Brandon Sanderson, one of my favorite authors, has begun an epic series. The Way of Kings is the first in this series, and it is a great beginning. After reading it my first response was "wow" and my second response was "dang, now I have to wait for him to finish writing the series."
This series has a unique magic system. I have noticed an interesting trend in Brandon Sanderson's magic systems-he tends to use natural phenomena to enhance, control or create magic. It works because he not only seems to have an unlimited supply of ideas on how to do this, but it also makes sense. We, the readers, can wrap our minds around the fact that such-and-such natural phenomenon leads to such-and-such magical result.
In this new series, the magic is an integral part of the story. However, the people and their motives, relationships, and dilemmas are what make the story really great. As a reader, I came to care about the people in this book. I felt their pain, and hoped their hopes.
The great thing about an epic fantasy is that you get to follow the characters and story line over the course of a long time. Ideas are fully explored and developed. The down side to this is that it takes time. Questions are often unanswered from book to book, and the wait between books can be excruciating. I just want to be clear that this isn't a one-tome book. It is the awesome beginning of what promises to be a great series. Now we just have to wait for the rest of the books.