I have to admit I had an ulterior motive for reading Warbreaker from Brandon Sanderson. I’d heard good things about his Mistborn trilogy, but hadn’t taken the time to read them.
After Robert Jordan passed away, Sanderson was chosen to complete Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. As a fan of the series, I wanted to see what Sanderson’s style was like before he took Jordan’s final work and finished it.
Without a doubt I was entranced from page one with Warbreaker. My only complaint is now I want to know more about the adventures of Vivenna and Vasher!
As I read about the world of T’Telir, I met many characters of great depth: the sisters Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris, who were fated to travel different paths than they’d trained for; Vasher, a man of few words, little patience, and a deep knowledge and talents for using people and BioChromatic magic to pursue his goals; Lightsong, god of bravery — one of the Returned gods of Hallendren and a reluctant player in the politics plaguing his city; and then there is Susebron, the God King of Hallendren. I’d tell you more about him, but it might spoil the surprise.
Beyond the strong characters of the story, the unique magic system of the breath used by BioChromatic mages was also very intriguing. Each living thing had some amount of breath within it. Mages can take the breath and see the world with an enhanced appreciation for color, but also have the ability to grant unliving things life and control them to a degree. Vasher is a master of this and used it brilliantly in many scenes of the book.
There is great good in the world of Warbreaker and great evil as well. But the threads stay in the gray area in-between for the most part, which was the best part of all. Ethical and moral choices abound within these pages, and good people sometimes make bad choices. But it’s a choice, nonetheless. By the end of the book, the true heroes show themselves for who they were all along.
Though I really liked Vasher, I found myself identifying more with Denth in places. He was a riddle of a character, cloaked in his reticence, cryptic comments, and dark humor. This was not a man to be trifled with, and yet he worked great as a foil to Vasher’s impatience because he watched, waited, and even helped… until it was time to hinder.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up Sanderson’s gift for humor. Lightsong has some of the most amazingly sarcastic lines I’ve ever read in a fantasy novel. For example, fairly early on we learn about his desire to be the least active among the gods… “I try to avoid having thoughts. They lead to other thoughts, and — if you’re not careful — those lead to actions. Actions make you tired. I have this on rather good authority from someone who once read it in a book.”
Now that I’ve read some of Sanderson’s own writing style and his voice, I will be very curious to read the two final books of the Wheel of Time series. From what I’ve heard, they may be closer to the tone of the first few books of the series, which I enjoyed more than later ones. And I may have to find Sanderson’s Elantris series to catch up on what I’ve been missing from his earlier work as well.
If you like epic fantasy in a one-book package, Warbreaker from Brandon Sanderson is a steal. Be sure to pick it up at your favorite online or brick-and-mortar bookseller.