So at the beginning of the pandemic when I first discovered Booktube (actually, when I found 2 people who talked about books on YouTube and didn’t yet know it was a thing), I noticed how both of them loved this completely random guy, but I didn’t know if I’d like fantasy. I don’t know why I thought it was supposed to be such an intimidating genre, it was just not what I’d been used to reading. Anyway, Emily Fox suggested to start with Warbreaker, since Sanderson has it available for free on his website, so I thought I might as well try, right? No risk, high reward.
Well, that’s great in theory and all, but turns out he actually has various versions of the books drafts available and it was just too confusing for little old me. Because I am clearly an idiot, I accidentally downloaded one of the drafts instead and read Draft 4 (or maybe it was draft 3?) of Warbreaker. And I liked it very much.
Don’t get me wrong, I was thoroughly confused about the concept of a hard magic system (what do you mean you use colors to bring things to life? where are the witches with their magic wands and their BibidiBobidyBoos?), but even with half of it going over my head, it was still an easy 4 stars.
So when I found myself in a slightly slump-ish mood a week ago, I decided it was time for read of the actual final book (and I got it on audio). I’m considering it a re-read, mostly, but as this was read in a year when I was not doing CBR, I thought I might as well review it here.
Very quick non-spoilery (but opinion-heavy) synopsis of this book:
Vivenna, the eldest princess of the exiled royal family is betrothed the “returned” God-King of Hallandren as a means to avoid war, and has been preparing for it all her life. But tensions are rising and the old King decides he loves his perfect daughter too much to send her to her possible death, so he sends in Siri, her little sister instead. Yes, you heard it right: he sends in his 17-year-old unprepared daughter to marry a man he considers to be an abomination (he’s basically a zombie if you’re to believe the old royal religion) because he loves his older daughter more. You know, a royal dick move if I’ve ever seen one.
So then Vivenna, who feels slighted and is the single most self-absorbed character I’ve ever seen in any book decides she needs to follow and somehow “save her sister”, because that was supposed to be her sacrifice. *facepalm*
Meanwhile in the Royal Court in Hallandren, Lightsong – one of the returned Gods -, does not believe in his own religion and is doing his best to be completely shallow and useless. But the arrival of the new queen is making it very hard for people to stop bringing up pesky subjects such as politics into conversations, and he is not amused (though I am).
I think that covers the basics: Siri is terrified, Vivenna is stupid, Lightsong is hilarious and full of ennui, and no one speaks to the God King because he’s just too important for that… oh, and there’s a talking sword! Go! Enjoy!
So first of all, I have learned I LOVE hard magic systems. I feel like restricting the characters to very strict rules gives the story stakes and I’m here for it. And man, is Sanderson good at worldbuilding and hard magic systems.
Sanderson is not quite as awesome at the character side of this book, but it was still quite okay. I loved Siri and Lightsong, and enjoyed both their arcs immensely. On the other hand, as you might have noticed, I wanted to bitchslap Vivenna. so. much. I mean, how stupid can an arguable smart girl be? and I’m not sure any arc would be enough to redeem her in my eyes. The side-characters were also mostly fun, if not really layered, but that’s also fine.
Finally, the plot is really good, as I’ve come to expect from him. He somehow manages to have satisfying endings which are not at all what I was expecting (though not quite as good as the ending to Mistborn – that was chef’s kiss)
So overall I guess I think everyone should read this? Yes, that’s my conclusion. This re-read was a 5 star and I think you should go read it too.