Spoiler Free Review
My Rating: ★★★★☆
This book has truly left an impression on me. I know I didn’t give this book a perfect rating (which I will discuss further on) but rating aside, I believe this is such a sensational fantasy book for many reasons. It has definitely made an impact on my reading and has set the bar pretty high for future fantasy books.
Warbreaker tells the story of two Idrian Princesses, Vivenna and Siri. Vivenna is in an arranged marriage via a treaty to the powerful God King who resides in Hallandren – a kingdom that couldn’t be any more different to Idris. When it comes time for Vivenna to be married, the King of Idris has a change of heart and decides Vivenna is too valuable for Idris’ future and sends his youngest and somewhat rebellious daughter Siri in Vivenna’s place.
The world of Warbreaker is narrated primarily through three perspectives, with additional chapters (but nowhere near as prominent) from secondary characters. I couldn’t imagine a better way to tell the story. Having these three particular characters narrate most of Warbreaker was fantastic as they are each essentially thrown into new situations, scenarios and surroundings. Therefore as the character learns about the world around them, the reader can come to understand the world better too.
Our first narrator is Siri, the King of Idris’ youngest child, and arguably the most mischievous one. As the youngest of four, Siri is often without responsibilities and pressure her elder siblings have. That is until she is unexpectedly sent to marry the God King in Hallandren. Secondly there is Vivenna, the eldest chid of the Idrian King. Upon finding out that she will no longer be married to the God King, Vivenna experiences a brief moment of relief, before finding out her sister Siri has been sent in her place. Vivenna feels robbed by this action, as she has spent her entire life preparing to be the perfect bride. Consequently, she secretly leaves Idris for Hallandren with plans to save her younger, more naive, sister. But her path takes a turn when she befriends a group of mercenaries. Lastly, there is the returned God, Lightsong, who simply wants leave a simple life in the palace amongst the gods. But with his kingdom potentially on the brink of war, he finds himself unwillingly drawn into the politics at court.
There is – what I consider to be very interesting – a fantastic magic system that exists within this world known as ‘Awakening.’ Just a forewarning, don’t let my explanation of this system deter you from reading, Sanderson explains it much more thoroughly (and better) than I will. Essentially every character contains a ‘BioChromatic Breath’ which draws upon colour for power. This Breath is what enables practicing mages to awaken objects. Once an object is awoken, a mage can use the object to assist them as they wish. This Breath is also transferable between people and the more Breath someone has, the powerful they are.
Warbreaker has some of the best world building in a book I have ever witnessed. Granted, the book I reader prior to this had some of the worst and perhaps I noticed this aspect more than I usually do. As someone who is easily irritated by over exposition, I was truly impressed. Sanderson executes this very cleverly. He makes it interesting for the reading, as if we’re stepping right into the protagonist’s shoes.
Unfortunately I didn’t rate this book perfectly because it did take me a while to read. It is admittedly one of the longest books I’ve read. I will contradict myself with this statement: although I loved the depth of this world, at times it did drag a little. I will say that despite it’s density it was still incredibly readable. For example, if I were to read a George R.R. Martin book, I could not pay attention if I was tired in the slightest. But despite the intricacy of the world in Warbreaker, I was still able to push through tiredness to read it.
Although I recently found out there will be a sequel to Warbreaker, this book works excellently as a standalone. I highly recommend this book to any reader who likes a slow paced high fantasy book. I would also personally say its a good entry point into Sanderson’s books