Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
Gollancz, 652 pages
Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn’t like his job, and the immortal who’s still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.
Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.
By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.
I’ve heard so many good things about Brandon Sanderson, but he was never really in one of my authors to-read-soon list. I have friends who are fans, but I never really saw enough reason to read him because…well, I’m not as much as a fantasy reader as my other friends are. Aaron gave me a copy of Warbreaker for my birthday, which I really appreciated for the very cool cover, but you know, I had no intention of reading it anytime soon. I know, I know — why wait, right? I don’t know really. But anyway, certain circumstances got me reading this book earlier than I expected to make up for some things that we don’t really have to talk about here. :P
Warbreaker is a story of two sisters. And a god. And another god. And a mysterious guy. Siri is the youngest princess in Idris who avoids responsibility but finds herself in the middle of one when she was sent instead of her sister Vivenna to marry the God King Susebron from Hallandren as part of a deal to save Idris from war. Vivenna sets off after her and finds conspiracies that shocked her sheltered world, and tries to start a rebellion even if she had no idea what she was doing. On the side, there’s Lightsong, the god of bravery who refuses to act like a god and believes that he really shouldn’t be one. And finally, there’s Vasher, a mysterious and powerful person whose real intentions remain a mystery until the end. These characters move in a world where people who die a heroic death get resurrected as gods to be worshiped by the people, where magic can be drawn from colors by use of a breath that can be harvested from a person one at a time.
It sounds absolutely fantastic, right? By fantastic, I mean, you know, fantasy. The world building in Warbreaker is solid. I was truly interested in how Sanderson’s world worked in Warbreaker, especially with colors and breaths. I thought it was cool thing to use for magic — everyday colors from surroundings can be used to make things move for you. I liked how it was tied with Breath, and how it was used and passed on and all that. I also liked the little intricacies, such as how members of the royal family has hair that changes color based on their emotions — the vain part of me liked this, although this meant that I can’t rely on my poker face for long. :P
I really liked how the characters were written too. I was rooting for Siri from the start, since she was more of my type of princess, but then Vivenna rose up and she made me love her, too. I liked Lightsong’s quips and Susebron’s personality (one of the surprising things) and Vasher’s mysterious vibe. Even the secondary characters were fun, especially the mercenaries that Vivenna worked with. I didn’t know who to root for, really, except for the five main characters, but I didn’t know exactly how they would all tie to each other until the major revelations in the end.
Warbreaker is not just a fantasy novel — it’s also a political one, dealing with how kingdoms work, threats of war and ulterior motives. I liked reading about these things, too, but I have to admit that it got a bit dragging at some point in the novel. I felt like it took a while before the action really happened, and it was probably why I lagged behind in reading this. If I wasn’t so invested in it already, I probably would’ve skipped some parts. It could have been shorter, I guess, or some parts of it could have been used to explain some of the lacking parts in the end. Warbreaker is meant to be standalone at first, I think, but the explanations at the end felt a bit rushed and lacking to really make sense of the history and the whereabouts of all the other characters.The ending wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger, but I thought the story begs for a sequel to answer all the questions left at the end.
Despite all that, I enjoyed reading Warbreaker. It’s a very cool fantasy novel that even someone who’s not really a fantasy reader enjoyed, so that’s saying something. I liked my first Brandon Sanderson book, and while he’s not quite in my to-read-soon and to-acquire-all author just yet, I will definitely read his other books. Soon. (Mistborn, anyone?)
My copy: UK edition, birthday gift from Aaron
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