Another thing I did while I was in Utah last month was go see Brandon Sanderson at the midnight release party for The Towers of Midnight (which is book 13 in The Wheel of Time series). Fortunately, the BYU Bookstore has set up a new system, which seems to be working, so that one no longer has to spend all day standing in line in order to get a low-numbered book. Still, one has to go pretty early in the morning for at least a few hours if one wants a book numbered below 50, which this one did. Then there's waiting in line the two hours or so before midnight, when things can get a little tedious. (And here I have to say that the "party" part of "midnight release party" is getting less and less party-like every time I go.) So I thought it would be a good idea to take along a book to read to help me through the tedious bits.
I almost took book 4 of The Wheel of Time - The Shadow Rising - but when I gave it a second thought, the idea of reading about blabby, whiny characters at 5:00 am just didn't appeal to me. While standing in line early that frosty Monday morning, I talked for a bit to a fellow who had been there since the previous Friday night or something appalling like that (appalling not because it's a silly waste of time to wait three days in line to get a book signed, which I don't think it is, but because living in a tent for three cold days and freezing nights on the concrete in front of a university bookstore sounds dreadful). I told him I was on book 4 in The Wheel of Time and he asked me how I liked it. I said that I did because it's kind of exciting, and I think I'm finally starting to get emotionally invested in at least one of the characters, but that it was sometimes slow going for me because everybody was so whiny and irritating and they complained so much. He said he wished he could tell me it would get better as the books went along and I said oh really? that's too bad. He said yeah but he grew up with the books, having started to read them when he was about 14, so he loved them. I can see that. I can see the attachment that would develop with fictional characters you first became acquainted with during your emotionally formative years. I saw that happen with my own children and the Harry Potter books. I saw that with myself back in the day. When I was a teenager I used to love Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff and thought their relationship was so romantic and so tragic. But I grew up and realized what jerks they were.
Anyway, so I didn't bring The Shadow Rising. Instead I brought a huge, non-Wheel of Time Sanderson tome, The Way of Kings.
It's the first book in a proposed 10-book series, and, having now finished reading it, I can say that this is how you write characters who don't whine. Not only that, but The Way of Kings is such a fun and exciting and sad and intriguing and hopeful book that it might just nudge out Mistborn: The Final Empire as my favorite Sanderson book. In some ways I think it's better than Mistborn. (But I really love the allomantic magic system, and so far nothing has surpassed that for me.) The one thing that I saw as a drawback in The Way of Kings was the multitude - but multitude - of typos in the book.
To be fair to the book, I'm a nitpicky reader as far as spelling errors are concerned. I think it's something genetic, because even when I was a child I was concerned with correct spelling. When I was six years old and my mom used to take my brother and sister and me shoe shopping at the beginning of the school year, I would look at the kids' shoes and I would think to myself, "Keds Shoes? Keds?? Don't they know it's spelled 'Kids'?"
I was wrong, of course, because I didn't make the connection that Keds was a brand name, but my point is I have been concerned with correct spelling since about as far back as I've known what spelling is. I realize some people think it's silly and petty to point out (and maybe sometimes even mock) misplaced apostrophes in grocers' advertisements or misspelled words in garage sale or missing pet signs and stuff like that, but I think if you're going to put your written language into a public forum, it then becomes subject to the same scrutiny as any other behavior in the public forum, and I believe we should all be on our best behavior, spelling-related or otherwise, in public. Unless you're in your car and you're stuck behind a slow driver.
So I was rather concerned with the quantity of typos in The Way of Kings. I bet there were over a hundred; sometimes there were three or four on a page. Granted, the book is monstrous long. But I've read other long books, like Connie Willis' Blackout and All Clear, and Robert V S Redick's books, and others, and those had very few, if any, typos.
I wonder if it's Brandon Sanderson's responsibility, or if it's Tor's (the publisher). I noticed quite a few typos (not as many as in The Way of Kings, though) in Servant of a Dark God, another of my favorite fantasy novels, and that book was also published by Tor. I know there are brilliant people in the world who are not good spellers (my brother is one of them), but there are also such things as proofreaders in the world. You'd think a publishing company could make sure one of their most popular authors had access to a good proofreader. Well, I don't know why it happens or where or with how many people the responsibility lies, but I think it's a reason for something to be done differently, proofreading-wise, in the future.
At any rate, in the end, the typo issue did not affect (much) my overall enjoyment of the book, and I hereby highly recommend The Way of Kings. It's nice to get in on the start of an epic series, especially one so very worth reading. I don't know if I'll ever get to the Brandon Sanderson books in The Wheel of Time series, but there's so much more to this author that his own books deserve just as wide an audience.
PS If you find any typos in this post, please feel free to keep that information to yourself.