doorstoppers, epic

When I was a kid, I was never able to get the best of those damned Magic Eye paintings. I would stare and stare until my eyes watered, but to no avail.

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  All I see is an OK fantasy novel.


Well, looking at The Way of Kings and its glittering, 4.58 rating is bringing back some painful childhood memories that I’ve tried really hard to repress. Because like those stupid paintings, I just can’t see what all the fuss is about. To be clear, I didn’t hate this book: I thought it was sort of O.K. But this is so out of proportion with what everybody else seems to think that I can’t help but feel out of the loop. It’s Mrs. Betzler’s 4th grade class all over again, so thanks for that Brandon Sanderson. I had three big problems with this book:

1. A lot of the action/fighting scenes were pretty tedious. Not once in the book did I feel that any of the main characters were in any serious risk, which sucked away a lot of the dramatic tension. Also, many of characters were so much better equipped/more skilled/blessed with more über magic than their hapless opponents that the battles were just page after page (after page) of the superman characters slaughtering hordes of luckless opponents. At times it felt like I was reading the transcript of somebody playing a video game. A 1,000 page transcript.

2. While Sanderson lays some good bricks here in terms of world-building, I never really got hooked by the history of this universe he created, and I didn’t get a great feel for what the world at large was really like (with the exception of a few locations like the Shattered Plains, etc.). That would be one thing if the book was 300 pages, or if it threw us straight into the action, but a book this size where the action is limited had better be doing some grade-A world-building and I didn’t think Sanderson reached that level.

3. Finally, your mileage may vary but the writing in this book drove me crazy. I haven’t read anything else by Sanderson, so I don’t know if this is just his style or if there was a failure in the editing process, but I found a lot of the dialogue in this book to be exhausting. For instance:

”Brightness…I believe you stray into sarcasm.”

“Funny. I thought I’d run straight into it, screaming at the top of my lungs.”


Ugh. Or this gem when a young lady requests an unusual book from a merchant:

”I can see you are a woman of discriminating taste.”

“I am. I do like my meals prepared very carefully, as my palate is quite delicate.”

“Pardon. I meant that you have discriminating taste in books.”


No. Nonononononono. But I don’t know. If the zingers above made you laugh, or if you like randomly placed exclamation marks in your dialogue, you probably will be just fine. This may just be a matter of personal taste, but the dialogue in this book drove me crazy.

Anyway, I don’t want to overstate my dislike for this book. I thought it was long, kind of sloppily written, and could be pretty boring at times. I very nearly quit at about the 450 page mark, which is a rarity for me. But there are some promising elements here: it’s not a Tolkien clone, at least, and some of the characters are pretty solid. Also, the plot got much more interesting as the book developed, and the second half was markedly better than the first (although that’s almost damning with faint praise), to the point that I’ll probably give the second book a chance whenever it comes out. But I sincerely hope it’s better than this one. 2 stars.


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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 1, 2011 – Finished Reading
February 11, 2012 – Shelved
February 20, 2012 – Shelved as: fantasy
March 28, 2012 – Shelved as: 2010-2019
October 30, 2013 – Shelved as: novels
October 30, 2013 – Shelved as: american-literature
March 21, 2014 – Shelved as: doorstoppers
February 15, 2016 – Shelved as: epic

Comments Showing 1-50 of 126 (126 new)


Ehud Rosenberg The dialog, oh my god, the dialog. These exact parts you quoted were pretty much where I gave up. I also couldn't figure out if Shallan's character simply had a terrible sense of humor, or Sanderson did.


message 2: by Evan (last edited Apr 21, 2012 03:48PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Ehud wrote: "The dialog, oh my god, the dialog. These exact parts you quoted were pretty much where I gave up. I also couldn't figure out if Shallan's character simply had a terrible sense of humor, or Sanderso..."

Glad to hear I'm not alone, Ehud. As JK pointed out in his review (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...), both Wit and Shallan have pretty lame senses of humor, which seems to place the blame on Sanderson.

I've heard people speak glowingly of some of Sanderson's other stuff, so I'll give him another shot at some point. But this was a real slog.


