Thursday, January 14, 2016

Warbreaker, By Brandon Sanderson

Yay! Very happy to throw the first review of the year out there. I'm already off to a good start.

So, as a Sanderson book started last year, finished last year, and started this year, I think I need to add him to my ever-growing list of favorite authors. Once I find an author I really like, I tend to binge read a lot of their books, and with the discovery of the Cosmere, I pretty much had a whole year of catching up. I believe Warbreaker was the last Cosmere novel that I had left to read.

What's the Cosmere you ask? To put it simply, it's a universe Sanderson has created that a lot of his books take place in. They do not cross storylines, although IIRC, I read somewhere that one day they will, but for now, they are all separate stories that don't even take place on the same planet. There is a reading order to them, I believe, which I totally ignored. I didn't even know what the Cosmere was when I picked up Stormlight Archives: Way of Kings, which probably should have been the last book I read instead of the first. Reason is, there IS a crossover with a character (not storyline) that may have been more thrilling to read had I read Warbreaker first.

C'est la vie.

But I'm over it. That being said, I'll probably reread some of the more important scenes from Stormlight Archives eventually, just to refresh my memory on that one certain character since I know so much more about them now.

So, on we go. Review time. I'm going to start with the bad since it's a small nitpicky part. I did my normal half read/half listen of the book, and even though the narrator of Warbreaker was pretty decent, I was totally not in love with the Bill & Ted voice he attached to one of the characters. It was over done, imo, and forced me to the text during that character's scenes. Some people might like it, though, so that was just me. Like I said, a nitpicky detail.

As far as the book itself? Well, Warbreaker was AWESOME! Oh man, total 5 stars. One of the best "Sanderson Avalanches" I've read so far, and I think one of my favorite Sanderson books altogether, just under Stormlight and Shadows of Self.

If you've ever read a Sanderson book, Warbreaker is going to feel quite familiar starting out. The story starts slow, wrapping you up in the world building while you get to know the characters and the magic system. This system deals with 'breaths' and characters awakening objects to do their bidding. The political intrigue in the book was very captivating, and he does an excellent job of just giving enough information to draw you in and misdirect you... several times. It was beautiful!

Technically speaking, I don't feel that there were any loose ends left open that weren't obviously intentional, and honestly (fan girl that I am) I can't put my fingers on any flaws that I think should have been done differently, (like I did with Elantris). It's just remarkable storytelling and one of Sanderson's best.

Another reason why I absolutely loved reading this book was what Sanderson offered to the other writers out there. The full book is posted on his website, chapter by chapter, with annotations (much like a director's commentary) at the end of every chapter. Even as a writer myself, I can't come up with the words to convey how amazing this is for those of us struggling to better ourselves. Reading another writer's process and thoughts on a scene at this level is a tremendous help to how I view my own writing, and even confirmation for some techniques I already use. Granted, I am nowhere near Sanderson's level and might never be, but we never stop learning. Ever, and I appreciate what Sanderson has done with his book. You can find the book and his annotations here.

Because of this, Warbreaker wasn't just a book for me, it was an event in my life and career that I can always look back on.

As glowing as this review is, keep in mind that it's high fantasy, and that genre doesn't appeal to everyone. However, if you're already a Sanderson fan, or even Salvatore or Jordan, this is an absolute must read!