Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors. I adore his characters, plotlines, and the fact that he’s created his own universe called The Cosmere in which he continuously hints at having a massive crossover. However, even favorites disappoint. That’s not to say Warbreaker wasn’t a good book, in fact, it’s probably a good first book for Sanderson newbies, but I didn’t really feel it was at his typical standard.
In a nutshell, Warbreaker was about a princess, Siri (yes, I’m serious, that’s actually her name – pretty sure it has nothing to do with the phone), from one nation sent to marry the king of another nation, who her people see as a heretic, in order to mediate peace between them. Everything that follows is simply the characters attempting to prevent a war. The story itself is fine, but the magic system he created was kind of a letdown.
Sanderson makes a really big deal of establishing complex magic systems with, usually, an equally complex set of rules. In this case, the magic involves using color to bring things to “life” through what’s called Awakening, but I think what I found disappointing was that the magic wasn’t color-based so much as color-fueled. I mean, if you’re going to use colors as an integral part of your magic, then wouldn’t you have each color (or at least primaries) have some sort of special and distinct function? Not in Warbreaker! Any color at all is simply drained away in order for “Awakeners” to breathe life into…whatever comes in handy.
I don’t know, maybe I just found it disappointing because it’s not the way I would’ve done it. The magic is still very impressive, as well as colorful, but not at all what I was expecting. Everything else was…typical Sanderson. The plot was intriguing, the characters believable, and plenty of twists, though it was a slower read for me than usual probably because of my disappointment with the magic.
Sanderson’s writing style was also a bit less engaging than usual, though I can’t quite put my finger on why. I somehow get the impression that this was a bit of a rush job that he came up with at the last minute. At the very least, though, you can tell he had fun with it and that’s all we can really ask from any writer. Of course, I had to read Warbreaker since it’s part of the Cosmere (how it ties in to everything is yet to be explained) and if he ever gets around to writing the sequel, I’ll definitely read it.
For a more in-depth (and much longer) review, check out my YouTube video here. Warning: video contains spoilers.