on 21 October 2010
This is the first book I've read of Sanderson's, and based on this I'll probably try a few more. A stand alone book it actually has all the ingredients to be a bit better than it was. A very good storyline that makes sense, a unique magic, and pretty believable characters. Indeed, the only thing stopping it from being 5 stars is that it was put downable.
Things I liked:
Unique magic system.
Plot that made sense and kept you guessing to the very end. A few twists that explained themselves and took me by surprise.
Good characters, with a few reasonably unique ones. That said, a few old regulars as well.
A world that made you want to learn more about its history.
Single stand alone book.
on 1 February 2011
I hadn't read anything by this author before, but bought this to try him out. I was a bit put off by the cover art, and seriously disheartened by the blurb, as per the product description here - I mean, 'two sisters, who happen to be princesses...' - yeuch! However, a few pages in I was reassured that the writing style was pretty decent; further in, decided I liked the way the characters were developing; further in again, I realised how clever the plot was; by the end, I was blown away! Definitely a superior fantasy novel - I'll be trying out more by this author.
on 10 May 2010
I started reading Mr. Sanderson's work with his first installment to R.Jordan's Wheel of Time series.
After being rather impressed at his ability to bring a personal touch without losing the flow of the series, I picked up the Mistborn Trilogy. I loved it and highly recommend it! I decided to then go back in time to Elantris and also found the story quite well done and while it wasn't in my opinion quite as captivating as Mistborn (part of it due to the detail a three book series allows), Mr. Sanderson's first novel also easily met my expectations.
Safe to say that by this time I had gained a fairly high expectation for Warbreaker.
I find that Mr. Sanderson again showed his courage and talent in adding yet another new type of magic when compared to his previous books. How refreshing to have new twists and to not always come back to the same "world" as before (or as close to it can be without it actually being it). The book was extremely entertaining and difficult to put down (at times very difficult).
I rated Warbreaker at 4 star more as a result of knowing that Mr. Sanderson was capable of a little bit more, as I still maintain a preference for his Mistborn series. However Mr. Sanderson has definitely won me over, and I will be anticipating my purchase of all his own works as well as his work on Wheel of Time.
Originally I read this book after reading all other books that I could get my hands on by Brandon Sanderson and I gave it a 3 star rating. After learning about his overarching Cosmere storyline that connects all his books I felt compelled to revisit this book to see if my opinion of it has changed for the better... sadly it seemed that I am less impressed with this novel on a second reading.
I will start this review by saying that in my opinion Brandon Sanderson is the most exciting author in modern fantasy and as such it is hard not to hold his works to a higher standard. Even if his stories aren't good you have to respect an author that strives to create something completely new in every book rather than fall back on old fantasy favourites. If written by another author I might have had lower expectations and therefore enjoyed this book more.
Let's start with what is good about this book. The key thing to really enjoy in this novel is what Brandon Sanderson does best, creates rich worlds but more importantly a fantastic magic system. Once again this magic system is unique to anything I have read before and it is interesting to read about. It is far too complex to describe in a single review so I'd rather just say that if there was any reason to read this book then it is definitely the magic system.
Sadly though that was all that I did enjoy about this book.
My primary complaint is with the characters in this novel. There wasn't a single character who I found myself even beginning to like let alone grow any kind of attachment to. There are three primary viewpoint characters in this novel and all three of them are very hard to relate to until right at the end of the book which, in a novel this size, is far too late for the characters to finally start growing interesting.
Siri is the stereotypical wild and rebellious princess who always does only what makes her happy without ever really considering other people. The problem with her as a character is that she never really seems to learn the value of putting others before herself until right at the very end and her rebellious nature is always shown as some kind of high quality that will always serve her best and get her out of any trouble. This selfish attitude was very hard to relate to.
Vivenna is Siri's older sister and opposite number in every way. She always puts duty first and is the perfect Idrian who hates all things about Hallendren and their religion but fails to see the flaws in her own country and religion. It is her single minded attitude and lofty values that places her above everyone else (in her own mind at least) and again this is not changed until the very end making her always seem like a preachy little brat through the bulk of the novel. Every time I turned to one of her chapters I couldn't help but sigh and wish it was over quicker.
Finally there is Lightsong, one of the returned who is worshiped as a god. This character more than any other made me want to give this book a one star review and every time I read his chapters I genuinely felt as though I wanted to just stop reading which is a first for a Sanderson novel. His flippant attitude coupled with his constant passive aggression towards everyone and every situation never once came off as comical or slightly tragic as I expect it was intended to be. Instead it always came off as the actions of an incredibly arrogant hippie who was basically an ass throughout the entire book. His constant condescension coupled with an attitude that is only found in people who think they are smarter than they really are and constantly look down on others made me hate this character with enough passion to want to rip his pages from the book.
The themes with these three main characters are passed on to other characters throughout the book. What is supposed to be humour always feels like the condescending remarks of people who think themselves smarter than everyone else. Each person seemed to embody one dimension only in their personality which made them all seem flat and none of them were remotely likable.
