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Book Review: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

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Lightsong forever!

“Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson

 

Via Wikipedia:Warbreaker tells the story of two princesses, Vivenna and Siri. Vivenna was contracted through treaty to marry the God-King of rival nation Hallendren. Instead Siri is sent to meet the treaty. Vivenna then follows [her] to Hallendren in hopes of saving Siri from her fate. Both sisters become involved in intrigues relating to an imminent war between their home nation of Idris and Hallendren.

This is the second book by Sanderson that I’ve read. The first being “Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians.” My review was less than glowing for Alcatraz. The main issue I had being that each chapter started with an aside before getting back to the story. My close friends didn’t agree with me, but that’s why different people like different authors.

So when I came to “Warbreaker” I wasn’t sure what kind of book I should expect to read. I chose this particular one because Brandon released it, for free, on his website. Along with every revision up to the one he sent to his editors for final proofing. So I downloaded version six, loaded it up onto my Kindle, and dove right in.

I’ll start by saying that it took be roughly a third of the way into the book to get invested. It doesn’t help Sanderson that–over the past year or so–I’ve grown weary of fantasy books. I’ve read many over my lifetime, and the prospect of having to learn about new gods, new magic systems, and new races makes me queasy.

But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with “Warbreaker.” Despite the slow going at first, he presented me with a character that I couldn’t stop reading about–Lightsong.

Here we have a character, a Returned, treated as a god and expected to be a beacon for the people of Hallendren. But unfortunately Lightsong does not believe in his own divinity. In fact, he suspects the entire religion to be false. And that’s what really got me hooked. A god that doesn’t believe in himself? Sign me up!

Sanderson is also regarded as the man of magic systems. An author that creates unique and satisfying ways of portraying magic. I’ve listened to many lectures of his regarding his “laws of magic,” and they are really eye opening and I’ve used them for myself.

However, the magic system here–BioChromatic Breath–doesn’t do much for me. Oh, it’s very interesting and unique. But maybe I was looking for more whizbang than I received. Within the context of the story is functions beautifully. The name BioChroma took me out of the story for a bit, as I felt like a bit of SciFi slipped into my Fantasy. But I had a chance to ask Sanderson about that directly and he offered a good reason behind it.

Overall I really enjoyed the novel. Sanderson built up some great characters that went through wonderful arcs. Their motivations were solid and decisions made sense. He even had me guessing the entire novel on who were the “good” guys and who were the “bad” guys. There were some good twists and surprises along the way.

I would say my major gripe would have been the end and how the war conflict was handled. Despite the heavy foreshadowing throughout the book, it still felt like a Dues Ex Machina moment. But really, that moment wasn’t as important as the more character moments that was shown, so I didn’t really think about it too much.

Now I want to move onto Sanderson’s writing style in general. When I had started reading “Warbreaker” I felt there was something different about it. The entire time I read it I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then, after sitting in his kaffeeklatsch and hearing him talk about the Orwellian style of writing, I saw what was different.

Sanderson writes strictly for clarity. His sentences are simple and straightforward. Rarely does he go for flowery language or complex, metaphorical ramblings. And I have to say I liked it. It read quickly and easily. He wasn’t bothered to have sentences start with the same word one after another. Which is something I try and fight against personally. But with his work it didn’t bother me.

In the end I would definitely recommend this book to others. From what I gather it would be a strong example of his body of work, allowing someone to read it, without feeling like they need to invest in a series.

Score: 83 and a star particle. Would read again.

 

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