It's been said that if you're going to read this series, this is the book you should start with, which does nothing to endear Brandon Sanderson to me. The cast of characters is enormous, the back story is a few hundred millenia long, and there are four different story arcs. Most of the characters are different between the two books, but you still learn enough in the first book to help you through the second. I can't imagine jumping in with book II, and if you're reading this review, I strongly recommend you
This is E
antasy, with great big capitals. It's no easy outing, and you may want to keep notes (remember there's a - too small - glossary at the back), but it's well worth the difficulty when you get through it.