My first acquaintance with Brandon Sanderson came from the final three books of The Wheel of Time. Robert Jordan passed away before finishing the series, and Sanderson was the one to pick it up and see it to completion. He did a fine job. Although not perfect, he matched Jordan's storytelling style well-enough that the series got a proper finish.
Beyond that, I've listened to his 2012 and 2013 lectures from BYU, which are all available on youtube. They're a fantastic resource for any aspiring author.
So, having become familiar with Sanderson in the above ways, I decided to finally try one of his original books. Way of Kings was the first one I saw on the Barnes & Noble shelf, and I'd heard good things about it, so home with me it came.
A friend of mine described it to me like this: "Somewhere in that 1,000 page behemoth is a fantastic 800 page book." After the three months I took to finish it, I'd have to agree.
First of all, the book is great. The characters are real, and the world Sanderson has created is incredibly rich. The book is filled with illustrations of various flora and fauna from Roshar. The story is enjoyable, with several great twists, and a satisfying climax. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone.
My only complaint is that Sanderson does too much. Although the prelude and prologues (yes, it has both!) were exciting, after that I didn't find myself engrossed in the book for 150+ pages. Sanderson spends a lot of time--too much--worldbuilding, describing spren and plants and every manner of creature. It sets the scene nicely, but it's quite a large primer to sift through before getting to the core story. I'm a patient reader, so I continued on, but I can see why many have put the book down and never picked it back up again.
Scattered throughout the book were several "interludes" as well, chapters which (by definition) have nothing to do with the storyline and appear to exist solely for Sanderson to showcase the world. Although the writing is still fine and the short stories entertaining, they were a distraction I could have done without.
The ending to the book is also far longer than it ought to be. The climax is complete by page 920, but there are another 80 pages that are mostly set-up for the next book. That's fine, as I've already purchased Words of Radiance and will be diving into it soon, but it felt out of place and anti-climactic, far beyond what's typically acceptable.
But lest I complain too much, let me reiterate that Way of Kings is a fantastic book. It's obvious this is one of the works Sanderson has spent the most time creating, which he admits himself in the foreword of the book. Most of the world-building pays off, creating a depth that far surpasses anything Tolkien, Jordan, or any other fantasy giant has ever written.
If you're a fan of the genre you need to read this book.