Author: Brandon Sanderson
Length: 688 Pages
"My life to yours. My breath become yours."
The first time I read Warbreaker, in the summer of 2014, I stayed late into the night just to finish. I will admit, the middle has some slow points that did not hold my attention as well as I would have liked on either read. But when I think back on the book, there isn't anything that I feel could be taken out. And I wanted to stay up listening to those last few hours just as I had stayed up to read them before. Alas, I did not allow myself to do so.
We follow four main characters with inner connected stories. There is Siri, who is thrown into a role she never expected and did not prepare for; Vivenna, Siri's older sister who suddenly feels useless when everything she was trained for--though not looked forward to--is stripped from; Lightsong, the god who does not believe in his own dividity; and Vasher, the man who is trying to atone for the many sins that litter his past.
Each of the four stories has their own high points. Lightsong is my favorite character of the bunch and his story is phenomenal. It's interesting to see him trying not to care, wanting to be the idle man he always says he is, and then being unable to follow through. He cares, and it's his caring, along with his sense of humor, that make him such a standout. He has some beautiful moments that I would rank among Sanderson's best.
While overall Vivenna was not my favorite perspective on either reading, her character has excellent development. I think I found her more relatable on this reading and by the end she held a much higher place in my thoughts. We watch her go from a stuck up, naive princess into something more as she allows herself to think and feel all of the things she has been suppressing in order to be the perfect Idrian.
Siri has a less dramatic character arc than her sister, but she does develop well throughout. It's fun to see her adapting to her new life and discovering that not everything she has been taught is true and not everything you see is what it seems.
Vasher has the least amount of page time, but that makes more sense as revelations are made. He's gruff and grumpy, which might be one of the things that is appealing about him. He balances out the lightheartedness of Lightsong. Plus, he has a cool sword for a companion. What's not to like about that?
Now that I've talked about the main characters, let me touch on the plot a little bit. The main focus is the conflict between two nations that used to be one. Hallandren--a nation ruled by the God King and his pantheon of Returned (Lightsong among them), and Idris--a small mountain nation ruled by a family descended from the ancient ruler of Hallandren.
The two nations are culturally and religiously different, which puts a strain on their already tenuous relationship. The marriage of the God King of Hallandren to one of the Idrian princesses causes a stir in the courts of the gods, pushing them toward war.
And, of course, on top of all this is the magic system. The magic on this world is fueled by breath (or the soul, to the Idrians) and someone with enough breath can awaken inanimate objects and command them. Along with breath, the Awakener also has to have access to color, which is used, along with the breath, to fuel awakening. I probably say this about every Sanderson magic system but--this is amazing. I loved reading about awakening and all of its rules. I hope that he does revisit this world in the future.
Overall, I enjoyed this reading as much as, if not more than, the first one. I just can't believe it took me over three years to revisit this. Sanderson's technique may have improved overall, but his characters and magic system are at their very best here.
I did this reading on audio and Alyssa Bresnahan did quite well with the story. There wasn't anything that I disliked about her narration and I thought she did an excellent job voicing certain characters. Denth and Nightblood might have been the two that I liked best.
And now, let me leave you with some Lightsong wisdom:
"Talking to you is like swimming in a river," she said. "I keep getting pulled along with the current and I'm never sure when I'll be able to take another breath."
"Watch out for the rocks, Vessel," the high priest noted. "They look rather insignificant, but have sharp edges under the surface."
"Bah," Lightsong said. "It's the crocodiles you have to watch for. They can bite. And...what exactly were we talking about, anyway?"