Momentai You gotta love it when a review sums up things better than you. I wasn't sure why I only gave it three stars, but after reading that I can be sure of it now.


Evan Leach Stardrag wrote: "You gotta love it when a review sums up things better than you. I wasn't sure why I only gave it three stars, but after reading that I can be sure of it now."

Thanks, Stardrag. I think you'll have a much better time with Perdido Street Station (I know I did).


message 5: by Evan (new)

Evan I really enjoyed Sanderson's Mistborn series, but I am glad you wrote an appropriate review for this book. Saved me quite a bit of time.


Evan Leach Evan wrote: "I really enjoyed Sanderson's Mistborn series, but I am glad you wrote an appropriate review for this book. Saved me quite a bit of time."

Thanks, Evan. I've heard great things about the Mistborn books and I'm looking forward to giving Sanderson another chance.


Momentai Did you ever get around to reading those Mistborn books?


Evan Leach Stardrag wrote: "Did you ever get around to reading those Mistborn books?"

Not yet...I'm currently working my way through the Wheel of Time series, which should occupy me for a while. This is still the only Sanderson I've read (although if I stick with WoT I'll get back to him eventually).


Jonathan Terrington I think it's all about personal taste with this one for sure as with most fantasy these days. I like this because I like that Sanderson while writing a long book does things differently with fantasy on the whole.


message 10: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Jonathan wrote: "I think it's all about personal taste with this one for sure as with most fantasy these days. I like this because I like that Sanderson while writing a long book does things differently with fantas..."

While this one was a bit of a miss for me, there were definitely elements I liked and I will give book two a shot when it comes out. I've also heard
Mistborn: The Final Empire is excellent, so I need to give Sanderson another shot.


Jonathan Terrington Mistborn is probably the book of his that's easiest to get into. I mean everyone's been rating this book high but Mistborn is the one that most people should be able to dive into easier.


Momentai Jonathan wrote: "Mistborn is probably the book of his that's easiest to get into. I mean everyone's been rating this book high but Mistborn is the one that most people should be able to dive into easier."

And it's what set him up as the "Magic system" guy to. I mean, Elantris had a surprise twist with its magic, but in Mistborn it showed how good he was at making them.


Selinea Short of Lord of the Rings, what fantasy book do you think has better world building than The Way of Kings?


message 14: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Selinea wrote: "Short of Lord of the Rings, what fantasy book do you think has better world building than The Way of Kings?"

Oh, I'm a big fan of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones universe. I also like China Mieville's New Crobuzon (from Perdido Street Station and the two sequels) quite a bit. Margaret Weis' Death Gate Cycle isn't as widely read as those two, but I think the world building in that series is very interesting. Finally, Steven King's All-World from the Dark Tower series is a really cool setting - although a lot of the world-building in that series is kind of left in the shadows.

To me, the world building in this book wasn't bad so much as it felt incomplete. I thought it hinted at some intriguing things, but I never felt that I got to know any areas in depth other than the Shattered Plains and whatever city Shallan spent most of the book in. Those parts of the world were actually very cool - but I guess in a 1,000 page book I wanted a little more.

Anyway, I have some friends that love this book and realize I'm in the minority on it. I'm planning on checking out the second entry in the series, and hopefully it hooks me.


message 15: by Russ (new)

Russ While I didn't finish the book I couldn't agree more with this review. What you say about the dialogue really stood out to me as well and ultimately I couldn't go on after about 300 pages, mainly due to the style of writing. To me, it wasn't just the dialogue that bothered me, it was the general techniques in description that put me over the edge. Like how Sanderson has Shallan "blink her eyes hard" in order to commit an image to memory. That kind of detail should pretty much be left unsaid as far as I'm concerned. It's sort of appalling that so many readers could enjoy this kind of writing let alone put up with it. I obviously couldn't, but to each his own I guess. Also, I agree with you in that George R.R. Martin creates a much more vivid world in A.S.O.I.F. which really draws the reader in to its state and history; that's something Sanderson fails to do in this book. Thanks for the great review!


