This book so, so, so long for me to get into it. And it particularly confused me as I read, because I felt like I knew the world in which it lay, or at least kind of did, but I was certain I’d not read this book before, and it was most assuredly a standalone novel.
After a few chapters I realized that it reminded me of other Sanderson works, specifically the two novellas he wrote based on the iOS video game Infinity Blade. Not having played the game, I have no idea how much of its mythology is manufactured by Sanderson in those stories, but it was certainly disconcerting to me, for a while at least, that so much of the book felt so familiar.
Once I got past that feeling I then had to contend with just how slow everything was, and how generally confusing. But eventually, painstakingly, the world began to captivate, and by about the 30% mark I was inhaling it, swept away on a current of magic and mayhem.
It is a tale of politics and magic and people coming back from the dead. In a divided kingdom, long-ago taken over by the “gods” who are those returned to life after death (for no discernible reason, so it must be because they are divine), two princesses and daughters of the One True King become embroiled in the difficult politics of a capital city, the gods who rule it and the priests who actually rule it. Eldest princess Vivenna has the hardest road, and learns the most, while Siri (this book predates the iPhone assistant; it was actually self-published on-line by Sanderson, one chapter at a time, in 2006) goes from much-despised sacrificial youngster to revolutionary queen with a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome.
One of the things I liked best about this book is the magic system, which is all colour-based, and while I don’t really understand it, I don’t need to, because it’s magic and that is all I need to know, as long it is consistent. (Which, here, it is.) There is also one particular pair — two “gods” of this odd earthly pantheon — whose banter is top-notch, and that really added to my enjoyment of the book, as well.
Warbreaker is far from my favourite Sanderson novel, and may actually be one of his worst, but when you’re dealing with a writer of his calibre, his worst outstrips most people’s bests by a long, long way.
Incidentally, my copy bears the legend “A Sci-Fi Essential Book”, which is weird, since a) it’s pretty obviously a Fantasy, and b) it’s not.
The reasons for this? a) Sanderson has long contended that all his works take place on different planets in the same universe, or “Cosmere”, and thus are inherently SF even if they are very much just F in their presentation; and b) it refers not to science fiction at large but to the then-Sci-Fi Channel, since between 2005 and 2010, the channel had a weird cross-promotion thing with Tor Books, which included this puzzling branding.
The more you know!
TBR DAY 146: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
TIME ON THE TBR: 10 years.
PURCHASED FROM: Minotaur, Melbourne.