Warbreaker – Brandon Sanderson
Genre: High Fantasy
I can thank my two friends for encouraging me to give this one a go! With a lot of college reading over the summer, I knew a great big fantasy series just wasn’t on the cards but I wanted my fantasy fix and this did just that. If you’ve heard of Sanderson, you’ve probably heard of the Mistborn trilogy and while I sincerely loved that series, this stand-alone had something extra and I was even more impressed. Any fantasy lovers will know the genre has an abundance of epic fantasy series’s but is lacking in some powerful one-offs. Luckily, Warbreaker filled that void and by no half-measure either. Racking up to about 600 pages, it’s still hefty but provides a fast-paced, exciting tale that I guarantee will take an awful lot of willpower to put down!
The story follows 2 young princess’s: Vivenna, the eldest and Siri, the youngest. Vivenna’s life has been controlled since birth; she was taught the ways to properly present herself and educated on the workings of the court because, when she turned 18, she was promised to the God King of Hallandren. Siri, on the other hand, was completely ignored and quite the erratic youngest child. And so, when their father suddenly decided to send Siri to fulfil the treaty, it was a shock to everyone. With that, Siri became in-the-know about the deepest, darkest secrets about Hallandren court and took it upon herself to put things right. Meanwhile, Vivenna embarked upon her own quest to save her sister, meeting some rather interesting people and getting in some rather unfavourable situations along the way. Fundamentally, that is how the story goes.
However, like any other fantasy book, there’s a little more to it and I think Sanderson should pride himself on his astoundingly unique concepts. In Hallandren, Idris (where Vivenna and Siri come from) and the world in which the story is set, every person starts life with a Breath. Some lose their Breath/s and become a Drab. Some gain more Breaths through life and, in doing so, advance in their Heightening. The higher your Heightening, the more powers you possess but at the lower levels it’s all about colour. With one’s Breath, you can feel someone’s aura and detect colours yet, as the number of Breaths increases, your senses are strengthened thus allowing you to detect more subtle changes in colour, for example. So, as you’d expect, the more Breaths someone has, the more powerful they are and lots of those people are gods of Hallandren, known as the Returned. These people died heroically and therefore are resurrected into life as a God with a new name and no personal memories of their life before. One of these is Lightsong the Bold, who we follow alongside the two sisters. He’s not quite what you’d expect from a god because he rejects his responsibilities and questions the faith of the court. His plotline is focused on discovering his past while, simultaneously, trying to avoid (but inevitably does) getting involved with the war that has been simmering for years between Hallandren and Idris.
Now, I could talk for days, explaining the ins and outs of the world Sanderson has created but that would turn out as a lecture and less of a review. There are so many elements to the story that it’s worth just giving it a read if you’re interested in understanding how the world works because I wouldn’t want to bore you with the details. Instead, I’ll just summarise my thoughts. One thing I particularly liked was the constant shift of plot lines between chapters. This doesn’t always work for me. For example, ASOIAF did get tedious when so many of the storylines weren’t of interest to me. However, the three main ones in Warbreaker were always thrilling and kept up my attention. Sometimes big fantasy books can fall into slow moments, purely by the nature of their massive size, but thankfully, there was no issue here.
As the book progressed, the more and more Vivenna and Siri reminded me of Sansa and Arya Stark from ASOIAF/GOT. Siri was the mischievous younger sibling and to watch her become acquainted in the corrupt Halandren court and truly foreground her position was very enjoyable. She learns more about the demonic God King and realises that, indeed, he is nothing of the sort. There are some really endearing scenes that ensue after Siri discovers something about the God King (that I won’t spill the beans on) that I also really loved. And following Vivenna was fun too. She broke free from her sheltered life, took a few bashes along the way, sure, but emerged all the better from it.
The fine details of Sanderson’s novels are really what separates him from the rest. Honestly, I was engrossed in the story and I can’t say much more than that it was an extremely incredible read. And if categorising it as a ‘favourite’ (which happens VERY VERY rarely) doesn’t convince you to read it, then I don’t know what will!
– – – – – – – – POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Update – – – – – – – –
A book recommended by someone you just met ✓
A book that’s more than 600 pages ✓
Happy Reading Bookworms!