Momentai "blink her eyes hard"

Lol, I didn't like Shallan so much as what was going on around her.


Tamara God yes. This book's insanely high rating remains one of the enduring mysteries of goodreads - and life - for me.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship I have been thinking about that one. Here are some theories:

1) Self-selection: Sanderson was already very well-known in the fantasy world when he published this book, and the people who read this were disproportionately people who already knew and loved his work, while many people who weren't inclined to like it already knew about Sanderson's limitations.

2) Attrition: It's 1000 pages long! People are less likely to rate stuff they didn't finish.

3) Rabid fanbase: Sanderson does a lot to engage his fans online. Consequently, loyalty builds up and people give 5 stars to everything he writes. Also, people are really excited to have a new epic fantasy series by an incredibly prolific author who meets his deadlines.

4) The cover (more self-selection): Clearly, it's a pulpy and not particularly well-written fantasy for teen boys and teen-boys-at-heart, right? It's definitely a design to appeal to the video game crowd. Teen boys are not exactly known for their discerning taste, and everyone else doesn't bother.

Anyway, that's what I've thought of so far....


message 19: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Russ wrote: "While I didn't finish the book I couldn't agree more with this review. What you say about the dialogue really stood out to me as well and ultimately I couldn't go on after about 300 pages, mainly d..."

Thanks for the kind comments, Russ!


message 20: by Evan (last edited Jan 28, 2013 06:42PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Stardrag wrote: ""blink her eyes hard"

Lol, I didn't like Shallan so much as what was going on around her."


I'm kinda with you Stardrag - I thought some of the things going on around Shallan were pretty cool (particularly that giant library), but I was never able to connect with Shallan.


message 21: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Tamara wrote: "God yes. This book's insanely high rating remains one of the enduring mysteries of goodreads - and life - for me."

Hahaha...yeah. Lots of the people who read the book really love it, which makes me think I owe Sanderson another shot.


message 22: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Emma wrote: "I have been thinking about that one. Here are some theories:

1) Self-selection: Sanderson was already very well-known in the fantasy world when he published this book, and the people who read this..."


All good points, and more lucid than my ravings. I think self-selection + the length of the book probably meant that a lot of the book's readers knew exactly what they were getting into and knew it was what they liked going in, which is just fine.

One thing I've noticed recently that I find interesting is there doesn't seem to be a ton of crossover between Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson fans and fans of George R.R. Martin. While there are some readers who love Wheel of Time/Sanderson and A Game of Thrones, there doesn't seem to be as much overlap as I might have expected...


[redacted by S.H.I.E.L.D.] Aw, I like the cover. And holy mother of poop, the GRRM vs RJ/BS thing explodes on a certain forum every few months or so. I uh, like both. I think that makes me a sinner.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship It makes sense to me that there'd be a division--Martin's work is noticeably more mature than the other two. I never really enjoyed WOT post age 14, but I discovered ASOIAF in college and suspect that if I'd tried it sooner, I wouldn't have been ready for it. (Also, I first heard of ASOIAF through negative reviews of WOT--every third one seemed to say "read Martin instead!" and so eventually I did.)

Re: the cover--I don't actually think it's unattractive. It's well-proportioned and has pretty colors. The design just speaks strongly to a particular aesthetic, which is all about the fantasy elements and not so much the literary ones. I look at that, I see the sort of book that makes sense to talk about in terms of "magic systems"* and that will have badassery and goofy dialogue and not particularly profound characterizations.

* The phrase "magic system" says a lot to me. You wouldn't describe the magic in, say, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell as a "magic system"--or even in a series like ASOIAF, which is still recognizably epic fantasy. Brandon Sanderson and video games, though--all about the magic systems.


message 25: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Emma wrote: "It makes sense to me that there'd be a division--Martin's work is noticeably more mature than the other two. I never really enjoyed WOT post age 14, but I discovered ASOIAF in college and suspect t..."

I need to get off my duff and read Jonathan Strange...


