Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before destination.
THE WAY OF KINGS, by Brandon Sanderson, gave me almost everything I wanted. The one other thing it could have given me was about 5,000 more pages to finish the story so I don't have to wait for Brandon Sanderson to write the rest of the series.
I'm not going to give a summary. You can find that anywhere else. I'm going to tell you that for a 1000 page novel the pacing was exquisite. I was never bored. I never wanted to skip chapters (though I often had the urge to look ahead to see what would happen because it was so intense--but I didn't do that). Sanderson kept me on the edge of my seat. There were moments while reading where I was biting my thumb I was so nervous for the characters. I gasped in shock at certain events, incredulous. Never a dull moment in the first volume of the Stormlight Archive.
It's impressive how well Sanderson writes characters. While I have his book Mistborn sitting on my shelf, I haven't actually read it yet (so many books to go through). Seeing how he wrote this book, I can't wait to tackle Mistborn (though, comparatively, it'll be more like a light tap--Mistborn is WAY smaller). It's really easy to care for the characters in this book. And to hate certain ones. If that's not a sign of good writing, I'm not sure what is. I wish Kaladin and Dalinar were real people. Or at least I hope that there are people in the world with honor like theirs. And Szeth...I can't lie. He's my next favorite. I feel for him.
And while certain things are slightly predictable--or at least I guessed at them and was correct--there are many, MANY moments in this book that will take you by surprise. Journey before Destination. The destination is predictable, but the journey will make your jaw drop.
Oh! Also. It's extremely impressive the thought he put into creating this world. There is a LOT going on in this book and Sanderson took the time to figure out HOW a lot of his world was possible and how things worked. That's a lot of backstory and world sketching to do before actually sitting down and writing.
I really hope I don't have to wait too long for the next book in this series, Mr. Sanderson. Please don't torture me.