Book Review 2009 #27: Warbreaker

(NB: I received an ARC of this book as part of the Amazon Vine program)


Brandon Sanderson has slowly been building a reputation in fantasy circles, including the plum assignment and task of finishing the late Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. He has written a number of other novels as well.
Warbreaker, on the other hand, is the start of a new series for him, a new chance for his talents at secondary creation, of creating new mythologies and magic systems, “secondary world building”, to get full rein.
Warbreaker is the story of five viewpoint characters: Two sisters, Vivenna and Siri, princesses from the backcountry that have separately found themselves in the city of T’telir. the city their family once ruled. Next there is the God King of this city and kingdom, Susebron. An old contract mandates that he must marry one of the princesses and yet for all his power is a virtual prisoner in his own palace. Then there is the newly minted god Lightsong, who doesn’t like his job or even godhood much. Finally there is the mysterious Vasher who has obscure plans of his own.
Even more prominent than the characters is the magic system. In his fiction, Sanderson likes to play with different magic systems and pantheons. Magic here is based on a color-themed and informed power called Bio-Chroma. The Gods, too, also partake of this magic and its power, although in a slightly different way than ordinary practitioners of the magic art. Indeed, the nature of the Gods
Part of the joy of reading the novel is puzzling out the implications of the magic system, and how that influences characters and events.
I thought the plot and characters took a little while to really get rolling. (Although some secondary characters, a group of mercenaries that Vivenna meets, were excellent comic relief from the start) However, the final third of the novel hits on all cylinders and the promise shown earlier in the novel pays off in spades.
This novel was my first taste of Sanderson, and I think it will not be my last. I am sure that the growing ranks of his fans will be most pleased with Warbreaker.