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship Oh, it's excellent, and the total opposite of Sanderson's work (that sounds harsh, I did think Mistborn was fun). Almost as long as Way of Kings though!


message 27: by Jonathan (last edited Jan 28, 2013 09:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jonathan Terrington Evan wrote: "Emma wrote: "I have been thinking about that one. Here are some theories:

1) Self-selection: Sanderson was already very well-known in the fantasy world when he published this book, and the people ..."


Well I for one am a Sanderson fan but not a Martin fan exactly. I find that while Sanderson's stories get cluttered with description at times (the typical fantasy issue) Martin's stories get cluttered with elements I like even less (blood, sex and other gory description). I find Martin a touch sensationalist where I just find Sanderson a touch 'clumsy' at times. To call Martin more mature I find is a matter of perspective. I find his obsession with certain parts of the male and female anatomy a touch adolescent coming from an older gentleman, though his world is certainly 'mature' in the sense that it is gritty and adult. I loved the world building and ideas in this work a lot though.

Also, you do need to read Jonathan Strange :D


Jonathan Terrington I also forgot to mention that yes the characterisation in Sanderson stories lacks at times. I felt he was a lot better in this book than in others, that he'd matured a lot from Mistborn. Moving from entertainment to writing epic stories. I find the characterisation in most modern fantasy lacking still, even Martin's characters - which you put up as another example - lack some human touch. They all tend to seem unbalanced to me. Though perhaps its just the first two novels and in the later books I'll see more balance...


[redacted by S.H.I.E.L.D.] I loved Warbreaker. Still havnt had the energy to start this one.


[redacted by S.H.I.E.L.D.] Also, now that I'm at a real keyboard, from what I've read online this book was written before any of his other published stuff, so that may be why it seems to kind of regress a bit.


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship Jonathan, I don't disagree with you that Martin's work can be a little sensational, and that there's at times a juvenile element to the sex. But I find his characterization much more mature than anything I've seen from Sanderson or Jordan--to me Martin's characters seem very human, and I'm impressed by his ability to make even secondary characters distinctive, which isn't something I've found in Jordan or Sanderson's work. I also think Martin's better at the nuts and bolts of writing, and at utilizing themes.

But what I really mean by the "mature" thing was that Martin's work is very dark, and, well, believably so (he's great at atmosphere and detail). By contrast, there was a scene in one of the Mistborn books that I still remember (4 years later?) because it rang totally false to me, where some guard just up and murdered some random beggar boy. Sanderson hadn't built up a world where I believed in that sort of casual cruelty--his characters felt too safe, or there was too much banter, or something. Instead of affecting me, the scene just felt like this cheap moment where Sanderson was trying to make a point, but fell flat. Martin has no problem with that; his world feels the same way it behaves, if that makes sense. (Jordan is decent at atmosphere too, it's just that he had a hard time sustaining it--or, for that matter, the plot--when the action slowed down.) So overall Martin's world feels real to me, where Sanderson's (in the Mistborn trilogy) felt more like a canvas on which to paint his badassery and banter and such.

Of course, all a matter of taste in the end. Despite being a fan, I've always thought of Martin's books as very "niche," and am actually surprised they have as many fans as they do.


Jonathan Terrington I think, from what I've read in the first book, that Erikson's Gardens of the Moon looks to be a better series. I won't disagree that Martin is better at the nuts and bolts writing because I think he is, having a background in television writing. Still his television writing seems to come through in his work and it slightly irks me. Of the three I find Jordan the weakest in the actual technical side of writing and Martin still the strongest but none of the three are excellent technical writers in my view.

I feel that Martin's world doesn't feel real, yet neither does Sanderson's. But then again, it is fantasy hence it is not exactly meant to feel real. I think that Sanderson's personally feels like the actual world fits its own logic whereas at times I feel that Martin makes up his logic for the world as he goes along. As someone pointed out to me. It's interesting to have a world where its summer in one area and winter in another (or however that works since I didn't grasp it) but how does it work for the people? I'm not saying that Sanderson does not do the same, since I think he does - particularly in regards to characterisation. And I would agree with the argument that Sanderson is not so skilled at writing ambiguous characters. I just feel that Sanderson's worlds are threaded around central logic as best as possible. Again a matter of opinion/taste.


