Review of WARBREAKER by Brandon Sanderson (see his website)
Tor, June 2009
Idris and Hallandren share a common past--and the priest who rule Hallandren have decided to bring the royal line back to Hallandren through a wedding. An Idris princess is due in Hallandren to marry the god-king of that powerful nation. Refusing to deliver on the treaty will result in war--but the king of Idris suspects war in inevitable as it is. Dare he turn over one of his daughters when he knows she can be used as a hostage against him?
As it works out, two royal princesses go to Hallandren. The younger, Siri, is sent to be the wife. The older, Vivenna, sends herself--intent on doing what she can to save her sister and to disrupt any invasion plans the Hallandren are making. Once they arrive, neither finds what they expect. Siri gradually comes to respect and even love her husband. As for Vivenna, she becomes involved in a rebel movement , but can never figure out whether she's directing it--or being used by it.
Author Brandon Sanderson (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Sanderson) creates an intriguing magical system based on 'breath,' mystical resurrection of particular dead people, along with legends of long-vanished beings who controlled such powerful magic they threatened the world with it. Sanderson has deepened his skill from earlier books, creating characters that are complex, flawed, and capable of change. In particular, Vivenna is initially annoyingly full of herself, unable to listen to others, and simultaneously confident and incompetent.
WARBREAKER is a strong effort by a maturing talent. I enjoyed the way Sanderson planted information about history, the magical system, prophesies and dreams, and then developed these, returning to them through different lights as the circumstances surrounding the story changed.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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