Finally finished the Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. It's 1000 pages. Let me state that this monstrous tome has received near universal praise was sources/critics/blogs that I highly regard. But it's 1000 pages, and really, it's 500 pages too long.
The Way of Kings got off to such a slow start that I honestly wondered if I read the same book as the reviewers. Then I had to remind myself how much I enjoyed Sanderson's other books. Elantris got off to a slow start, too, and he turned it around. Same with Warbreaker. I believed in the author, dammit!
That was at page 125. Getting to page 400 was like pulling teeth. The opening chapter was action pack and exicting. Then a mysterious chapter with characters we never see again. Then a chapter with the standard Sanderson plucky young heroine. She vanished for 300 pages. 300! Then the novel mixes chapters of the past and present for the central character, the ex-soldier/slave. The another new central character, the aging warlord figure. And in between the chapter are "interludes" with random characters never to be seen again. I imagine these are to give a "flavor" for the world.
All the while all this (wild hand gesturing) is happening, I'm hard press to actually describe what happened in the plot. Three central characters, too much exposition and finally, finally, things start to get interesting around page 600.
The Way of Kings ends strong. Sanderson does not disappoint but, man, it was struggle to get there.
I got to say, if I didn't have faith in the author, I would have put the book aside and not thought twice of abandoning it. This is, simply, not a good introduction to Sanderson's work. A lot of the other reviews focus on the elaborate world building Sanderson does in the narrative: the detail, the thoughtfulness. I agree. He's put a lot of thought and time and effort into creating an entirely unique world. However, the world building obstructs the actual story. World building supports the story. Let's not have world building for the sake of world building.
Overall, a fine book with a slow start and a strong finish. Sanderson needs a good editor, however; someone not afraid to tell time to get on with it and stop unnecessary exposition.