Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Book Review: Warbreaker

"Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson
The story follows two sisters, Vivenna and Siri. Both royalty from one kingdom, who are thrust into another kingdom during a time of major political upheaval. They both have to struggle as their cultures, morals, and ideals are all twisted and turned inside out. They are forced to view their old kingdom and this new one in a different light from what they’d always been told, and decide what to believe, and who’s side they really are on and why. Through all this both girls grow and change in their new environments, realizing that not everything is as it seems and you can’t trust anyone!
Sanderson’s LDS (Mormon) upbringing really shines in this novel, particularly from the girl’s perspective and their obsession with maintaining modesty. He’s spoken of this before in his podcast “Writing Excuses” and it’s very understandable that ones religious views would make it into a novel like this.
 Because of that I have have to give kudos pushing the boundaries of his moral code in this novel. There were a few scenes that really made you think about how, despite how moral of a life you might lead, there are times when none of that matters, and survival, no matter how debasing it might be to yourself, is of utmost importance. While reading it I imagined Sanderson writing these parts and having a tough time with how he treated things. I think he did a wonderful job.
Some minor quibbles. I felt the character Jewels could have been fleshed out a little more. She played a minor role in explaining one aspect of the story, but I felt like she was thrown in just for that purpose. She has a story, I would have loved to hear more of it.
Their modesty obsession turned me off from the story quite a bit, but I don’t think most people would notice unless they understood (and didn’t care for) this aspect of the LDS religion. It felt unduly pushed in the first half of the book until the girls got over it. As much as it may have irritated me, I really liked how the girls got over their moral issues and dealt with actual issues at hand.
All in all this is a wonderful political fantasy novel. It took me a bit to get into it, as the magic system of colors and breaths is a little confusing at first, but eventually you get it enough that you can get into the storyline. Once I fully understood the system I really enjoyed it. I felt it was robust and imaginative.
This was the first Sanderson novel I’ve read and I will be definitely purchasing the rest of his novels if this is any indication of the quality and depth of his characters and story. I commend him on making this novel available online in pdf format for free (this is how I read it). 

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