Heir to the Throne

Brandon Sanderson is one of the strongest new voices in fantasy. He has written several novels set in his own worlds before starting his newest series, a ten volume epic fantasy. Tor books is gambling that it will be a hot seller for years to come. Sanderson is also currently finishing off Robert Jordon's Wheel of Time series. Honestly, I think Sanderson is the better author and suspect the last few books of the Wheel of Time may be the best because of him. His biggest strength is his careful and detailed world-building.  

Sanderson's newest book The Way of Kings is the first in a planned ten volume series and clocks in at a mere 1001 pages. The tome is illustrated: one of the characters is an artist so the pictures are "her" sketches of the world. This is a big help as the world is very different from ours and the pictures show some of the oddities. The world is subject to terrible scouring storms that blow everything down to the rock. Plants and animals burrow into the ground or have shells to protect them. A person trapped outside with no shelter is probably dead. The magic system is based on infused gemstones powered by these terrible storms. 

Long ago, to the point it has become mostly legend, there was an order of powerful Knights protecting the world from something (this is book 1 of 10 after all, we don't get to know much yet). All that remains of them are their suits of Shard plate and their Shard blades. Either of these will turn a regular man into a terrifying force on the battlefield. A man who owns both objects is nearly unstoppable and wars are fought over them. Don't let the length of the book scare you off. It flows well and moves quickly. One tenth of the way into the series and I'm really looking forward to the next book. I'm even happier that Sanderson writes quickly and gets his books out in a timely and regular manner. I will be surprised if book two isn't out a year from now.

Sanderson's other books include Elantris, where the gods have lost all their powers, the Mistborn trilogy where a thousand years ago the Evil Overlord won and Warbreaker, where each person has a "breath" of power and the more you collect the more powerful you are (and the poor souls that sell their breath out of desperation are doomed to a drab life, dulled by the lack). They're all good. He's also writing a children's series, Alcatraz, meant for about 9-12 years old.  I read the first book in the series and it was a fun little read even for an adult reader.