Basically the characters were a huge let down and this was only highlighted further as they were part of a story that lacked any pace or intrigue. For such a long book it really didn't achieve much and nothing ever seemed to happen until the end. It was all talking, planning and no follow through and when there was action it was short and under used. Even the magic was scarce in the early parts of the book and only when two of the main characters team up in the last quarter of the book is it ever really explored fully.
Overall this is a very disappointing story and was made more so by the fact that it is by an author who I have great respect for. Once again I can appreciate the idea behind this book and I respect the author for trying something new and different. However, this story never really came together and did the idea justice.
on 28 May 2012
Just like Elantris - this book is an epic tale in one book (rather then a trilogies or more)... uncommon by scifi standards and greatly appreciated by those who loath dragged out plots.
This is a book which would appeal to scifi fans as well as mainstream readers of fiction. It has some politics, intrigue, suspense, magic, romance and action - all within a great premise. I urge you to read this book. Even those who dislike scifi will enjoy this book (perhaps more then conventional scifi fans). Its more Star Wars than Star Trek... Glamorous not geeky.
I immensely appreciated the the fast-paced gripping tale, the charisma of the main characters and the magic which manages to manifest itself into the pages of every book.
Elantris was the author's first novel and you can perceive when reading this book how well developed his writing skills have become. The female characters in particular are far more realistic and well developed in this book than in Elantris.
The characters are not perfect - the author portrays their weaknesses as well as their strength in a compelling manner. Their development in the book is both a joy to read as well as a well thought out twist.
Lightsong's tale - an intriguing sub-plot - is one of my favourite parts of the book. I won't divulge any more - suffice it to say - he surprises himself as well as his audience.
I highly recommend you read this. Its not a masterpiece with profound prose, but it is a great form of escapism!
The only issue I have with the authors books are that they focus on a political system which is not only out-dated (monarchy rule is ridiculous for any free thinking society) and hence the amount of Royals, "noblemen" etc are rather unsophisticated. I would be thrilled if a book could be published based on a democratic society threatened by a scifi version of Rupert Murdoch.
on 18 January 2012
Brandon Sanderson is a master world builder, but here it is the magic system that he builds with thought and precision. The world is of course still well built, but the magic, oh the magic just blows you away. I will not even try to explain it, he does it much better. But to simplify, everyone has got breaths, if you got more then you can use those for magic. There is also this thing about colors and how some have returned to life. But yes just read the book. Or else I will spend the rest of this review on the magical system in this world.
It's a world where the Returned and the Godking with his priests rules the kingdom we see most of. They are terrible and worships people who have come back to life. At least that is what our heroines from Idris think. Siri, is young and out of control, but in any other country she would just be filled with life. I liked her because she was real, human. While her sister Vivienne is collected and does her duty well. One of them will marry the terrible Godking to save their country from war.
The story is about these two sisters who are trying to survive and do what is best. It's also about a mysterious stranger called Vasher whom I do not know if I should trust or not when he is skulking about. And it is about Lifesong, one of the Returned. He died, he came back, and he is a God with doubts. My favorite character was Siri because just of the way her story went, which I will tell you no more about. I also liked the Lifesong bits since the whole concept about these Gods was so interesting. But then Viv's story took me for a few surprises too. All in all making all the characters so much more than I would have thought. It is a book about changes, freedom, doubt, misconceptions and more.
This book is it, yes there are no trilogy or 10 books to wait for. You will get a conclusion in it so that is a big plus for me. It's nice with a one book fantasy "series" once in a while.
It was good and the magic, oh he creates it so well. Where does he come up with these ideas? I do love Brandon Sanderson's books.
on 10 July 2015
I'm surprised how nervous I get about picking up a Brandon Sanderson book that's not from a series I'm already familiar with (this is, so far, a standalone). I should have learnt by now that all his books are fantastic, and by the end of them I'm always desperate to pick up another as soon as possible.
Warbreaker is no exception. A story about two princesses in a world of magic, who both visit a neighbouring country in a reversal of their previous roles. Sanderson's exploration of these two characters (and a couple of others) really makes this book, and I really enjoyed seeing them explore who they were and find their places in the world.
The world itself is another marvel of Sanderson's imagination - he's constructed yet another of his detailed magic systems and a pair of counterbalanced cultures that have real depth and layers that keep on peeling to reveal more and more. I find it hard to fathom how he has become so great at creating these places and the stories to go with them.
Once again a great read and one that I can easily imagine me returning to re-read in the future. Easily the best thing I've read for ages - to the extent that the books I picked up afterwards felt bland and lifeless by comparison.
on 2 August 2009
Perhaps there have been times when your breath was literally taken away by some gorgeous display of prismatic colors stretched far across the landscape. Perhaps the human mind is hard-wired to react in this way, for strong colors of many hues are a prime indicator of life in all of its many forms.
Sanderson has taken this basic reaction and created an entire system of magic based upon it, which if nothing else is quite original. Then he has layered this idea with two fully delineated societies that have sharply different ways of incorporating this magic system into their religion, culture, and laws. Here and there, he tosses in a dollop of humorous satire, making the whole a little more believable. Most noteworthy is his reluctant 'god' Lightsong, who is perhaps the most interesting character, in some ways similar to some of Roger Zelazny's cynical heroes. His other characters are well drawn and quite believable, and the general situation of two warring city-states is given good plausibility.
