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The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

Second paragraph of third chapter:
But expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.
Apart from the sampler submitted as part of this year’s Hugo packet, I think the only works by Sanderson that I had previously read were his Hugo-winning novella The Emperor’s Soul, which I voted for back in the day, and his Hugo-finalist novella Perfect State, which I didn’t vote for. His various overlapping series caused me a lot of head-scratching last year as Hugo administrator; judging by ownership on LibraryThing and Goodreads, which may of course reflect the heavy marketing push it was given by Tor back in 2010 when it first came out, the Stormlight Archive (of which this is the first volume) must be a front-runner for this evening’s award for Best Series (though my own vote is with Bujold).

The Way of Kings clocks in at 1007 pages in hard copy, which makes it the third longest book I have read so far this year (after Gone With the Wind and Islandia). It’s a decent epic fantasy, with three main characters - royal prince, disgraced but talented soldier, young woman who is deciding between theft and scholarship - in a world where humans battle non-humans atop very peculiar geology, with magic oozing from the pores of a lucky (or unlucky) few. The detail is good and the conclusion dramatic, with matters well set up for the next volume, but it’s a very long journey to get there, and it hasn’t changed my mind about my vote. If you didn’t already get it from the Hugo packet, Gollancz have actually published it in two volumes, which you can get here and here.

This was the top sf book in my unread pile. Next is the second in the series, Words of Radiance.

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