Brandon Sanderson


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

January 16, 2019

randon Sanderson is a professional SF/Fantasy author. He always delivers a well-written, first-class story. It is clear that he puts a lot of thought into his imaginary worlds, Sanderson is always inventing innovative magic systems and then he thinks of the implications of that magic system and how it would change society. Sanderson is excellent at plotting, usually unveiling surprising plot points that I don't see coming. And his characters are believable. Currently, Sanderson is writing a massive 10 volume fantasy series called The Stormlight Archives, and unlike some other prominent fantasy novelists that I could name, I believe Sanderson will complete his task.

Warbreaker was published in 2009, after Sanderson had already proven his talent with the Mistborn trilogy. Sanderson is still on top of his game with this stand alone novel. Warbreaker tells the story of two sisters who are Idrian princesses, Vivenna and Siri. Idris is a small, weak mountainous nation that broke away from its powerful rival, Hallandren, in a war years ago. To prevent war between the nations, the king of Idris must send one his daughters to marry the God King of Hallandren, hoping that this union will foster peace between the two belligerent countries. In a surprise move, the younger, impulsive daughter, Siri, is sent to be the bride; rather than the oldest daughter Vivenna, who has trained all of her life for the role.

In Hallandren, the nation is devoted to their gods, who actually live amongst them. It seems that once in a great while, a citizen of Hallandren will die in heroic circumstances, and then some magic power revives that person as a god, blessed with great powers, beauty and prowess. All of the resources of Hallandren are lavished about these gods. One of these gods is Lightsong. Lightsong has no memory of his previous life (none of the gods do), but he can't accept the notion that he is a noble diety. Lightsong doesn't act like the other gods, doesn't want the trappings of luxury and privilege; of course, this makes everyone believe Lightsong has some great scheme in mind, and he is admired all the more.

Another major character is the mysterious Vasher, an unkept rogue who dresses in rags and yet carries a powerful magic sword, a sentient blade named Nightblood. For reasons, not entirely clear, Nightblood seems to be able to kill anyone who tries to draw him from the scabbard, and yet everyone feels compelled to try. Vasher's best attack seems to be unbuckling his weapon and throwing it at the feet of his opponents. Of course, when they pick the sword up, things don't go well for them. Nightblood might be the best evil sentient sword since Elric's Stormbringer.

Sanderson introduces an intriguing magic system based upon color, called BioChromatic Breath, which is color-centric. It seems every human is born with one "unit" of Breath. Most Hallandrens willingly sacrifice their Breath to the gods - each god consumes one Breath per week, nevertheless, the gods have accumulated thousands of Breaths. The god king of Hallandren controls tens of thousands of Breaths - which makes him terrifyingly powerful. Princess Siri is expected to marry this powerful god and quickly produce an heir (Naturally, there is court intigue, Siri doesn't understand Hallandren customs, factions or history!) The Breath gives enhanced color along with magic ability - the luxurious palaces sparkle with unreal, vivid color. Sanderson has put some thought into the ramifications of world where this kind of magic systems exists, and his ideas are intriguing.

This is a big book, there is a lot more going on than I can cover in this brief description. But the plot, the characters, the world-building - all are up to Sanderson's typical excellent standards. Warbreaker is recommended indeed!