I mean, almost 2.5. I didn't like the older sister, Vivenna, at all. Her personality was annoying, her arrogance was annoying and her stupidity was annoying. Plus pretty much nothing happened in her storyline. The younger sister, Siri, was interesting. But the god-or-whatever had absolutely nothing happen in his storyline. Which was kind of the point, the idleness of his existence. Still, something could have happened. Then, like all Brandon Sanderson books, it ended well. That turn he has, where he brings all the things together and gives significances to them, really pulls even weaker stories together.
WARBREAKER is the story of two sisters - who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, a lesser god, and an immortal trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.
Theirs is a world in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren's capital city. A world transformed by BioChromatic magic, a power based on an essence known as breath. Using magic is arduous: breath can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.
But the rewards are great: by using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be performed.
Brandon Sanderson proves again that he is a master of what Tolkien called 'secondary creation,' the invention of whole worlds, complete with magics and myths all their own.
- ISBN10 0765320304
- ISBN13 9780765320308
- Publish Date 9 June 2009
- Publish Status Active
- Publish Country US
- Imprint Tor Books
- Format Hardcover
- Pages 592
- Language English
The worldbuilding is, unsurprisingly if you've read Brandon Sanderson before, very well done. The thing I like best is not that he's able to conjure such immersive worlds but that he reveals the history of them in intriguing ways. It's off-hand comments and bits of history that make the reader ask questions. Once you've read one Brandon Sanderson book, though, you know in his books you're in the hands of a conductor who is playing each note with purpose. Questions aren't evoked without answers down the line. And those answers will come when the characters or the reader need them most. It's always very well done and Warbreaker is no exception.
The characters are well developed and interesting and that sense of wanting to know where the story is going kept me interested through Lightsong and Blushweaver's banter and the scene with him and the other guys playing that game. It kept me going through Vivenna's scenes which I didn't find as interesting as Siri's scenes. I also wasn't sure I liked her companions. It felt like what those characters were doing was going to be relevant to the overall story. It was and it wasn't--it was more relevant to her character which requires liking her. I didn't dislike her but I liked Siri much better.
Brandon Sanderson is easily one of my favorite authors. He has a masterful ability to craft worlds and magical systems, and Warbreaker is no exception to this rule. However, I couldn’t help but feel that despite its realistic characters, sweet romance, and amazing magical system that this novel was missing something. I felt a disconnect with a lot of the characters and the emotional upheaval and I’m not sure why. I also struggled with the pacing of the novel.
“...BioChromatic Breath, scholars called it. Most people just called it Breath. Each person had one. Or least, that was how it usually went. One person, one Breath.”
Only Brandon Sanderson could create a believable magic system completely revolving around colors and breath, of all things. The more BioChromatic Breath a person has, the more abilities they have--these are known as Heightenings. First Heightening, grants a person the ability to see the aura of another person’s Breaths and allows them to judge how many the person has and what their general health is. This is determined by how the colors around a person change. The Second Heightening grants perfect pitch, The Third Heightening allows perfect color recognition or detection of harmonious hues, the Fourth Heightening allows maximum life senses, and the Fifth Heightening bestows resistance to aging and diseases.It is extremely rare for anyone to reach the Sixth Heightening, let alone above that. The only people ever known to read the Eighth Heightening and above are the God Kings of the colorful capital city of Hallandren, T’Telir.
I could literally spend paragraphs describing the rest of the world-building of the novel, that is how layered it is. There’s not just BioChromatic Breaths, but gods known as the Returned. These people came back from death for the express purpose of helping their people in a way unknown to even them. They are reborn without any knowledge of their past lives and preside in the court of the God King, living in luxury, fed Breath to sustain themselves, and given votes over whether or not to go to war, controlling Lifeless (people brought back from the dead with Breath and that feel no pain) armies that could decimate anything that stands in their path.
“The Hallendren need a daughter of the royal blood to reintroduce the traditional bloodline into their monarchy.”
Warbreaker centers around Siri, who is born the youngest princess of the former royal family and is exiled in the colorless city of Indris. Siri finds herself betrothed to the God King, Susebron to prevent war between these two nations with completely different religions and ways of life. Previously basking in her unimportance as the fourth child of the King, she is horrified when she is sent to T’Telir instead of her older sister Vivenna, who has trained her whole life for the express purpose of marrying the God King and convincing him not to go to war with her country. Concerned for her younger sister’s safety, Vivenna also sets out to T’Telir in the hopes of taking her rightful place as the God King’s Bride.
Probably my favorite part of Warbreaker’s narration was the juxtaposition of the two sister’s viewpoints. Siri, who was never afraid of a little color, finds herself enjoying the bright city of T’Telir and its ostentatiousness, while VIvenna is horrified at every turn by the people and their colors. Both sisters' royalty is marked by their hair that changes color with their emotions. Vivenna strives to remain strict control over her emotions and her hair, keeping it a dark brown, while Siri has always struggled to keep it one hue. Vivenna falls in with a group of mercenaries who hope to undermine Hallendran's war effort, while Siri struggles to find her place in the strange palace of the God King. Once in T’Telir, Siri is horrified to learn that she will not be granted a wedding and that she is not even allowed to speak to her husband, the God King, due to how majestic he is and that she will be ordered executed if she attempts it.
