Warbreaker is a great standalone by the legendary fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson. This is a very crucial book that connects most with the overarching plot of Cosmere.
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Page Number: 688
Audible Listening Time: 24 hours and 56 mins
Goodreads Rating: 4.3/5
My Rating: 3.5/5
Set in the world of 'Nalthis' Warbreaker tells the story of two sisters who are navigating the political environment of the world and discovering interesting things about themselves. This is a story of immortals and gods playing with magic that is beyond the understanding of anyone.
Siri the youngest of two sisters is sent to marry Godking to prevent war between Hallandren and her home country Idris. But she is a carefree woman who wants to enjoy her life. Would the burden of politics and diplomacy be too much for her? Her older sister Vivienne is hell-bent on rescuing her sister without causing war but is that even possible when the power imbalance threatens to tear apart the fabric of reality itself? In this journey, Vivienne discovers the wonders and dangers of the magic flowing in the land called 'Biochromatic Breath' and learns to wield it from the most unlikely person possible.
I loved the plot of Warbreaker. It engages the reader from the very first few chapters and balances the mysteries very well. Warbreaker has multiple POVs but it juggles them perfectly and delivers an interesting story. The plot sometimes gets too busy explaining the world which can distract the reader but it doesn't happen too often. So, ignoring it works most of the time.
Siri is a sweet character left to fend for herself in a disturbing political environment. She has been married to Godking but can't see him or touch him. She has to play the part of a dutiful wife without interacting at all with her husband. The people around her are not her friend. They are hiding something and she can feel it. Warbreaker sends her on a journey where she learns to understand diplomacy and act upon it. Throughout it, she also manages to find love with her husband who is fighting his own battles being the Godking, an immortal himself.
I loved the Siri in Warbreaker. Her chapters are the ones I was most eagerly looking forward to. She goes through the most interesting character arc in Warbreaker. The transformation of the sweet and carefree woman into a tactical politician and a supporting wife is breathtaking to read.
Vivienne is a tough character. She was supposed to be the bride of Godking but she is too precious for Idris. So, her little sister gets sent as a bride instead of her. After preparing all her life for the politics of Hellandren, she is now left useless. But she embarks upon a journey to save her sister from the clutches of the power-hungry people of Hellandren. She finds a reluctant companion in Vasher who helps her to learn the magic of the land and use it to start a rebellion against the Government.
Vivienne's character is crucial to the plot of Warbreaker because we get to learn about the magic of Nalthis through her. She is new to it so we discover everything about the magic through her eyes. I love how she struggles to accept the magic and use it because it goes against her religious beliefs. But desperate times call for desperate actions. Because of this, her chapters verge on info dumping the most which distract me from her goal sometimes. Other than that she is an interesting character.
Vasher is a character that balances worldbuilding and character arc almost perfectly in Warbreaker. His character also explains the magic system and the worldbuilding a lot in his chapters but it never felt boring and info-dumping distractions. Brandon Sanderson brilliantly wrote his interactions with other characters. I loved his scenes with his infamous sword 'The Nightblood'. This is one of the best parts of Warbreaker. I know that Vasher will become more important in Cosmere so I carefully read his chapters for easter eggs. I found many and they are very interesting.
Susebron's character is scarce and has very few interactions with other characters but that's part of the plot. In spite of being the most powerful figure in 'Nalthis' and being immortal, his character arc is the most interesting in Warbreaker. The way Suseborn is controlled by the people around him for political gain is sad. His breaking free of those invisible shackles delivers a heartwarming and powerful climax to the story of Warbreaker.
Lightsong seems to be the favourite character among the fans of Brandon Sanderson. I personally didn't like this character at all. This character doesn't make sense and talks nonsense all the time. Lightsong reminds me of Shallan in the early chapters of The Way of Kings which tries to seem sarcastically intelligent and failing.
Warbreaker has choppy world-building at times. The world is interesting enough to hold my attention but some things were not explained well. 'Nalthis' as a planet and its geography is confusing. I had trouble imagining the world as a living breathing place. Most of Warbreaker takes place in closed quarters and palaces, which may be the reason for confusing worldbuilding.
Overall, I didn't hate the worldbuilding but it is not the best of Brandon Sanderson. I loved the introduction of important elements that may play a huge role in the overall plot of Cosmere. So, I am excited to see how the world of Nalthis is expanded in future.
Warbreaker has the most innovative magic system. In theory, the magic system of 'Nalthis' is more interesting than the magic system of The Stormlight Archive but in execution, the magic system falters a bit. The magic of 'Nalthis' is called 'Awakening' which uses 'Biochromatic Breaths' as the core element. The more breaths one person holds the more powerful they are. The breaths give various powers to the holders depending on the level of awakening they are on. The levels of awakening are called 'Heightening'
This magic system is sometimes not clear. This is because the magic system is more visually based which is hard to imagine when reading. I think the magic system will shine if adapted to the screen. In conclusion, I enjoyed the magic system in Warbreaker but I have more questions than answers about it.
The pacing of Warbreaker is almost perfect. I never felt the story drag too much. There are some bits that verge on info-dumping but it recovers quite well and picks up the pace at the right moments. I loved how action-packed the whole book is. The constant activity keeps things moving forward and makes Warbreaker fast-paced even after being a chunky book.
I am happy with the pacing of Warbreaker quite a lot. It didn't take me long to finish the book. Usually, Brandon Sanderson's books take me a week to a month to finish but this one took me only two days to finish.
I enjoyed Warbreaker quite a lot. I enjoyed it more than Elantris. Elantris has a better character arc but I could connect more with Warbreaker emotionally. It introduces some of my favourite characters that are going to be important in the future. I like the characters from Warbreaker. It sometimes doesn't live up to the standards of worldbuilding Brandon Sanderson currently have. But I enjoyed my time with it nonetheless.
Warbreaker is a standalone fantasy, for now, that connects the most with Cosmere. The book has amazing characters and creative magic & world-building. The pacing of the Warbreaker is done well. I never felt bored. It was easier to finish than the other books written by Brandon Sanderson. Warbreaker delivers an intriguing plot with spectacular characters. The dialogue in Warbreaker is the thing that kept me interested and forced me to keep reading. Dialogues are fantastic.
The only thing it falters at is the magic system. Despite being the most interesting magic system in all of the work of Brandon Sanderson, it was not able to clearly communicate the magic system. I had trouble understanding it the most in all of Brandon Sanderson's books. I had to watch YouTube videos to understand it and that is not a good sign.
I enjoyed my time with Warbreaker, especially the breadcrumbs left for readers to pick up while understanding the Cosmere. Discovering easter eggs gave me an unexplainable satisfaction while reading Warbreaker. Overall, I liked Warbreaker enough that I want a sequel and discover more about the world Brandon Sanderson has woven into Warbreaker.
“I swear, my dear. Sometimes our conversations remind me of a broken sword." She raised an eyebrow. "Sharp as hell," Lightsong said, "but lacking a point.”
“You're a very difficult person to manipulate, you know." "Nonsense," he said. "You just have to promise me that I won't have to do a thing, and then I'll do anything you want."
“It was strange, how easily and quickly protection could cause destruction. Sometimes, Vasher wondered if the two weren't really the same thing. Protect a flower, destroy pests who wanted to feed on it. Protect a building, destroy the plants that could have grown in the soil. Protect a man. Live with the destruction he creates.”
“You don't have to believe in my miracles. You can call them accidents or coincidences, if you must. But don't pity me for my faith. And don't presume that you're better, just because you believe something different.”
“They all want to be involved, but nobody wants to be responsible.”
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn't like his job, and the immortal who's still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.
Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren's capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.
By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.