Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson: A Review
That having been said, let me proceed.
Wow, how to summarize this story? So much happens that, it seems, would take so much explaining.
Most of the action takes place in the colorful city of Hallandren, where the people dress extravagantly, and worship The Returned, who are "gods" that used to be people, but returned from the dead. There is a pantheon of palaces where these gods all live in seclusion, each with his or her own palace and group of priests and servants. Ruling over them all is the God King, who is a Returned who has achieved the highest level of their magic system, which revolves around the acquisition and use of Breaths.
Everyone has a Breath, which correlates to our understanding of the word Soul. A person can sell or give away his/her Breath and remain alive as a Drab, which is a person that has lost that spark that allows them to appreciate and recognize the beauty and life surrounding them. Other people can accumulate Breaths within themselves, and have their senses increasingly heightened to the point where they can distinguish and recognize the most minute changes in sound and color, as well as feel when people are near or watching them.
Taken another step further, those with a lot of Breaths can use them to Awaken inanimate objects, turning them into temporary servants. A hanging tapestry can be "Breathed" into and given a command, for example, to lift the Awakener up on top of a wall, at which point, the Awakener can recover the Breaths. A section of rope can be Breathed into and given a command to "hold when thrown", and when tossed at a person, will automatically wrap around the person, tying them up and holding them.
War has been brewing between Halladren and a rebel race of people called the Idrians, who live in the mountains. The Idrians used to rule in Hallandern long ago, but fled once the city embraced the worship of the Returned and the pagan art of Awakening. There has always been tension between them, but the Idrian King doesn't want war. He knows his kingdom would be defeated, for the Hallandrens have an army of Lifeless, which are Awakened corpses who are basically unstoppable. The King has made a treaty which involves sending one of his daughters to marry the God King of Hallandren, to grant the God King an heir and put the royal blood line back on the throne.
The time has arrived to make good his promise and send a daughter.
By the time it's said and done, plots are unraveled, betrayals made, discoveries unearthed, gods clash and everyone changes. Sanderson is ridiculously adept at crafting unique, fun characters and getting a great, deep yarn rolling until it steamrolls to it's conclusion. "Just one more chapter" was my refrain well into the wee hours for several days on end - and I loved every minute of it.
It's an easy read, yet that doesn't mean it isn't rich. It has zero profanity, and adult interactions are at most hinted at. As with the Mistborn trilogy, neither profanity nor explicit adult content are needed. The story does not skimp on blood and violence, however. The story resolves itself in one volume, yet still leaves the door open a bit for a sequel should Sanderson ever want to pursue things further.
It is a nice ride, with several storylines that weave together in a masterful, satisfying way. If I took the time to lay out all of the major players in the novel, you would glaze over.
Summary: 4.5/5 A very satisfying read.