All is not what it seems in Hallandren, Sanderson’s highly imagined Kingdom that has been on the brink of war with its neighbor, Indris for generations. A Princess of Indris’ hand in marriage has been promised to the God-King of Hallandren, in order to avert the war for at least some time. From the outset Warbreaker twists and turns all expectations, with its tightly woven plot, and reoccurring role reversals. Intricate politics, lazy gods, zombie-like soldiers, a magical sword with blood lust, and a damn-fine love story elevate Warbreaker into Epic Fantasy, whilst maintaining an intimate feel.
The characters start out a little too cliché, but they quickly develop into people you care for. Warbreaker’s greatest strength is the lore, as Sanderson’s flair for creating a wholly original magical system is unmatched with anything I’ve read in recent years. One of the main, and most interesting concepts is the BioChromatic magic, or breaths, which is the ability for one to impart a piece of themselves onto an object to animate it. I was disappointed a little that the magic system didn’t have more to do with color, but the gathering of breaths and the way they are used, more than made up for my preconceived notions. I also enjoyed the so-called Gods, especially Lightsong as I couldn’t wait for his snarky perspective to pop in. A surprisingly quick read at nearly 600 pages, and when I got to page 500 I didn’t know how everything could be tied-up in less than 100 pages, yet somehow Sanderson manages to bring it together with all the major plot threads are answered.
The only thing that bothered me a little was guessing early what would happen with the God King near the end. Some Fantasy readers may be disappointed that more action doesn’t happen as giant battles are not the du jour, but rather more of the sneak, slash, and run variety.
This is my first Sanderson read, but it certainly will not be the last. Sanderson has managed the amazing feat of making classic-style Epic Fantasy new to me again. Although written as a standalone, Sanderson has left the well open for much more and has indicated he is probably not done with this world. A follow-up may be years off since he has to finish WOT, and he just signed a 5 book deal for his next big Epic Fantasy series. Warbreaker is Epic Fantasy at its finest and I’ll be there for a second helping when it is served.
Working in collaboration with Jodie Loves Books