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Thursday, August 13, 2009

“Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Brandon Sanderson Website
Order "Warbreaker" HERE

Book & Author Information
: Warbreaker is the 7th publication by Brandon Sanderson since his debut in 2005. After the standalone first novel he completed a trilogy, and has written 2 books in a YA series.

Warbreaker
was a special effort for the author as he has released previous editions of it online as he revised them. In fact he even released the final edition online around the official store release of the novel. This book is a standalone set in a different world than his previous novels.

The Tor HC edition is 592 pages long and features 58 chapters with a prologue & epilogue & an "Ars Arcanum" in which details about the Bichromatic magic system is given. There is also a map provided.

On an another side note, "Warbreaker" has probably one of the most beautifully painted covers ever seen on a speculative fiction book & for those interested in seeing more about the cover, you can check it out over HERE.

Overview/Analysis:

The book features four primary character & all the chapters are via their third person POVs. The main characters are:

Lightsong, a God who resides in T'Telir, capital city of Hallandren. A God who doubts his presence & the theology associated with him & his' ilk's presence.

Siri, third princess of Idris & surprise choice for being the bride to the God King Susebron of Hallendren. She is shown to be struggling to fit the role she has been given

Vivenna, first princess of Idris & original choice for being the God king's bride. She is left bereft after her younger sister is sent instead of her & decides to go to her sister's aid.

Vasher, the most suspicious of characters, whose motivations & plans aren't clear & who may be plotting the downfall of all involved.

The book takes place in a world where the magic system is dependent on One's breath & colors around in the environment. After Elantris & The Mistborn trilogy, Brandon Sanderson has come up with another fascinating magic system called BioChromatic which though chronological in its power ascendancy is very amazing to read about. I believe creating detailed worlds & intriguing magic systems in a highlight of Sanderson's writing & he might be rivaled by only a select handful when it comes to the fantastical magic system aspect.

The intrigue in this book begins when a different princess is sent to be the bride. Siri has never been trained for the role & struggles to accept her new position; another troubling fact is that her hair changes color with her moods & this makes it very difficult to be stone-faced in the political machinations of the God King's court. Lightsong is a God who is bored with his courtly position & always doubts the theological aspect of his existence as he cannot remember his life before & needles his chief priest Llarimar about the implied fallacies.

Vivenna is the rebuffed princess who has been trained for the bride role since her childhood but finds out that she has no other role in her life after her sister is sent in her place & then decides to follow her & rescue her from the horrible mess she has been placed in. She does join two mercenaries Denth & Tonk Fah whose comradely banter will often leave the readers chuckling.

Lastly is the enigmatic Vasher who flaunts a black Sword which voices its opinion akin to another famous ebony blade named Stormbringer. He tries his best to remain unseen & his movements & actions will leave the readers wondering as to who he is eventually & what is his final plan.

The author has created a wonderful mystery within this fantasy. The primary issue over here is the stopping of the eventual war between Hallandren & Idris. While some characters are working to avert it, some work towards it & a couple of them do things which seem to defy logic as to what will be the result of their actions. The book is another typical Brandon Sanderson book as he builds the tension slowly & sets up the cascade of events to give us the surprising conclusion to this tale. I admire him for his innovative magic systems as well as his ability to constantly give readers a different story from his previous books & since this book is like a counterfoil to the story told in Elantris, comparison will be inevitable.

"Warbreaker" is slightly inferior to Elantris when it comes to the ending & the solving of the mystery involved. Also there is a lot of back history to this world which is not sufficiently revealed in this book which might be due to its standalone nature. The story takes time to settle in as the first 100 pages are taken to set up the situation and give us the background; this is a bit weird as his stories often get to a fast start and lag in the middle before rushing to the finish, however in this book it's the start which lags a bit however after the first 80-90 pages the story picks up & then speeds along nicely towards the ending keeping the reader engrossed.

The biggest disappointment for me regarding this book was the eventual mystery behind the actual happenings in the book. It felt a bit too easy and though offering complete closure to the story began in this book leaves a single thread open which can used to become a sequel.

In the end I would sincerely recommend this title to any reader who's looking for a straight forward fantasy read vis-à-vis interesting characters & a colorful magic system to say the least. The advantage of it being a standalone is that the there is closure to the story, not that there would be any problems if it were a series as a writer as prolific as Sanderson could be trusted to provide the sequels in a timely manner as his track record suggests.

6 comments:

Fabio Fernandes said...

Nice review, Mihir! I´m starting to read it too - was going to review it here as well, but you beat me to it. :-)

The Reader said...

Hi Fabio

Thank you, I hope you enjoy it as well, Looking forward to your thoughts on it as well.

Mihir

Anonymous said...

SPOILER

SPOILER

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There isn't only one open thread. I suppose that you were referring to the reappearance of Yesteel, but there are a few other things who could be explored: first, Tonk Fah and Jewels escaped and there's something untold about Clod, his relationship with Jewels and his behaviour towards Vivenna (a couple of scenes when Vivenna feels that there's something strange in him), second, it'd be interesting to see the aftermath of the disruption in the Court of the Gods (two Gods dead, pretty much all the God King's priesthood destroyed, ant at the end of the book Susebron has become the first 'active' God King in history). Then the world backstory is all but clear, for example there is no explanation of what really happened with the whole Five Scholars/Usurper business, or of the meddling of the royal family with Awakening. Moreover, we only know the Idris variant of Austrism, and it's strongly hinted that it's very different from the original religion, and speaking of religion did you notice that every time a character is going to explain the Pahn Kahl beliefs something interrupt him?

SPOILER

SPOILER

SPOILER

SPOILER

bks2plz said...

I see you love to read. Looking for a great book?
I would like to invite you to read my new fantasy novel, "Gateway to DreamWorld."

It has just been listed on Amazon.com and Barnes&Nobles.com

I would love to get your review of my first novel.
Brenda Estacio

The Reader said...

@ Anonymous

Thanks for putting the spoiler warnings, yes there are many things which cold be explored in the future however Brandon on his forums had written that the next book in this Duology-to-be will be the final book & will focus on the single aspect which is discussed by 2 of the primary characters at the very end of the novel... namely the journey to other lands. Though it will be great of we do get a better idea about the events mentioned by you.

I didn't notice that about Pahn Kahl but thats a great observation :)

Mihir

Matthew said...

Good review. I'm three years late to it, but I just came across the site and wanted to read a review of a book I'd actually read. Since none of my friends or family have read anything by Sanderson yet, it's great to see someone else who enjoys his writing.

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