I don't feel like I owe this book a review--it's traditionally published and already has literally thousands of reviews already--but I have to share.
The Way of Kings is epic fantasy at its most epic. If you don't like 1,200 page novels about utterly fantastical worlds and peoples, you won't like this. It took me a while to get into it because the world was so foreign and I really had to adapt my brain to the way things worked, but oh, it was wonderful. Well, horrible in all the right places, but the book itself was wonderful. It handles some really serious issues and rides on a profound understanding of honor and justice, but I didn't feel preached at. I need to go back and steal a dozen or so quotes for my wall. Really, amazing. And the serious issues I mentioned include classism and a sort of racism, except that it isn't racism, it's eye-colorism. Although the characters do have diverse skin shades, they don't discriminate based upon skin color, but eye color. And to some degree hair color. I admit that I did skim a couple of battle scenes because blow by blow just really isn't my thing, but considering the length of the book, there wasn't much at all to skim. Sometimes long books are so long because the characters go in circles over and over in their minds, but in this case I felt that there was a perfect balance of introspection and motion.
The world is so incredibly original and complex, but it fits together perfectly. No leaps in logic, nothing that doesn't eventually make sense. I whole-heartedly recommend to fantasy lovers, especially those who are looking for substance and diversity.
Language: They have their own curse words, of course, just like they have their own cultures, traditions, laws, religion, and expectations.
Sexual Content: Nope. A 1,200 page book and absolutely no reliance on romance or sex to keep us interested. There are a couple places when bits of romance enhance the story, but it's no kind of crutch and it stays absolutely clean. It's one thing I love about this book. Who would have thought it could be done? I briefly thought about how this could become a TV series, but then I realized that it just wouldn’t work. No incest, no adultery, no rape. Who would watch it? But I'm being sarcastic, because obviously people can live without all that crap or this book wouldn't be so stinking popular in fantasy circles.
Violence: Oh, yeah, people killing, dismembering, dying, cutting up corpses. It's horrible, though surprisingly little time is spent describing gore.
Overall message/theme: It's heavy on important themes, has a complicated plot that's revealed at a satisfyingly careful pace, and still character driven. It's weird, for sure, but still manages to say some serious things. I'm eventually going to have to reread it and take notes so I can discuss it with people. And put the quotes on my wall. I already bought the next book, which is even longer and supposedly better than this one. Both books are at or under $9.99 (though I got this one on sale or free, I don't remember) and for this much excellent reading material, I wouldn't blink an eye at spending the money if you like fantasy.
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