message 33: by Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (last edited Jan 28, 2013 09:58PM) (new)

Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship Er, and as far as the sex thing, I guess I'd say all three men treat it in a kind of juvenile way. Sanderson (again, based on Mistborn) seems afraid to write about it at all, resulting in these weird relationships where people who are supposed to be romantically involved seem more like friends. Jordan's male characters are all in the teenage stage of "I don't understand girls!" (dunno why, all the women in his world are exactly the same so you know, figure out one and you've covered them all) and he's mostly pretty coy about actual sex, but then there's the plethora of weird spanking scenes that are just WTF? So by comparison, Martin seems more mature to me for just writing about sex in a straightforward way, although there are many valid criticisms to be made of his choices (and yeah, he's all about the male gaze--even his female characters notice each other's boobs first thing).


Selinea Evan wrote: "Selinea wrote: "Short of Lord of the Rings, what fantasy book do you think has better world building than The Way of Kings?"

Oh, I'm a big fan of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones universe. I a..."


Thanks! I'm waiting to marathon the TV show and the book series of Game of Thrones, so I'm waiting for when I'll have a lot of free time and concentration. (I'm starting to think there's never going to be a perfect time). I loved Perdido Street Station and I'm definitely going to check out the Death Gate Cycle next time I'm at the library.

From what I know of Game of Thrones...it shouldn't be surprising that there's not that much overlap between fans. Sure they're both high fantasy novels, but they have as many similarities as urban fantasy novels do with paranormal romances. (I just compared Charles de Lint to Kresley Cole, and I'm stunned at how many similarities there are between the two authors, despite the obvious differences. GoT and WoK are the opposite, a lot of superficial similarities but huge differences in substance.)

I like The Way of Kings. I think the settings and characters in WoK are far more vivid and enjoyable than the settings and characters in say, The Sword of Shannara or The Wheel of Time. But Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings is still, in essence, just another version of the standard formula. You have a few main characters who you are 100% confident are going to survive and save the day. Game of Thrones isn't like that at all. It's heavily political, realistic, and chaotic because that's how actual functioning worlds work. I read The Way of Kings in four days and felt thoroughly entertained. It's on my favorites because it had a good magic system and a pretty good religious system. But I can foresee The Song of Ice and Fire as a series I'm going to have to power through two books in one day to fully immerse myself in the chaos and life of the book.

Brandon Sanderson writes likeable characters. I don't know how he does it. If I read a plot synopsis about Kaladin, I'd call him a terrible Gary Stu, and a depressed, whiny main character brat to boot. But for some reason, this book worked and The Name of the Wind didn't. But Game of Thrones doesn't even try to juggle the problem of making an all powerful yet loveable main character. It's more like...all characters are people and they go around doing people things. Of course, some people are more likeable than others, but that's just life. (Again, I haven't read GoT, so I could be way off base. This is based off of like, a two chapter sampler and hearsay)

If you typically like "the epic fantasy formula" as I call it, then definitely give The Stormlight Archives another shot. It's much better than The Wheel of Time, Shannara, The Naming of the Wind, and all the other epic fantasy formula novels floating around.

I've finally got it! It's not that The Way of Kings has bad world building geography, geology, meteorology, or magic wise. The geology and biology of this book is pretty lush, probably one of the best I've ever read. But where the world building fails is society. That's why people like Perdido Street Station and Game of Thrones better. In The Way of Kings, you get this super simplistic notion of social standing. Some archaic, medieval BS about light eyes being noblemen and merchants/skilled people earning their way to middle class and lower class farmers. While Perdido Street Station clearly explores the different strata of society and even explains how they came about.

Emma wrote: "I have been thinking about that one. Here are some theories:

1) Self-selection: Sanderson was already very well-known in the fantasy world when he published this book, and the people who read this..."

While I definitely agree with attrition and self selection probably has a good role too, I kind of resent points 3 and 4. I would say Twilight has (or at least had) a rabid fan base, yet that success hasn't really carried over to The Host, more surprising because from what I've heard, The Host is genuinely a better book than Twilight too. I'd say Kristin Hannah has a lot of dedicated fans, but nobody raves about how good Angel Falls is because it's sub-par to her other books. There'll be die hard rabid fans for just about every author, but that's not a legitimate reason why a book is popular or well rated, because the majority of the readers decide whether they like a book or not outside of simply "being a fan."

