Friday, January 27, 2012

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it's a dorky cover.
Read it anyway.
I love character-driven novels which means that I don't always get along with fantasy and sci-fi, especially when the world building takes over to the point of leaving out any sort character growth.  I've found some authors do a great job of not only creating fascinating and believable worlds, but populate them with characters who have motivations and foibles and a sense of humor (I'm looking at you, Lois McMaster Bujold and Garth Nix).  However, many authors in those genres place their entire emphasis on world building and that bores me to tears.

Brandon Sanderson, however, has earned my undying affection.  I have to admit that I came to him reluctantly.  A friend (whom I should trust--she never steers me wrong) recommended it.  But, I knew that he is taking over Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series which is hugely intimidating to me, so any author that would be working on it falls outside of my comfort zone.

Let me say, I was wrong to the point of now being willing to try the Wheel of Time series (once it's completed).

Warbreaker is awesome.  There's an interesting political structure and theology which intertwine leading to all sorts of mysterious and surprising interactions between the deities, the priests, and the commoners.  But even more intriguing, to me anyway, are the main characters.

Siri and Vivenna are sisters from the quiet kingdom of Idris.  From birth, Vivenna has known that she is going to have to leave for the bustling (not to mention corrupt) kingdom of Hallandren to marry the God King.  She's ready for it.  She's been training.  Except--her dad decides to send her little sister Siri instead because he can't stand the idea of sending Vivenna away.

So, we have Siri's journey and how she turns from an irresponsible and impulsive young girl to a politically savvy wife of a God King.  And we have Vivenna's transformation from the haughty princess to the fearless renegade who goes off to rescue her younger sister.  Both women change and grow throughout the course of the novel and make startling realizations about themselves, their beliefs, their own people and their religion.  Good stuff!

To make matters more interesting, we get to hear from some of the gods.  Apparently, if someone dies in an honorable way, they are sometimes "Returned" as gods.  So, we have Lightsong the Bold, who has the grave misfortune of not believing in the very religion he represents.  He doesn't believe he should be worshiped because he doesn't view himself worthy.  So he sits around mocking himself and his priests and the other gods all day.  Until there's a mystery to be solved. . .

In addition to the great characters, there were so many unexpected twists and turns.  I could not predict what would happen next and when they did happen, I should have seen them coming a mile away.  Sanderson plants excellent clues throughout.  Best of all, he ties up all the loose ends.  Things that happen near the very beginning and you think are mere peripherals end up having a definite role in what goes down at the end.

Anyways, ignore the goofy book jacket on this one and read it--you'll love it!


  1. I don't normally like genre stuff for the reasons you mentioned, but you sold me on trying this. Thanks!

  2. Yeah, I'm pretty selective about the fantasy/sci-fi that'll I read. Amber always gives me really good recommendations in that area.