Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Warbreaker Warbreaker
by Brandon Sanderson

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

Another reviewer recently asked if it was even possible to come up with something new in fantasy…

Well, I can assure you that it didn’t take very long at all for Warbreaker to convince me that here was something very novel indeed. The way this world works is totally different from anything I’ve encountered before in fantasy—and I’ve read a LOT of fantasy over the years. It’s a world of colours, of Breath, of awakening, the Returned, and the Lifeless… If that sounds confusing, it’s not when you read it. Sanderson does a masterful job of introducing you to his world and making it all this strangeness make sense.

Part of this is due to the characters, who are beautifully realised, and draw the reader into their world. Mostly we see this world through the eyes of the two princesses, Vivienna the elder, and Siri the younger, and also through Lightsong the Bold, one of the Returned. One of the sisters must marry the God-King of Hallandren, and Vivienna is prepared—but at the last minute, their father decides to send Siri. Vivienna follows Siri, planning to rescue her sister. But nothing is that simple, and it gets complicated when her father’s agent in Idris dies after giving her his hoard of Breath.

I have absolutely no idea where Sanderson is coming from with this fantasy—most high fantasy is based in one historic culture and mythology or another (or some mixture). Tolkien stole heavily from Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic myth. Others have drawn on Greco-Roman or Chinese… I suppose there are hints of Egyptian here, but it’s only hints. Sanderson proves that originality really is possible in fantasy, and with that breathes new life into the genre. This is surely going to be one of the best fantasy novels of the year.

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