Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson
Great concept that fell short
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.
I don’t know what it is with Brandon Sanderson books. Such great stories but, for some reason, I’m always bored. Warbreaker was another one that did this to me. Such cool characters. Such a fun world with lands in direct conflict. Such great new concepts in magic. How could it not be great? I’ll see if I can put my finger on why with this review…
Political intrigue, with subtle inter-weaving subplots that eventually meet, are things I typically enjoy (my favorite books are the Dune Saga). I don’t need constant action. I don’t need in-your-face drama, so long as it all matters in the end. In Warbreaker, I felt like it didn’t matter. Told through the eyes of a few major characters, the constant moving back and forth between perspectives was fun, imagining how it would all culminate. It didn’t.
It was enjoyable learning about BioChromatic magic and Breath, watching the learning curve of characters being in new situations, and the growth of characters unwillingly pulled into the center of world turning events. But, as they all move towards the finale, there’s just nothing. No true reveal, no action to push events towards something better, or worse. Just this empty feeling that nothing really changed, or was helped, or got better, or even a plan for any of those things.
If this book had had a simpler overall plot, I think I would have liked it much more. Individually, the characters were likable, involved in interesting stories. I did care about them all, but together, they just never created an epicness I was expecting from such a grand path.
Vivenna’s story arch was fun to read, but it seemed an overtelling of one arch to fill a book. Most of what happens to her isn’t central to the main point. Siri, whose story is at the center, never intermingles with the others like I expected it should, especially with Lightsong who seemed the ablest to change the events of the bigger picture. I don’t mind being given little nuggets of information as we go, in fact, I appreciate that kind of stroytelling, but here, there were so many things I was left unsatisfied with. Part of me feels there was supposed to be another book that might have brought this mediocre ending forward to the level it should have been, but there isn’t another book.
Though a great idea, with a creative new magic system and intriguing politics, I just maybe you already know how you feel about his kind of storytelling. Maybe you like it, so you’ll like this. Apparently, I’m just not a fan of his.
Happy reading 🙂