All good things. However, I found the prose a little lacking in flavor, the descriptions a little flat and not as detailed as the book's basic premise seems to demand. The plot twists were suitably complicated, but at the end I felt a little let down, as the answers to all the problems seemed a little too straightforward and easily accomplished. These are, perhaps, nitpicks to a rarity in today's fantasy world, that of a complete story in a single volume, and I did find it quite an enjoyable read, but neither was I totally grabbed by it, nor did I come away with new great insights into the human condition or the proper roles and impacts of religion, mores, and cultural attitudes on the individual and societies. And these thematic ideas lie at the heart of what this story is about.
Eminently readable, different, and enjoyable, but not great.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
"Warbreaker" is a pretty good sign of why Brandon Sanderson is one of the best up-and-coming fantasy authors -- it's a book dense with magic, politics, complex schemes and characters that are never quite what they seen. While there are some stretches that are rather slow, Sanderson has a vivid style and a knack for political tangles that is rarely seen in modern fantasy -- and it leaves you hungry for more.
For many years, the Idrian princess Vivenna was supposed to marry the Hallandren God-King, a powerful Returned named Susebron, and provide him with a divine heir. But at the last minute, her tomboy sister Siri is sent instead. And Siri is completely unprepared for her new life -- the opulent palaces, the bullying priests, and a silent husband who seems to ignore her every night (and whom she's not allowed to look at or speak to).
Determined to rescue her little sister, Vivenna sets out for Hallandren and joins up with a band of Idrian rebels and mercenaries -- and runs afoul of Vasher, a mysterious man with a bloodthirsty, living weapon. And at the same time, a skeptical young Returned named Lightsong realizes that political wheels are turning in the gods' court -- and begins to manipulate them to his own ends.
But things are not as they appear for either of the princesses. Siri soon discovers that Susebron is not the haughty cruel man she thought he was, but a childlike mute who is rapidly falling in love with her -- and she begins suspecting that his priests are plotting against him. And with the help of Vasher, Vivenna discovers to her horror that her trust has been horribly misplaced -- and that she may have set the wheels in motion for a vast, bloodstained plot that could destroy both Hallendren and Idris.
Most "political" fantasy leaves me completely cold; I get bored easily by contrived schemes and equally contrived loopholes. But "Warbreaker" is one of the exceptions, since Sanderson is a master at manipulating your expectations -- every time you think you have all the sides figured out, he twists the story around and shocks you with the facts. Villains turn out to be allies, allies are villains, plots turn out to be imaginary fancies, and leaders turn out to be pawns (and vice versa).
The only problem is that given its length and epic breadth, it gets rather slow at times. And his magical system can be rather confusing for awhile (especially regarding the Returned and BioChromatic breath), although eventually I think I figured it out.
Sanderson's prose is smooth, fast-moving and robust, with lots of intricate descriptions of bright colors, lush clothes and opulent palaces. And when the political cogs aren't turning, he fills the story with a sweet and subtle romance between Susebron and Siri, humorous moments (Siri's "sex bouncing"), and funny dialogue ("You mean to tell me that our God-king -- the most holy and divine personage in our pantheon -- died to cure a few tummy aches?").
The entire plot essentially revolves around the sisters Vivenna and Siri, and they both go down very surprising paths -- Siri has to curb her tongue and learn how to navigate a court's treacherous currents, while the haughty Vivenna finds herself humiliated and forced to face her own arrogance, hypocrisy and weakness. There's a wide range of likeable and realistic characters, but the best include the sweetly childlike Susebron, the snarky but good-hearted Lightsong, and the grizzled wanderer Vasher. And Nightblood is a fun, unique -- bloodthirsty, chipper and a clever variant on the usual magical sword.
"Warbreaker" is a rich and complex piece of work, with only a few flaws in its vibrant writing and plotting -- and the ending leaves you hungry for a sequel. Definitely a classic in the making.
on 21 November 2015
I've recently begun my journey into the world of all things Sanderson. Having read Elantris on my climb towards his more established series (Stormlight and Mistborn) I decided to read through his standalones first so I could get a feel for his writing style before I make the plunge and begin one of the series.
Elantris was good. Warbreaker was phenomenal. Sure, it has a couple of flaws, it's not perfect, but, it's the best standalone fantasy novel I have read; fact.
Every single character viewpoint is interested, there was no reaching a new chapter to see it was 'Character x' and groaning slightly at having to endure a few pages of tedium, it was a constant excitement to check-in on each viewpoint. Sanderson does a phenomenal job at making each character unique and wildly interesting.
The magic system did take some time getting to grips with, but it's purposefully left a bit ambiguous as you are introduced to it as some of the viewpoints get to grips with it themselves.
If you are looking for an epic, enthralling and captivating standalone fantasy novel; look no further, pick up Warbreaker and I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.