Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson



Goodreads: Warbreaker
Series: Warbreaker #1
Source: Purchased
Published: 2009

Official Summary

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn’t like his job, and the immortal who’s still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.

Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.

By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.


Warbreaker seems overlooked compared to Brandon Sanderson’s other books (in a very relative way, mind you; people are definitely reading it).  The fact that people seem far more obsessed with the Mistborn books, The Stormlight Archives, The Reckoners series, etc. gave me a pause, however. I wondered if Warbreaker is secretly known to be less well-written than Sanderson’s other books, and I just wasn’t in the know.  However, after reading it, I can say with sincerity that the novel fully lives up to typical Sanderson standards.

With characteristic detail, Sanderson builds a wildly imaginative world in Warbreaker.  Here, color and Breath is the foundation of magic. It’s complicated, and the world hasn’t quite figured everything out, but Sanderson avoids bogging the story down with too much explanation. It’s actually a nice change from all the detailed magical fight scenes in the Mistborn series.

That leaves quite the right amount of focus on the characters and the plot, both of which are extraordinary.  Sanderson has a talent for inventing cultures that push things to the extreme, and here he introduces readers to a city obsessed with attention and color  that brings to mind parallels with the Hunger Games Capitol.   Contrasted with the bright city, however, is a “rebel” town that values modesty, moderation, anything but standing out.

The real show is the characters, however, including the gods that the city puts on display.  I admit I pretty much despise Lightsong and didn’t find him funny at all.  He seems to think he’s witty, if annoying, but his jokes really aren’t that clever.  I struggled with finding him a character to root for.  Many of the other characters grated on me, as well,  even as I appreciated the skills with which they are drawn.  Siri and Vivenna, the two princesses, resonated with me better.

Warbreaker isn’t my favorite book, mainly because I didn’t like half the characters in it.  However, it says a lot of interesting things about human nature, and I enjoyed watching various characters struggle with learning to respect the religions of others, and struggle with trying to follow their own. That, combined with a plot full of magic and intrigue, earns this four stars from me.

4 stars Briana


20 thoughts on “Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

    • Briana says:

      I think it’s perhaps not Sanderson’s most skillfully written novel, but it’s really interesting. I thought the idea about colors and breath as magic was really cool, and I also loved all the questions it asked about religion and human nature and such. I am kind of surprised more people don’t seem to have read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Jamie Wu says:

    I think some reasons why Warbreaker is often overlooked is because a.) it’s a standalone and b.) you could actually get it for free from Sanderson’s site. Which by the way, has around 6 versions from first draft to final draft. Super cool if you want an inside look at how a master works. Though I think after Words of Radiance, Warbreaker’s status has been elevated.

    I liked Siri the best. Lightsong was one of my favorites, though I admit his antics can be irritating. But I do feel it’s a cover for his internal turmoil. I actually didn’t quite relate to Vivenna. I’m hoping the eventual sequel will help me with it. I think it’s suppose to feature Vivenna and Vasher as the main characters. And Nightblood of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana says:

      I didn’t know it was free! Unfortunately I’m not as much of a Sanderson stalker (er, fan), as I ‘d like to be, so I don’t generally know what he’s up to. I’m also a terrible literature student because I have never been interested in drafts of works of literature. If we found new drafts of all Shakespeare’s works, I wouldn’t care. I just want to read the final thing! 😛

      I liked Lightsong a little in theory, but I didn’t know if he was intentionally not witty at all or if I was supposed to actually think his remarks were clever. Because I didn’t….

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jamie Wu says:

        I’m definitely a huge Sanderson stalker. Haha. He released Warbreaker chapter by chapter as he wrote it and then posted the edited version through each revision. I totally get that, the final thing is polished and easy to consume while drafts can be a huge mess.
        I’m not too sure about Lightsong’s wittiness. I guess it’s up to our own interpretations? Personally I found them entertaining if not outright funny.


  2. Ravenclaw Book Club says:

    I haven’t seen a lot of reviews of this book! I wanna get to Mistborn first, but this is definitely on my wishlist as well. 😃


    • Briana says:

      He’s actually wildly prolific. He’s been publishing at least 1 book a year, sometimes more, recently. Often when other authors do that I think the quality of their books go down, and that’s even for authors writing middle grade and YA, which are generally not as complex as the stuff Sanderson is writing. Yet somehow he manages to do it and have it all be really good quality!


  3. Lost In A Good Book says:

    I’ve only recently started reading Sanderson books. I’m a little surprised to hear that people don’t like this one. I thought it was excellent! I loved the two girls, and actually was surprised that I liked Vivenna more. Maybe because she has such a good character arc.


    • Briana says:

      Maybe they think it just pales in comparison to his other work or something? I have no idea; I just know I haven’t seen a lot of people talking about it! But Vivenna is great!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Read Diverse Books says:

    I own all of Brandon Sanderson’s major novels. This one I’ve had for over a year now and still haven’t gotten around to it! I figure it won’t be my favorite book of his either, but I still want to read it. I want to read ALL his work.


  5. ruhenhoque says:

    For me Warbreaker was a nice break from Way of Kings, a shorter story with a satisfying conclusion.
    It was light in paces, but the magic system was interesting. I liked Denth a lot, was a really interesting character and the turnaround was also a good reveal.
    I believe Brandon Sanderson said in a Q&A that with this story he wanted to put a big emphasis on reversals and switches, which is what happened with Denth and the sisters.
    I didn’t feel to strongly towards a few characters but they played their part, and the conflicts within the story were nicely played out.


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