And 4. That's even more ridiculous. Hardcore gamers wouldn't bother reading a 1000 page epic. That'd take way too much out of their gaming time. One of my friends has trouble getting her brother to read anything, much less something 1000 pages long. And casual gamers don't look at the cover of their books and go, hey, this sort of reminds me of video games, so let's check out this book. And normally, I don't get worked up about being politically correct, but a lot of girls play video games too. One of the guys on my high school football team was arguing why he liked The Brothers Karamazov was better than Crime and Punishment. And a lot of guys I know are as picky about their books as I am. So could you please not generalize like that?


Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship You got ahead of me! I don't disagree about the worlds either. Sanderson's more into thinking everything out methodically, and Martin just throws in 10-year winters and expects readers to go along with it without asking too many questions. But Martin's a good visual writer and strong on details of how the society works, so his feels more real to me, where Sanderson's worldbuilding is logical and inventive but to me, doesn't really come to life. Yeah, taste....


message 36: by Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship (last edited Jan 28, 2013 10:36PM) (new)

Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship @Selinea: Yep, agree about the society thing. That's pretty much what makes or breaks worldbuilding for me.

Anyway, sorry my point 4 offended you; my point is not about male readers generally but about teenagers. And I'm not arguing that all gamers read fantasy doorstoppers, but there's certainly some overlap (hell, when I was 13, I played video games, and read Jordan, so what does that say about me?). This sort of stylized cover--dramatic terrain in improbable colors, guy with billowing cloak and big sword emitting magic ray, etc.--promises a certain kind of experience, which appeals to a certain kind of reader, who's looking for a fairly unsophisticated bit of fun with magic and swords.

As far as fans--certainly not the only reason, but an author's online interactions with readers seem to matter more and more these days. Sanderson is friendly and incredibly accessible--I don't know of any other author who keeps progress meters on his webpage--and that wins a lot of people over. Sure, that doesn't insulate authors from criticism if the fanbase dislikes their latest work, but it makes people predisposed to like that person's books. I see fans giving 4-star reviews to books that seem to have entirely disappointed them because they love the author/the author's other work so much (don't ask me to explain it, but they do).

EDIT: I guess I should be clear, since that point seems to have bothered you--I'm not claiming author-loyalty is a factor in every 5-star rating, but that it may have helped this book get an absurdly high average (seriously, higher than any book I have ever read).


message 37: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Grack21 wrote: "Aw, I like the cover. And holy mother of poop, the GRRM vs RJ/BS thing explodes on a certain forum every few months or so. I uh, like both. I think that makes me a sinner."

And here I was thinking I'd stumbled across something profound. Count me among those who like the cover...and the phrase "holy mother of poop."


message 38: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Grack21 wrote: "Also, now that I'm at a real keyboard, from what I've read online this book was written before any of his other published stuff, so that may be why it seems to kind of regress a bit."

Interesting, that's the first I've heard of this...


message 39: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Emma wrote: "but then there's the plethora of weird spanking scenes that are just WTF?"

Terry Goodkind, anyone?


Tamara I do like the cover, to be fair - I think it's one of the reasons I picked it up, actually. It seemed to promise something genuinely epic and a bit wild and mad...It does try, it just goes nowhere near living up to any of those ambitions.


Momentai Emma wrote: "It makes sense to me that there'd be a division--Martin's work is noticeably more mature than the other two. I never really enjoyed WOT post age 14, but I discovered ASOIAF in college and suspect t..."

I liked what you said about Magic systems, but I think it depends upon the plot/world of the books. If magic is well known and integrated into society, wouldn't people have rules on how to use it? And as Sanderson shows us, at the same time, it's not completely 100% understood. People in WoK are still trying to expand upon what they can do with Stormlight and shards...and everything else, lol.

