Book Review: Warbreaker

“Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson is another well-crafted piece of fantasy literature. It tells the story of two kingdoms: Idris and Hallandren. Although in the beginning of the story, the two kingdoms are not at war with each other, tensions are still high and close to the breaking point from the get-go. The bulk of the story takes place in the capitol of Hallandren, a city by the name of T’Telir. There are four main characters in the book: Siri, Vivenna, Vasher, and Lightsong.

 

Siri and Vivenna are both princesses of the kingdom of Idris; one is sent to be the bride of the Hallandren God King, the other sneaks away to cause mischief in T’Telir. Lightsong is a “god” living amongst the other divinities that rule T’Telir from their grand court. Vasher is, well, Vasher. He’s something of a rogue agent with his own plans and abilities. He carries the deadly sword Nightblood, which is another character in its own right, as the sword is sentient. The story is an intriguing mix of politics, mercenary mischief, and treachery. Again, Brandon Sanderson has devised a clever magic system which he incorporates throughout the story. The system is based on Breath and color. Yep, color. The Breath comes from people: us mere mortals are born with but one Breath. Breath can be bought and sold, as one wishes. The Breath is used primarily to animate things—non-living material can move and act according to the wishes of the individual using the Breath. Color is used to power the Breath, draining away to grey when it is expended. It’s an intriguing, and creative system that Brandon Sanderson gets a lot of mileage out of in this book. He uses it in a number of ways that would not be apparent at first.

 

Overall, the book was decent. It took me a while to really get into it, but I wouldn’t say it was boring by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe the beginning was slow, but that could have just as well been a result of adapting to the unusual magic system. It picks up nicely at the end. There are a number of clever twists and turns (although I did pick out one of them in advance—ha ha J). I did have a problem with the ending though. There were basically two story-threads going. One resolved nicely with a big climactic sword fight. The other… not so much. It built up nicely, but then almost skipped over the part I really wanted to read about, describing it only in passing. Anyway, the story formed a complete logical whole; I didn’t notice any loose ends worth mentioning at the end of the book; everything was wrapped up nicely.

 

Overall, I’ll give this book three and a half stars, or even four on a good day.

 

This review was originally posted on Goodreads on 9-4-12.

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