Book Review – “A Dance with Dragons” by George R. R. Martin

A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in George R. R. Martin’s epic “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, was released in July.  Why, then, am I only now writing this review?

Compared to Martin’s six year hiatus between books, a four month hiatus to write a review doesn’t seem so bad.

I kid, I kid.  In all seriousness, I needed some time to mull this book over before I committed my thoughts to the page.  “A Song of Ice and Fire” is being hailed by critics and fans alike as the best fantasy series in a generation.  Indeed, some go so far as to dub Martin “The American Tolkien.”  HBO’s adaptation of the first book of the series, “A Game of Thrones,” is winning accolades left and right and bringing a horde of new fans to the long-running series.  But does this latest installment live up to the hype?

Book Review: “The Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson

Culture Shock

If you’re a fan of fantasy novels, you get used to seeing the same ideas used over and over again.  The hero rising from humble origins, dragons, castles, dark evils and magical swords, etc…  After awhile, these tropes just start to feel natural, and instead of being annoyed when you see yet another farmboy begin on his hero’s quest, you look forward to how the author will spin the same old story and make it interesting.  Then, you read a book like The Way of Kings, and remember what made you fall in love with the genre to begin with.

Sanderson is gaining renown in the fantasy genre lately, partly because of his work to finish Robert Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series, but also for his Mistborn series and stand-alone novels Elantris & Warbreaker.  Each of his worlds is unique and well-written, but The Way of Kings really ups the ante.

In Roshar, horrific storms sweep the land every few weeks, so the landscape has evolved to survive them.  Grass retracts into the ground when endangered (even when that danger is something as small as a lady about to trod upon it).  Most forms of wildlife have developed a chitinous outer shell and look more like large bugs than dogs or oxen.  Tiny creatures resembling globes of light are drawn to elements (fire, water, etc…) but also to things like pain, fear, and glory, giving visual indicators to emotion.

Read on the full review!