Sometimes you come across a book that is simply magical. I don't just mean that it is about a kind of magic, or even has magic in it. The book just transports you to another world, painting a picture of epic proportions. It shows you the lives of people you really care about. Real people, not the typical fantasy stereotypes.
Brandon Sanderson grabbed my attention with his unconventional Mistborn Trilogy ([b:Mistborn: The Final Empire|68428|Mistborn The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)|Brandon Sanderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1312038619s/68428.jpg|66322], [b:The Well of Ascension|68429|The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2)|Brandon Sanderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1317065088s/68429.jpg|2120474], [b:The Hero of Ages|2767793|The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3)|Brandon Sanderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1312051231s/2767793.jpg|2793516]) and the later fourth Mistborn book, [b:The Alloy of Law|10803121|The Alloy of Law (Mistborn, #4)|Brandon Sanderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1317794101s/10803121.jpg|15035863]. Those I consider pure magic. Because they are original and sketch a world unlike any that I've ever seen. The later Sanderson books were nice too, but not earth shocking. Until this one.
Here he creates another of those beautifully original worlds with a magic system that has never before been used (well, I've never read about it, so it's original to me). He imagines a world racked by devastating storms with a unique ecosystem that has adapted to them. The man can certainly build unique worlds.
The book follows four people. Kaladin, Shallan, Dalinar and Szeth. There are some reviews here on GoodReads that state that the book consists of useless throw-away POV's by people who are only there to tell something about those main characters. And those reviews criticize that. Well, let me tell you something. The only way we perceive people we don't know personally *is* through the eyes of others. I think this construct is brilliant. You don't have to connect to those POV's (but I certainly did) as long as you keep an eye on the real story.
I'm used to studying history. Large spans of centuries, connecting dynasties and families, seeing patterns, flows and consequences of the actions of individuals. Epic stories. And that is what mr. Sanderson recreates within this book (on a smaller scale). Not the pre-cooked pre-cut easy to swallow cartboard fantasy that rules the current market. You actually have to think and feel in this book. So I think it is not for everyone.
This is no cookie-cutter fantasy, it's epic and intricate (okay, is still far from [a:Steven Erikson|31232|Steven Erikson|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1219169436p2/31232.jpg], but that makes it a faster and more relaxed read). Totally my cup of tea.
This story is about Kaladin, mostly. He has the largest part in it, Szeth the smallest. Szeth's actions help bring Kaladin get where he is in most of the story, Shallan (and through her Jasna) provides back-story to the conflict, Dalinar gives us insight in the history and the legends, and the concept of honor. And ultimately he shows us what Kaladin's fate/destiny might be. That's the gist of the book.
I like how Sanderson feeds us Kaladin's backstory through sparsely dished out flashbacks throughout the book and how he tells the most important part (about his brother Tiam) only near the end of the book. By then we have pieced most of the story together for ourselves, which gives us a lovely sense of dramatic irony.
I like the appearance of Hoyt (sp?) in all of his books, and the book-spanning idea of the Cosmere. Something like that connects all his books, even though they are all on different worlds. Hoyt reminds me of Fizban ;-)
Michael Kramer and Kate Reading do a good job on the narration. It is a bit confusing to hear them narrate both this book, and the Mistborn Trilogy (Kramer) and the WOT books. Perhaps I shouldn't read those book at the same time ;-)
There is not much I can say about the plot without spoiling, but let me tell you, it's even more terrific with the first re-read.
There are not many books I grant five stars out of five. This one absolutely deserves it.