In books like "Lord of the Rings" of "Song of Ice and Fire," the author goes for a completely mysterious and alien feel when it does come into play. When they do use it, the story is not so much about using magic constantly, but using it sparingly. If you pulled out random magic out of your butt over and over again, then you'd end up performing a recurring Deus Ex Machina. It's meant to be more wondrous then factual and not everyone accepts magic in Martin's World.

And like Evan, I have to get around to reading Jonathan Strange as well. I've been hearing allot of good things from allot of smart readers these days.


message 42: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Selinea wrote: "Evan wrote: "Selinea wrote: "Short of Lord of the Rings, what fantasy book do you think has better world building than The Way of Kings?"

Oh, I'm a big fan of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones ..."


Thanks for weighing in, Selinea. I saw the first season of HBO's Game of Thrones and thought it was very good. I haven't read the Death Gate Cycle since i was 14 or so, and I wouldn't necessarily put it in the fantasy pantheon, but the world building in that series is really interesting (and definitely worth a read).

It's not that The Way of Kings has bad world building geography, geology, meteorology, or magic wise. The geology and biology of this book is pretty lush, probably one of the best I've ever read. But where the world building fails is society.

This pretty much sums up my feelings exactly. You could tell Sanderson had spent some time on the more scientific elements of his world, but I never bought into the societies he presented. Maybe some dark force coming and tearing those societies down is just what I need. Anyway, I enjoyed reading your thoughts and you've definitely convinced me to give Sanderson another go.


Tamara The Death Gate Cycle is a really good example of the type of worldbuilding I rather want to see more of, where it's really quite wacky and illogical, but also totally alien and symbolic in it's physicality (A world that is a maze and a world that is a tree and a hollow sphere with floating islands and whatever else went on there...) So while Martin's decade-winters don't make any geographic or economic sense, I actually think they're a step in the right direction in terms of things I would like to see more of in fantasy. I find that a more interesting read than a meticulous, logical psuedo-historical fantasy world. About Way of Kings specifically...I think it kind of mixes the worst of both worlds there - it's kind of over the top and it's mundane. It shouldn't be, but all that laboured detail and biology an whatever make it feel like i'm reading geology class notes, and my geology class notes are still cooler, (because you can't beat the five eyed, vacuum cleaner nose-mouth, skeletonless swimming things of the Cambrian anyway.)


[redacted by S.H.I.E.L.D.] Death gate is massivly overlooked.


[redacted by S.H.I.E.L.D.] You know, its not that the fans don't overlap that gets me, its the hatred they seem to have for each other. You'd think with GRRM crediting Jordon's blurb on his cover to his early success with GoT and the fact that they used to hang out at cons together would make people less....vile.


message 46: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Grack21 wrote: "You know, its not that the fans don't overlap that gets me, its the hatred they seem to have for each other. You'd think with GRRM crediting Jordon's blurb on his cover to his early success with Go..."

Well...we can only hope The Winds of Winter is so good it heals all wounds (when it comes out in 2021).


message 47: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Julia wrote: "Thank you for saying everything I was just thinking."

I aim to please, Julia. I see you are tackling this one right now...best of luck.


message 48: by Hess (new) - added it

Hess I had to stop - I think your point on the sloppy editing was spot on...so tedious after a while and yet I see readers who love love it....and I am perplexed.


Momentai Tamara wrote: "The Death Gate Cycle is a really good example of the type of worldbuilding I rather want to see more of, where it's really quite wacky and illogical, but also totally alien and symbolic in it's phy..."

While I did like a lot of things Brandon did with his world, I think that he was sort of holding back. As if he didn't want to unleash too much, too soon, so he ended up with all of this empty space where more fantastical elements could've filled in. But can you be more specific about what was mundane about it? Was it just his writing style or well, everything?


message 50: by Evan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Evan Leach Hess wrote: "I had to stop - I think your point on the sloppy editing was spot on...so tedious after a while and yet I see readers who love love it....and I am perplexed."

Yeah I know plenty of people who loved this book, so clearly it didn't bother everybody. I see you gave the Mistborn books higher marks; I definitely need to give those a shot.


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