Rating: 4.5/5 stars
A man cannot claim to be a fantasy fan if a man hasn't read Brandon Sanderson at least once in his lifetime.
“My life to yours. My Breath become yours.”
I feel like I was dormant Before. An inanimate object patiently awaiting, until Brandon Sanderson infused my molecules with Breath, until he Awakened me and gave me senses, feelings, purpose. Ever since I finished Warbreaker, my mind floats and wanders around Cosmere, and I can't seem to find the courage nor the will to come back.
It's unsettling, but it feels right.
“Every man is a hero of his own story.”
Three centuries ago, the land of Hallandren was united. Until the Manywar erupted, the religion of the Iridescent Tones was founded and the royal line fled, creating the kingdom of Idris. Idris and Hallandren have been on the brink of armed conflict for years, but now the future of Nalthis lies in the hands of four individuals. A god who doesn't believe in his own divinity. A princess whose life goal was taken away from her. An immortal wielding a sword that leaks shadows. A princess locked in a gilded cage. And in the middle of chaos, conspiracies, backstabbings and schemes, the God King himself.
“A person knows when they’re in darkness, even when they can’t see.”
I read The Final Empire many years ago, and even though I don't remember much, I cannot forget the ingrained belief that Brandon Sanderson crafts the most intricate and imaginative worlds concerning religion, magic system, governmental structure and setting. Warbreaker is no exception. Nalthis was masterfully woven, the author spun fibers into elaborate threads, the threads turned into colorful, dazzling tapestries that stole your Breath but, instead of leaving you a Drab, you ended up absorbing more and more Breath, until your senses were hightened, your perception widened and separating yourself from the story demanded huge physical effort. While adjusting to the surroundings of Idris and Hallandren, as well as grasping the meaning of Breath and Awakening, was a timely prodecure - hence the 4.5 stars - the fact that Brandon Sanderson's talent is unrivaled remains undisputed. The pantheon of Hallandren, the foggy events and discoveries that led to the Manywar, the story of the Five Scholars, the subtle differencies between matter which is able to be Awakened, the prerogatives and limitations of being a Returned, they were not served on a silver platter; there were tidbits scattered throughout the story, keeping you alert, showing up when you needed them, guiding you to the labyrinth of the politics and hidden agendas of the Court of Gods. It was a marvelous experience.
The flow of the narration wasn't particularly fast, but it paved the road for the climax that dominated the last 100 pages and rendered you speechless, gasping like fish out of water. The plot consisted of complicated schemes, power bids and war preparations; you followed Vivenna's journey to undermine the ability of her opponents to conduct war and save her little sister; Siri on her quest to survive in a court that only needed her womb; and Lightsong the Bold on his efforts to prove that he is not worthy, that no one should depend on him, that he is a joke of a god. The plot twists were unrelenting, and occasionally painful (a moment of silence for the souls that were crushed after The Basement Scene); the revelations shocking to say the least; and the characters a rainbow of flaws, mistakes and determination.
“My dear, did you just try to prove the existence of God through the use of your cleavage?”
Lightsong the Bold truly was a multi-layered hero, and a personal favorite. His conversations with his priest, Llarimar, put a permanent smile on my face (they sounded like a couple married for years), while his exchanges with Blushweaver and the other Returned gave me headaches (unlike Lightsong, I can suffer from headaches, but those were of the good kind). He imbued the story with mirth, and his existential questions found their answers in the most astonishing manner. Siri, the reckless princess that found herself in a position of importance and great peril, had a strong arc that transformed her into a Queen; her willingness to give a chance to a culture she'd learned to hate, her compassion towards Susebron and her attempts at manipulation made her a refreshing and endearing character I came to root for. Vivenna's development was also well-portrayed; most of the time she was the pious, stiff and judgemental princess that hated being unimportant after being trained otherwise, but the struggles and heartache she faced changed her to the core, made her resilient and more open-minded, and I loved the person she became. Vasher had the martyr quality and the redemption arc I always cherish, and even though his past was hidden, and the side he worked for was a mystery for a great while, he was one of the main reasons this book was so, so good. The addition of Nightblood, the sword to destroy evil but doesn't recognize evil was a product of pure ingenuity. As for Susebron, I'm just going to say two words: soft marshmallow.
Warbreaker is an epic, all-encompassing fantasy tale that features politics, religion, magic and romance, and confirms what is already established: that Brandon Sanderson is a master of the genre.
The Way of Kings, you're next.