I have found myself in a bit of a Brandon Sanderson mood, of late, thanks mostly to my lacklustre feelings surrounding ‘Steelheart’, and while I have pulled ‘Way of the Kings’ off the shelf to re-read, I also remembered that ‘Warbreaker’ had a bookmark left in the first 150 pages that I hadn’t returned to in a while.
So here, finally, is my long-overdue review of Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson.
And boy did he know what he was doing when he wrote this one!
I’m actually relatively surprised by just how good this book really is. I normally find myself dismissing standalone books by authors published around their ‘big hits’ – in this case, Sanderson’s ‘Mistborn’ trilogy – but I should have known better, considering the author in question.
Mistborn is beautifully representative of Sanderson’s world-building abilities, specifically his magic system creation. Despite a mild reception from Orson Scott Card – quoted as saying he initially found some aspects of the magic system disappointing – I can quite honestly say that Warbreaker’s magic system is as wonderfully wrought and visualised as any Sanderson has ever created. It helps define the world, the actions of those good and bad, their religions, politics, and motivations: it is in every way the perfect example of Tolkien’s ‘secondary creation’ – a fact that raised great ire in me whenever I saw it in the blurb of this book, but now represents the highest compliment I can fathom.
The characters are similarly well rounded, much more so than found in Steelheart, and left me visibly stunned at several points throughout the story. Sanderson managed to perfectly loop me into the fiction he was writing so that the twists and turns came completely unprepared-for, and left me shocked as my world was turned upside down, creating for a wonderfully fun reading ride.
I really can’t recommend this book enough, right now. The shifting dynamics of the politics and loyalties, the beautifully-convoluted magic system, the relatable and despicable characters, and the way the book finished – which is always a tough thing to manage – all make this one of the better books I’ve read this year. Pity it was released in 2009.
Joshua S Hill, 8/10
It’s rare to come across a standalone novel that’s so full of content as Warbreaker. Once again Sanderson manages to create an interesting world full of mysteries, while telling you a gripping story full of plot twists and mind games. Warbreaker tells us of two countries, Indria and Hallandren, that used to be one, but have separated on grounds of their belief. Hallandren is vastly superior to Indria however, and the king of Indria has to send his daughter to marry their God King to keep a promise he made. Having arrived in Hallandren, the princesses of Indria find that it is not what they were expecting. Prejudices run deep however, and are hard to overcome. Warbreaker tells us of the twin journeys of the sisters, who are playing games with the fate of nations at stake…
As the sisters come to understand the world around them, so will you. Trying to find the truth in this nest of politicians is a challenging task though, and events often unfold sudden and unexpected. Just when you think you know how it all fits together, your world gets turned upside down once again!
Sanderson introduces a new magical system in Warbreaker, called Awakening. Through the use of Breaths (which you are granted at birth) and colours, you can Command objects to do your bidding. This is not a very straightforward skill however, it’s bound by a lot of rules and Awakeners are very few in number. As the story progresses you come to understand this skill a little better, and will revel in its amazing uses. People who read the Mistborn Trilogy will enjoy the great contrast with its grey world and this new world that’s literally blossoming with colours.
I’ve come to expect a lot from Brandon Sanderson after reading Elantris and the Mistborn Trilogy, yet he amazed me once again with Warbreaker. The colourful world full of intrigue and mystery made a big impression, as did the shocking plot twists. I dare not spoil the delights that are awaiting any who have yet to pick up this masterwork. On a side-note, the ending of this story is closed but in the epilogue he clearly implies that he could return to this world at a later point, for which I am very, very glad.
Koen Peters, 9.4/10
2 positive reader review(s) for Warbreaker
Anita from US
This book is awesome. If you have any imagination you will agree. It's fantasy magical different!!
Nathan from Pamilan
This is the awesome-est book that I have ever come across. This is the first of Sandersen's books that I have read and I am already impressed beyond anything. His other books have better ratings. Come to think of it... when I read the others I will be thoroughly filling myself with 'Breaths' that will take me to the "Fifth heightening"!!!
9.6/10 from 3 reviews