OMG. I just found out that the Stormlight Archive, the series that Way of Kings is a part of is supposed to be 10 books long. There is not enough time in the world.
Anyway. I'm sure there was a plot. Maybe we'll discover it in book 5 or something. There sure as a hell are a lot of fucking characters though - all doing random stuff (which I'm sure will also be relevant by book 5). The main one is Kaladin who is a surgeon apprentice turned solider, turned slave, turned hero. He's also got some sort of super power like the Radiants (old mythical super heroes in the book) which he spends an awful long time finding out about.
But we know the Desolation is coming because it is mentioned a lot by characters who are figuring this all out while everyone else is an idiot. Hooray.
But you know what most of the book is made up of? About the same 3 things happening for about 550 pages.
Shallon is trying to steal something from Jasnah. There's lots of studying, talking to Kasbal and sketching. Lots of drawing and feeling guilty.
Kaladin and the bridge crew doing bridgeruns ALL THE FUCKING TIME. I swear, Kaladin being a miserable git is about 50% of this book.
Dalinar having visions and arguing with either the King, his son or another high prince.
Eventually it culminates in Kaladin saving Dalinar and Jasnah and Shallon teaming up (despite the fact that Shallon did actually sort of betray Jasnah's trust or whatever).
Reluctantly, I think it passes the test as clearly Shallon, Jasnah and the King's mother are going to be/are main characters. They're also quite powerful and interesting.
There's an interesting inversion of some of the roles - women in this world are the people who read, make things and are scholars. However, there's still a massive gender role thing happening (and clearly some sort of purity thing as women cover their 'safe' hand) which bothered the fuck out of me. Because, of course, the masculine pursuits are things like war. There didn't seem to be many others.
It seemed unlikely, is all I'm saying, that women would have so much power and yet have to have some sort of weird clothing thing going on. I think I see what the author was trying to do but it just comes out all weird.
Maybe it'll all come out in book 5, I hear you say, well fuck all the other books. One was more than enough. Because honestly, most of the book is about the men. With a side adventure with Shallon and Jasnah (who are both women). And oh my god, so much stuff about bridge running. It was like the same chapter over and over and over again. It was sooooo boring.
The last 100 pages were interesting because something fucking happened finally. Which is a pity because some of the ideas are kind of cool, the sprens (like basically there's little ethereal beings that appear visibly when people are scared or dying or when it's raining or something), the shard armour and swords and soulcasting (read: magic).
However, there were aspects that I hated. The aforementioned gender roles being one but also the ridiculous infighting of all the nobility. Finally, the stupid disparity of having slavery or such a weird hierarchy based on eye colour. Altogether, it made Kaladin's struggle, well, somewhat unbelievable. And given that he's most of the story, it falls apart when you are annoyed with the fundamental world building.
Anyway, there's no fucking way I'd read 10 books of this story. I don't especially like any of the characters (or find them or the world believable). I wish fantasy didn't rely on such boring fucking conventions like slavery, gender roles and some dude having to struggle through what in the end is unbelievable story.
Maybe 2/5 stars because at least ash didn't rain from the fucking sky (like in Final Empire) and there was no rape. That's such a depressingly low bar.