Currently I'm a librarian and before that I was an archaeologist, a journalist, and definitely a bit of a world traveler. I tend to mostly read science fiction and fantasy, though I do love a good mystery and I'm a bit of a book dabbler overall. I've been doing Goodreads for awhile, but a friend thought I might enjoy this as well. Let's see, yeah?
This was a good epic fantasy novel that is based on the interesting premise of what happens if the chosen person of prophecy doens't make the right decisions and save the world? Apparently a thousand years ago the chosen hero went to defeat great evil and after that was done he set himself up as a god and created a cruel dictatorship to keep the world at peace. In the current day, a group of thieves, con-artists, and rebels set out on a great caper to topple the empire and win riches.
Despite the intriguing back story, in many ways the story feels very standard for epic fantasy. This isn't to say that the story is bad -- it's not at all. It's gripping and the characters are a whole lot of fun. Some of them skirt the edge of being The Unique and Wonderful One Who Is Perfect And Should Be Adored By All character that so many books end up with, but none of the characters stay in that territory long enough to become irritating.
The history and politics of the land are a strong element of the story, as is the magic system. It's a pleasure to learn how it works alongside the diamond-in-the-rough street urchin discovered and tutored by one of the main protagonists. That same urchin provides the most interesting viewpoint -- both because it's through her eyes that we learn how everything works and because she has an intelligent and mistrustful viewpoint, as well as a strong character arc with a lot of growth.
Some of her growth is, perhaps, a little too easy, but it's very forgivable because the writing pulls us along so well. Besides, the themes have much more to do with learning what friends and family are, rather than needing to protect yourself.
One of Sanderson's great skills in this book is writing the action scenes. It would be very easy to write confusing or silly fight or flight sequences -- especially with all the magic use -- but he keeps it egde of your seat and, well, educational about how magic works. He also keeps a good level of tension going with his characters -- though, honestly, part of that for me may have a lot to do with not knowing if he's a George R. R. Martin style fantasist of not. It's definitely difficuly to know, during your first foray with an a fantasy author, if characters are safe or not. I did think certain characters were obviously in line for death, however, though I didn't necessarily turn out to be correct (which is usually nice).
I am certainly looking forward to what clever things he comes up with in the next book!