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REVIEW | Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (Tor)

All is not what it seems in Hallandren, Sanderson's highly imagined Kingdom that has been on the brink of war with its neighbor, Indris for generations. A Princess of Indris's hand in marriage has been promised to the God-King of Hallandren by treaty in order to avert or at least stay the war for a time. From the get go Warbreaker twists and turns all expectations on their head with its tightly woven plot as a reversal of roles happens again and again. Intricate politics, lazy gods, zombie-like soldiers, a magical sword with blood lust, and a damn-fine love story elevate Warbreaker into Epic Fantasy with an intimate feel. The characters start out a little too cliche, but they quickly develop into people you care for. Warbreaker's greatest strengths are the incredible world building well-steeped in its mythology and Sanderson's flair for creating a wholly original magical system is unmatched with anything I've read in recent years. BioChromatic magic or breaths is the ability for one to impart a piece of themselves onto an object to animate it. I was disappointed a little that the magic system didn't have more to do with color, but the gathering of breaths and the way they are used more than made up for my preconceived notions. I also enjoyed the so-called Gods a lot, especially Lightsong as I couldn't wait for his snarky perspective to pop in. A surprisingly quick read at nearly 600 pages when I got to page 500 I didn't know how everything could be tied-up in less than 100 pages, yet somehow Sanderson manages to bring it together without leaving much open and all the major plot threads are answered. The only thing that bothered me a little was guessing early what would happen with the God King near the end. Some Fantasy readers may be disappointed that more action doesn't happen as giant battles are not the du jour, but rather more of the sneak, slash, and run variety. This is my first Sanderson read, but it certainly will not be the last. Sanderson has managed the amazing feat of making classic-style Epic Fantasy new to me again. I give Warbreaker 9 out of 10 Hats. Although written as a standalone Sanderson has left the well open for much more and he has indicated he is probably not done with this world. A follow-up may be years off since he has to finish WOT and he just signed a 5 book deal for his next big Epic Fantasy series. Warbreaker is Epic Fantasy at its finest and I'll be there for a second helping when it is served. Now that I've read Brandon's take on color-based magic I'm curious what Brent Weeks does with his Black Prism Trilogy. Book Link: US Canada Europe


pickle said...

I agree that the world was fully realized, I just don't know if I agree about the characters being equally developed. And I definitely don't feel like the Sanderson was able to tie everything up in the end. I felt like Sanderson just didn't set up the Pahn Kahl twist very well. I also feel like he kind of wrote of the way the Hallandren treated suseborn as a tool rather than a person. I don't know, some parts were pretty good, Sanderson is pretty good at writing action scenes, I just felt like the novel was overall pretty flawed.

The Mad Hatter said...

It definitely took time for the characters to develop. I see your point about the Godking. That actually played into my comment about seeing what would happen with him later on. But I do think the Pahn Kahl twist was setup, but dicussing it here may ruin it for other people.

In a way Sanderson was playing with the idea of "who can you trust?" and I think it worked out well.