“Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson

I read Brandon Sanderson’s “Warbreaker” as part of a groupread hosted by Amanda and Naithin.  For anyone who didn’t participate in the read-along, here’s a brief spoiler-free review:

Princess Vivenna has spent her entire life being prepared to marry Susebron, the God King of the neighboring country of Hallendren.  War between the two kingdoms is imminent, and fearing for Vivenna’s safety, her father sends the younger free-spirited Princess Siri to Hallendren instead.  Siri is not accustomed to being important or significant in any way, yet she finds herself in the middle of dangerous intrigues.  Meanwhile, the prim and proper Vivenna embarks on an adventure to rescue Siri, while at the same time discovering her own personal strengths and challenging previously held convictions.

One of the things that I love about Sanderson is his unique magic systems that always follow certain rules, making them feel like an organic part of the world-building rather than an omnipotent and mysterious source of power.  In “Warbreaker,” power is drawn from Color and Breath.  Every person is born with one Breath, which can be given away.  Accumulating more Breath grants a person increased sensory perception, and if a person has managed to stockpile enough Breath, he or she can animate objects.  The importance of Breath permeates Hallendren culture and religion.

In addition to the two princesses, Sanderson creates a vibrant cast of characters.  My particular favorites are Lightsong, a cynical god who doesn’t believe in his own divinity, and Nightblood, a sentient sarcastic sword bent on destroying evil (but who doesn’t quite understand what the word “evil” means).

Despite some of the interesting concepts in the book, “Warbreaker” was my least favorite Sanderson novel.  It’s not that it isn’t good, it’s just not on the same level as “Elantris,” “Mistborn,” or “The Way of Kings.”  If any other author had written it, I’d have been impressed, but I felt like it didn’t live up to its potential.  The writing lacked the subtleties and depth that I’ve come to expect from Sanderson, and I came away feeling vaguely disappointed.

Categories: Fantasy, Fiction | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on ““Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson

  1. Pingback: July 2012: A Month in Review « Books Without Any Pictures

  2. I need to start reading more of his working. I really liked Mistborn. I agree, his magic is always organic and lovely.

  3. Caleb Flanagan

    The best part about Warbreaker is Lightsong. I agree that of all Sanderson’s books this one falls a little bit behind the others, but at least it’s still a quality read.

    • Lightsong was a fun character, and I love that Sanderson puts some agnostic characters into his fantasy worlds.

  4. That’s too bad, but kinda good for me. One Sanderson book that won’t swallow up my time for other books 🙂 I’ve been staying up late reading the Mistborn books. I know I’m ahead of the group, but I’m the third book now. I just can’t stop. I haven’t read Elantris yet. Is that another mammoth one?

    • Both “Elantris” and “Warbreaker” are standalone novels, which is one of the things that I enjoyed about both. “Elantris” is around 600ish pages, and I loved it.

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