“I cannot stress this point enough. I realize that you are accustomed to being a very important person. Indeed, you still are that important--if not more so. You are far above myself and these others. However, as far as you are above us, the God King is even farther above you.”
I immediately felt like a kindred spirit with Siri, who never really fit in with her family. I enjoyed every bit of her finding her footing in T’Telier. And her relationship with Susebron, who was not at all what he appeared to be as the God King, was the highlight of the novel for me. Their sweet interaction and sincere developing regard for one another, despite the dangers of the court, was precious. However, I really wished Sanderson had spent even more time developing it. It seems it wasn’t given quite the amount of time it deserved, given everything that was at a stake for Siri and Susebron and their kingdoms respectively. As a result of this limited time, I didn’t really feel any elation when they admitted their feelings for one another .
I would have gladly traded more time with Siri and Susebron for that of the ample time with other characters. I quickly tired of Vivenna and Lightsong the God’s viewpoints, as neither character was ever very likeable. Vivenna with her holier-than-thou attitude and Lightsong with his determination to not be involved in anything of importance and with his incessant, irreverent chatter. Vivenna’s cohorts of the mercenaries also annoyed me with their constant banter about the stereotypes of mercenaries. Despite my dislike of these characters, they are fleshed out, believable, and most importantly, they grow.
But sadly, it takes a lot of schlepping through boring meetings with rebels and other Gods to get to this growth. I really struggled with the pacing of this novel and the long stretches that were from Lightsong and Vivenna’s point of views. This is the first time I felt that a Sanderson novel was long or that it was taking me awhile to “get through it.” The time dedicated to the twists at the end and the resulting setup for the next novel seemed far too short in comparison to all the time Vivenna spent trying to rebel on the streets of T’Telir and Lightsong spent figuring out what was going on in the Court and reconciling his past life with his current life and religion. And sadly, when most of this growth finally occurred, I felt indifferent and disconnected to it. I don’t know if it took too long getting there or what, but I didn’t really feel anything over events that should have caused emotions.
Despite this disconnect I felt to the characters and certain events, Warbreaker was an interesting read with it’s unique magic systems and take on Godhood, talking swords, and Lifeless armies. If readers can stick out the pacing and unlikable characters, they will be rewarded with a lot of character growth and interesting twists. Fans of Brandon Sanderson will surely enjoy this novel. Though it certainly wasn’t my favorite of his works, I will definitely still read any future sequels to this novel.
My Book Review Policy
I had quite some expectations when I started Warbreaker. Every booktuber I follow hypes up Brandon Sanderson’s books and there is a younger princess named Siri in this book, which reminded me a lot of a doll I had when I was a kid. She was a younger princess, always wanted to be the child of the family and don’t have any responsibilities, and she is very naive. Reading a book with such similarities could have been an enormous let down for me, but I was pleasantly surprised. I could see my old doll in this Siri and it made me connect with her immediately.
There were plot twists in this book that I had never expected, the story became so much more complex than I initially thought, and I loved every single character.
In a world where some people return as better forms of themselves to be able to grant one healing, many use this second chance, where they are treated as gods to indulge themselves, until one day, almost like a compulsion they use this power. Above them is the God King, who is to marry, Vivienna from another kingdom is promised to him , she has been groomed for this from birth. Her father sends the unprepared Siri, this will change the world.
Somewhat predictable, entertaining though.
With characteristic detail, Sanderson builds a wildly imaginative world in Warbreaker. Here, color and Breath is the foundation of magic. It's complicated, and the world hasn't quite figured everything out, but Sanderson avoids bogging the story down with too much explanation. It's actually a nice change from all the detailed magical fight scenes in the Mistborn series.
That leaves quite the right amount of focus on the characters and the plot, both of which are extraordinary. Sanderson has a talent for inventing cultures that push things to the extreme, and here he introduces readers to a city obsessed with attention and color that brings to mind parallels with the Hunger Games Capitol. Contrasted with the bright city, however, is a "rebel" town that values modesty, moderation, anything but standing out.
The real show is the characters, however, including the gods that the city puts on display. I admit I pretty much despise Lightsong and didn't find him funny at all. He seems to think he's witty, if annoying, but his jokes really aren't that clever. I struggled with finding him a character to root for. Many of the other characters grated on me, as well, even as I appreciated the skills with which they are draw. Siri and Vivenna, the two princesses, resonated with me better.
Warbreaker isn't my favorite book, mainly because I didn't like half the characters in it. However, it says a lot of interesting things about human nature, and I enjoyed watching various characters struggle with learning to respect the religions of others, and struggle with trying to follow their own. That, combined with a plot full of magic and intrigue, earns this four stars from me.