Book Review: Warbreaker (Warbreaker, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: Warbreaker (Warbreaker, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Warbreaker (Book #1 of 2)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy

Pages: 688 pages (US mass market paperback edition)

Published: 29th December 2011 by Gollancz (UK) & 9 June 2019 by Tor Books (US)

A colorful, vibrant, and highly character-driven standalone fantasy.

If you haven’t seen the tenth-anniversary leatherbound edition of Warbreaker, I suggest you take a look now by clicking here:

No, I don’t have one; I simply can’t afford it. However, staring at how gorgeous it is, it certainly solidified my decision to reread Warbreaker; this time with the annotated edition which I haven’t done before, and I will recommend reading this edition only if you’ve read the book before. It’s terrifying how fast time flies; I can’t believe that it has been three years since I first read this book. Warbreaker was the first book by Brandon Sanderson that I read after I finished his brilliant Mistborn trilogy. Back then, I didn’t even realize how important this standalone would become in the overarching magnitude of Sanderson’s Cosmere universe. Having read all of Sanderson’s Cosmere books and going back to this made me realize how much Sanderson has improved as an author, and how beneficial it would be to read Warbreaker first before you dive into The Stormlight Archives. Seriously, do it.

Picture: Siri and God King by Dan dos Santos

Taking place in the world of Nalthis, Warbreaker is a standalone novel within Sanderson’s Cosmere universe, since its publication and for many more years to come, it will remain standalone. The story in Warbreaker follows the tale of two sisters princesses from Idris: Siri and Vivenna. Idris is on the brink of war with Hallandren, and to prevent war from happening, the king of Idris decides to send Vivenna—who has practiced and learned the culture and religion in Hallandran for years—to marry the God King. The king couldn’t go through with it at the last minute, and send his other daughter—Siri—to marry the God-King instead. Other than Siri, Vivenna, and Susebron, we also follow two other main characters, the reluctant god of bravery Lightsong the Bold, and a mysterious swordsman with a sentient sword, Vasher and Nightblood.

Picture: Vasher and Vivenna by Dan dos Santos

Sanderson takes his time here. Warbreaker is mostly paced like the second book of Mistborn trilogy, The Well of Ascension. It’s slow-paced, and I thank Sanderson for it. Sanderson slowly and gradually builds up the tension of the storyline while making sure each main characters receive proper development and distinctive voices first. Contrast and differences in perspectives are a very huge driving factor of the story here. Sanderson himself has mentioned that Warbreaker is a book with many tone; this is also what made Warbreaker so good to read. An event, even when they’re witnessed together, can be perceived very differently depending on where you stand; everyone justifies their actions through the belief that they’re truly doing what’s best for themselves and society. The clash of opinions and beliefs the kind of theme constantly explored in this book, and it also made the characters more colorful in personality.

“Every man is a hero of his own story.”

I have always loved Sanderson’s characterizations, and Warbreaker contained, in my opinion, some of his most distinctive characters so far. Siri, Vivenna, Lightsong, Vasher, Nightblood, Susebron, and Denth respectively differ in key personality, and I enjoyed reading their progression immensely. Almost all of the chemistry between the characters in this novel comes in two; Siri with Susebron, Vivenna with Denth or Vasher, Lightsong with Blushweaver or Larimar, and Vasher with Nightblood. The development and the interactions of these characters made the book for me; they felt so natural. The romance development between Siri and God-King, in particular, was endearing and it felt very genuine. Warbreaker is a very heavily character-driven book, which luckily is my favorite type of narrative to read, and these characters have so much to love and for me to feel invested in. I honestly wish the sequel would be published already because I want to know more about them.

Picture: Blushweaver and Lightsong by Miranda Meeks

Also, I would like to give a suggestion. If you haven’t read any of Sanderson’s book in his Cosmere universe, Warbreaker would be a great book for you to start your adventure. I usually recommend readers to start with Mistborn trilogy, but if you find the idea of going through a 1500+ pages long series daunting, Warbreaker should be a safer choice. I don’t think you should worry too much about it though, Sanderson has one of the most accessible prose in the genre, and he knows how to write impactful scenes without relying on “beautiful” writing style. His prose allows him to tell a high fantasy story that’s accessible to many readers around the world, and I believe this is one of the many reasons why his books are so damn successful. The internal thoughts of characters were always well-delivered; the dialogues and banter were incredibly entertaining and fun to read. More than any other book in the Cosmere universe, Warbreaker is most likely the one that relies on banter and dialogues the most. Pretty much every appearance that involved Lightsong was utterly delightful to read.

“I swear, my dear. Sometimes our conversations remind me of a broken sword.”

She raised an eyebrow.

“Sharp as hell,” Lightsong said, “but lacking a point.”

Excluding the vivid and cinematic quality that came from the writing, one of the most important aspects and enhancement that came from Sanderson’s accessible prose would be the ease delivery of the staple hard magic system that’s clearly in play here. Designing an intricate and unique magic system is one of Sanderson’s main talents as an author and storyteller. I won’t even bother to explain to you the in-depths complexity of the magic system in Warbreaker that is called Awakening. The basic explanation for how it works is that Awakeners are capable of combining colors, BioChromatic Breath, and a Command to animate an object. This, however, doesn’t begin to touch the surface of the complexity and intricacies of the magic system. Sanderson ramp up the intensity of the story progressively, eventually leading it all towards the staple “Brandon Avalanche” conclusion in the final ten percent of the book.

Picture: Vasher and Nightblood by Micah Epstein

I loved Warbreaker, not a surprise there. I would devour its sequel—currently Nightblood is the title—immediately when it’s out. From what I’ve gathered in the most recent State of Sanderson in 2019, there’s a good chance that we won’t see any continuation to this novel until—at least—2025, that’s sixteen years since Warbreaker was first published; it sounds ridiculously long but that’s just how things work in Sanderson’s multi-volume Cosmere universe. Not only Warbreaker is a wonderful standalone, but it’s also filled with well-realized characters that made the multitude of story elements such as mystery, politics, actions, romance, and intricate magic systems worked. Color me impressed once again, Sanderson. Your book left me breathless on my first read, and it continues to be breathtaking on reread.

Yes, I’ll let myself out now.

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Warbreaker (Warbreaker, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

  1. I don’t know that the man is capable of writing a ‘bad’ book, but this was definitely one of my favorites. He keeps talking about a sequel, which would be cool, but I kind of like this as a standalone.

    1. I know right? I haven’t read any of his non-adult fantasy books, but from what I’ve heard, it seems like he’s doing well in all other genre too. I loved Warbreaker! I hope the sequel will come eventually, but as you said, I think if it stays as a standalone I would be happy with it too! 🙂

  2. Oh I read this one a couple of months back, and I loved it so much! Definitly one of my favourite books of this year!


    1. Woohoo! Glad you loved it that much, Evelyn! This is a reread and I loved it as much as I did the first time! 🙂

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