Monday, June 13, 2016

Review: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson [Spoiler Free!]

I don’t even know where to start with this book. Obviously, I should start with what the book is about. But I’m not really sure that I can do it justice. Or explain it in a way that makes sense. But I’m going to try.

Warbreaker is a high fantasy novel following a slew of characters as two kingdoms, Idris and Hallandren, are on the brink of war with each other. There are way too many to explain here, but here are the highlights:
- A princess from Idris who is betrothed to the God King in Hallandren.
- Her sister, set on saving her sister and seeing her returned safely to Idris.
- A lesser god named Lightsong the Brave who isn’t quite sure how he received that title.
- Vasher. A bit of an enigma, and would prefer to keep it that way.  

The first thing that really drew me to this book was its prologue. A couple months back, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to read and I was half trying to pick something just based on what I was in the mood for, but I also was trying to read something fast-paced that I could get through quickly. I pulled 5 books from my shelves and read the first few pages just to see what would grab me, and this one grabbed me so much that I ended up reading the entirety of the prologue. Unfortunately, I wanted to be done with whatever book I chose within a few days, and I wasn’t sure that I could do that with a book that was 600+ pages, especially since I was still in classes. So I set it aside, waiting for the right time to pick it up again. And at the end of May, that’s exactly what I did. And full disclosure, I freakin’ loved it. But I’m going to try to be accurate and critical in my review so it’s not just me gushing about how much I loved everything.

This is my 7th Brandon Sanderson book. Before this, I’d read his Mistborn trilogy, the first book in his Rithmatist series, and the first two books in his Reckoners trilogy (which I’ll be finishing ASAP—I’ve been waiting for my physical copy of Calamity to reach me). So far, I have yet to be disappointed by a book that he’s written, so he’s rather quickly climbing to the top of my favorite authors list.

As with all of Sanderson’s adult work, Warbreaker takes place within the Cosmere. If you’re unfamiliar with the Cosmere, it would take me far too long to explain, so I won’t go too in-depth. Basically, it’s a universe with several different worlds. So far, none of the stories from separate worlds have overlapped (AKA you won’t be spoiled for Mistborn if you read Warbreaker or vice versa) but eventually, once more Cosmere books are published, I believe that many things should come together at some point. I don’t know the full scope or breadth of this, because I haven’t even gotten through all of the Cosmere books that have been published so far, but it’s a pretty large-scale endeavor.

OK, so now let’s talk about the world that Warbreaker takes place upon. As always, Sanderson’s world-build is impressive. Both of the kingdoms within this world are rather distinct, with completely different religions and beliefs, which are constantly prominent and discussed throughout. Both are well fleshed-out, intricate, and rather interesting. In this world, there is a magic system called Breath or BioChroma. I don’t want to ruin anything for you (part of the fun is learning all of the intricacies of the magic system) so I won’t go into too much detail here. Essentially, this magic system is based around color. Breath can be used in various ways when used in combination with color. And that’s about all I’m willing to say about the magic system, because it’s just really interesting to learn about throughout the book. It’s just really intricate and really intriguing to learn about.

The characters in this book are also a major strong point. There are a lot of really interesting characters, and they all have really strong character arcs. My personal favorite character to follow was Lightsong, a lesser god. He's really funny and sarcastic, and I found myself always wanting to delve deeper into his character and learn more about his backstory. Another character who was a highlight for me was Vasher. The prologue is from his POV, and that's initially what drew me in, and I immediately wanted to learn more and more about this really mysterious individual. And then there are the two princesses- Siri, who's very happy-go-lucky, and Vivenna, who's very disciplined. When the book begins, they're presented as polar opposites, but as they begin to develop as characters, you realize that they might be a bit more similar than expected. And in addition to those, there are numerous other side characters who constantly keep you on your toes and guessing as to who you can and can't trust. 

Because there are so many interesting characters, we also get a really interesting plot. Each character has their own interesting motivation and storyline, and all of those plots are woven together in extremely interesting ways. Sanderson is an amazing writer and knows just when to cut out from a scene and leave you wanting more so that you'll be invested to keep reading. I'd say that this is more of a slower paced book-- a fantasy driven by political maneuvering and intrigue rather than constant battles-- but that's one of the things that I really loved about it. As you continue through the book, you uncover new mysteries to be solved while simultaneously slowly unraveling other mysteries. It's just an intricate, well-crafted plot that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

So, as you can tell from the above ramblings, I thought pretty much every aspect of this book was a strong point. The characters, the plot, the world, and the magic system were all incredibly intriguing and I found myself getting incredibly invested into everything going on. I ended up giving Warbreaker 10 stars out of 10, which of course translates to 5 out of 5 on Goodreads. Seriously, Brandon Sanderson is a master of his craft and has me believing that he can do no wrong.

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