Ever heard of Tony Mandarich? He was a football player back in the ’90s –hold up!! Let’s pump the brakes. This is, after all, a review of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, the first novel in the Stormlight Archive which seems to be getting all of the praise as “The Next Big Thing”. First off, it’s huge, a thousand pages huge, the first book in a prophesied 10-book series huge. And, in case you’re wondering what I thought, it’s great.
See, all fiction books come down to three essential things: Characters, Plot, and Setting (and I would argue Theme, although it isn’t always a requirement, sadly). You need compelling characters to care about, so that when good and/or bad things happen you have someone to care about. Characters are the point of the story. The plot is any motivations to spur the characters into action. The setting is also important because it helps form our frame of reference and the context of the story.
The Way of Kings has all of them turned all the way up. Even theme.