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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Warbreaker (joint review)

by Brandon Sanderson
592 pages

*** About the Book ***

Fantasy novel are notoriously hard to summarize, especially without making them sound (to the non-fantasy reader) really stupid. But I'll do my best!

This book is about two sisters, princesses, who both end up doing things with their lives that they never expected; things that are, in fact, the exact opposite of what they expected. One ends up married to the God King of the neighboring country (a country that is intent on attacking her homeland) while the other ends up involved with a rebellion and some rather unsavory characters. Then there are the other Gods in the God King's court. Are they, in fact, divine? Or are they simply extra-special humans? Even the Gods themselves (at least some of them) aren't sure of the answer. Add in a fascinating and very inventive system of magic, and a few unforgettable characters, and you've got WARBREAKER.

*** Why I Read It ***

Now that Brandon Sanderson is completing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series (and doing a fantastic job with it!) I'm planning to read most of his original books. I loved his book ELANTRIS so when Tor Books offered me a review copy of this book I jumped at the chance to check it out.

I was thrilled that I had it in hand when I met Brandon in October - my copy is now signed! (And isn't it a gorgeous book, by the way?)

*** My Thoughts ***

Wow, this is a good book. I thought about it constantly when I wasn't reading, wondering what was going to happen next, practically counting down the minutes until I could pick it up and start reading again. Night after night I stayed up way too late reading until my eyes couldn't stay open any more (and, of course, paying for it the next morning, day after day).

As with all stand-alone fantasy novels, it took me a few chapters to immerse myself in the world the author had created, to get a feel for the "rules" of that world, but once I got there I was hooked.

In addition to a magic system that is completely different than anything I've read (and honestly, how often does that really happen?), this book has some really great characters in it; for me, they are the book's greatest strength.

I feel like I really got to know the characters and that they changed in believable ways as the book progressed. Some unexpected things happened, things that made me say "What?! NO!" But the more I thought them through, those things made complete sense based on what I knew about each of the characters. (Sorry to be so vague but I don't want to give anything away.)

A huge theme in this book is "judging" - how do you judge others? in what ways? why? are you willing to revise your judgments? if so, at what point and to what degree? how does your view of the world influence the way you view other traditions/faiths/etc.? I really enjoyed watching the characters react to their surroundings and adapt (or not) to the new things they discovered.

I don't want to say too much about what happens in this book because part of the fun is being surprised by the characters and the plot. I will tell you that Kiddo thought it was great. I didn't read it to him but he constantly asked me to summarize what I'd read recently, and he hung on to every word.

*** Suey's Thoughts ***

When Suey from It's All About Books mentioned that she wanted to read this book this year, I immediately suggested that we do a joint review. I asked her to answer a few spoiler-free questions - here's what she had to say:
  1. In one sentence tell me what you thought of this book. I thought this book was extremely imaginative, colorfully drawn and a complete page-turner.
  2. I found the characters to be the strongest part of the book; do you agree or disagree? If you agree, why? If you disagree, what was the strongest part for you? Interesting question, because when I first got done, I thought...."Wow, that was one detailed and amazing plot." But then I thought, "Wait, but the thing I loved most about it was the characters." So I think I'm agreeing with you, it was the characters that truly made this story so strong and alive.
  3. Do you like that this is a stand-alone novel or would you have preferred that it start a series? It's nice to read a fantasy sometimes knowing that you aren't necessarily committing yourself to a trilogy, or a huge series. But, wow, it sure left a lot open for the possibility of more to come, don't you think? Even if it's a stand alone now, I think if he feels the urge in the future, he can re-visit this world and tell us much much more.
  4. Did you find yourself thinking about this book when you weren't reading it or were you able to put it aside easily? Oh, I totally thought about it a lot when I wasn't reading it. It started out as my treadmill book, which was wonderful because I couldn't wait for walking each day. But I knew it would take me forever to finish it if I left it there, so then I hauled it all over with me and made the big push to finish it fast.
You can check out Suey's complete review, as well as my answers to her questions, at her blog.

*** Your Thoughts ***

So, what do you think about this book? Is it something that appeals to you? Why or why not?

Other reviews of this book that you can check out, just to get some varied opinions (but honestly, so far everyone has loved it):

*** Interesting Videos ***

For those of you who are like me and enjoy this sort of thing, here are two videos to check out.

First, Brandon talks about WARBREAKER:

And second, artist Don Dos Santos shares his progress in designing the cover illustration. I love watching this one:

Amazing, right?!


Beth F said...

I know I'm s going to have to be reading him soon (after WOT). I LOVED that video about the cover illustration. That was so well put together and amazing.

Suey said...

Great review! :) Yes, that cover video is so cool. I wonder how long in real time that took?

Ryan said...

Everyone I've talked to about this book loves it. I will have to give it a try.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Beth F - I just had to share that video - it is so much fun to watch!

Suey - I have no idea ... but thanks for reviewing this with me. I had fun with it!

Ryan G - It is so different than anything else out there, I think you'll appreciate that.

Kailana said...

I want to read this book this year, too, but the library doesn't have it and I can't decide if I want to buy it or not...

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Kailana - Ooh, I hate it when my library doesn't have a book I want! Hopefully you can get your hands on a copy ... maybe on sale? Well, we can hope! :)

Coffeegrljapan said...

this sounds like a really interesting book!

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