In my year reading Brandon Sanderson, I started with one of his standalone novels, “Warbreaker”. Doing these “My Year With…” series is tough, I never quite know where to start. My friend Mark had this book and suggested it, so I took it, read it and was enthralled.
The plot, as summarized by wikipedia:
Warbreaker tells the story of two princesses, Vivenna and Siri. Vivenna was contracted through treaty to marry the God-King of rival nation Hallendren. Instead Siri is sent to meet the treaty. Vivenna then follows to Hallendren in hopes of saving Siri from her fate. Both sisters become involved in intrigues relating to an imminent war between their home nation of Idris and Hallendren
Every single fantasy author has one major thing going against them: the magic system of their universe. Why against? Because there is so much assumed by their audiences, there is so much history to ‘magic’ and how to do it and what makes it work. In this regard Sanderson stands out like a beacon of fresh winter light. The magic system in “Warbreaker” is delightful and has a depth to it that Sanderson just barely scrapes the surface of. Some of the interactions in the book give you great hints that Sanderson has tomes of history on the magic system just sitting on his shelves waiting to be shared. It was a joy to read!
The characters themselves were also a joy to get to know. It’s rare for me to have a standalone novel that makes me want to know more about that world/universe. Even Neil Gaiman’s or China Mieville’s books are so complete in and of themselves that I was satisfied at the end of each. “Warbreaker” did not leave me entirely satisfied, a rare gift.
If you enjoy the fantasy genre, specifically the more traditionally crafted fantasy novels, then “Warbreaker” is a must read and will definitely delight (and disappoint if you want more from that world).