I had the great fortune of reading Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings before its official release. I've had my copy for a little less than two months now, and it looks like it's been hit by a car. Or two. At least that's how it looked the last time I got a glimpse of it.
See, it's gone through many pairs of hands already. It's currently being devoured by its seventh set of eyeballs. And everyone who has read it so far has concurred that it's amazing, even calling it Sanderson's best so far. Another friend said it makes him dismiss any dream of being a writer, because the bar is now set too high. (Thanks a LOT, Mr. Sanderson.) (No, really, thank you. He probably would've made a terrible writer, and I would have to read his stuff and critique it.)
I'm not really a fantasy geek. I've read very little fantasy outside of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But Brandon Sanderson sucks me in -- I love the universes we explore, the characters we meet, the twists that broadside me when I least expect them. (After reading Mistborn, I was afraid to pick up anything else he'd written, for fear it would disappoint. Nonetheless, I read Elantris next, and loved it.)
The Way of Kings is no different. There are so many moments that I loved -- from disasters to triumphs, from profanity-worthy shocks to a few creepy scares. The last still give me the shivers when I think about them.
If literature is food, then most of what I read is dessert - "Mm, yummy" -- whereas The Way of Kings is an exquisite seven-course meal. It kept delivering, page after page. The biggest downside, and I mean this sincerely, is that I now have to wait for the next book. WRITE FASTER, BRANDON.
But there's something exciting about being there at the birth of something great. I was too young to remember the release of Star Wars, but I do recall the delighted anticipation as its sequels approached. Having read The Way of Kings, I can say with certainty that it is the next great fiction series -- and not just for fantasy-lovers. Though you may well be a fantasy-lover when you finish reading it.
As for me, I need to buy a new copy, because my other copy is thrashed.