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.