Epic fantasy heavyweight Sanderson (the Mistborn series) pens a powerful stand-alone tale of unpredictable loyalties, dark intrigue and dangerous magic. To keep a treaty made long ago, the king of Idris must send his daughter to marry Susebron, the God King of Hallandren. Loath to part with his eldest daughter, Vivenna, King Dedelin instead sends his youngest daughter, tomboyish 17-year-old Siri, who struggles to make sense of the schemers and spies in Susebron's court. Hoping to rescue her sister, Vivenna joins a group of Idrian operatives with questionable motives. As Vivenna comes to terms with her magical abilities, resurrected hero Lightsong questions the role of the undead Returned Gods, who command Hallandren's mighty army of zombie soldiers. Sanderson melds complex, believable characters, a marvelous world and thoughtful, ironic humor into an extraordinary and highly entertaining story. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The colorful new vision from fantasy's master of magic
Confined to the capital city of the Kingdom of Halloran, dead humans reborn as gods rule under the auspices of the all-powerful and enigmatic God King. But two sisters-one born to a political marriage to the God King, the other left to make her own, undisciplined path-become the fulcrum for a possible bloody and disastrous war. Chosen by the estate of the late Robert Jordan to complete the final volume in Jordan's mammoth "Wheel of Time" series, Sanderson again demonstrates his capacity for handling large and complex themes while creating believable characters. He also succeeds at building a unique fantasy environment, in which color and "Breath" are the basis for magic. This series opener is essential reading for fantasy fans.
“Not only has Sanderson drawn a freshly imagined world and its society, he has also given us a plot full of unexpected twists and turns. . . . Anyone looking for a different and refreshing fantasy novel will be delighted by this exceptional tale of magic, mystery and the politics of divinity. Warbreaker might even take your breath away.” Michael Moorcock
“Epic fantasy heavyweight Sanderson pens a powerful stand-alone tale of unpredictable loyalties, dark intrigue and dangerous magic. . . . Sanderson melds complex, believable characters, a marvelous world and thoughtful, ironic humor into an extraordinary and highly entertaining story.” Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Warbreaker
“Sanderson again demonstrates his capacity for handling large and complex themes while creating believable characters.” Library Journal (starred review) on Warbreaker
“Hilarious dialogue, descriptive action sequences, and genuinely sweet romance. . . . Sanderson knows how to wrap things up cleanly. He spins a world that's easily complex and mysterious enough to warrant sequels, but prefers to end it climactically, answering many of his biggest questions, while leaving others to the imagination.” The Onion on Warbreaker
“Sanderson is clearly a master of large-scale stories, splendidly depicting worlds as well as strong female characters. . . . May the author write long and prosper.” Booklist on Warbreaker
“A highly readable and compelling stand-alone volume from the acclaimed author of the Mistborn trilogy. . . . Highly recommended to fans of epic fantasy.” The Romantic Times BOOKreviews 4 ½ Stars TOP PICK!
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Read an Excerpt
By Brandon Sanderson, Moshe Feder
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2009 Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLC
All rights reserved.
Annotations to Chapter One
There were great advantages to being unimportant.
True, by many people's standards, Siri wasn't "unimportant." She was, after all, the daughter of a king. Fortunately, her father had four living children, and Siri—at seventeen years of age—was the youngest. Fafen, the daughter just older than Siri, had done the family duty and become a monk. Above Fafen was Ridger, the eldest son. He would inherit the throne.
And then there was Vivenna. Siri sighed as she walked down the path back to the city. Vivenna, the firstborn, was ... well ... Vivenna. Beautiful, poised, perfect in most every way. It was a good thing, too, considering the fact that she was betrothed to a god. Either way, Siri—as fourth child—was redundant. Vivenna and Ridger had to focus on their studies; Fafen had to do her work in the pastures and homes. Siri, however, could get away with being unimportant. That meant she could disappear into the wilderness for hours at a time.
People would notice, of course, and she would get into trouble. Yet even her father would have to admit that her disappearance hadn't caused much inconvenience. The city got along just fine without Siri—in fact, it tended to do a little better when she wasn't around.
Unimportance. To another, it might have been offensive. To Siri it was a blessing.
She smiled, walking into the city proper. She drew the inevitable stares. While Bevalis was technically the capital of Idris, it wasn't that big, and everyone knew her by sight. Judging by the stories Siri had heard from passing ramblemen, her home was hardly even a village compared with the massive metropolises in other nations.
She liked it the way it was, even with the muddy streets, the thatched cottages, and the boring—yet sturdy—stone walls. Women chasing runaway geese, men pulling donkeys laden with spring seed, and children leading sheep on their way to pasture. A grand city in Xaka, Hudres, or even terrible Hallandren might have exotic sights, but it would be crowded with faceless, shouting, jostling crowds, and haughty noblemen. Not Siri's preference; she generally found even Bevalis to be a bit busy for her.
Still, she thought, looking down at her utilitarian grey dress, I'll bet those cities have more colors. That's something I might like to see.
Her hair wouldn't stand out so much there. As usual, the long locks had gone blond with joy while she'd been out in the fields. She concentrated, trying to rein them in, but she was only able to bring the color to a dull brown. As soon as she stopped focusing, her hair just went back to the way it had been. She'd never been very good at controlling it. Not like Vivenna.
As she continued through the town, a group of small figures began trailing her. She smiled, pretending to ignore the children until one of them was brave enough to run forward and tug on her dress. Then she turned, smiling. They regarded her with solemn faces. Idris children were trained even at this age to avoid shameful outbursts of emotion. Austrin teachings said there was nothing wrong with feelings, but drawing attention to yourself with them was wrong.
Siri had never been very devout. It wasn't her fault, she reasoned, if Austre had made her with a distinct inability to obey. The children waited patiently until Siri reached into her apron and pulled out a couple of brightly colored flowers. The children's eyes opened wide, gazing at the vibrant colors. Three of the flowers were blue, one yellow.
The flowers stood out starkly against the town's determined drabness. Other than what one could find in the skin and eyes of the people, there wasn't a drop of color in sight. Stones had been whitewashed, clothing bleached grey or tan. All to keep the color away.
For without color, there could be no Awakeners.
The girl who had tugged Siri's skirt finally took the flowers in one hand and dashed away with them, the other children following behind. Siri caught a look of disproval in the eyes of several passing villagers. None of them confronted her, though. Being a princess—even an unimportant one—did have its perks.
She continued on toward the palace. It was a low, single-story building with a large, packed-earth courtyard. Siri avoided the crowds of haggling people at the front, rounding to the back and going in the kitchen entrance. Mab, the kitchen mistress, stopped singing as the door opened, then eyed Siri.
"Your father's been looking for you, child," Mab said, turning away and humming as she attacked a pile of onions.
"I suspect that he has." Siri walked over and sniffed at a pot, which bore the calm scent of boiling potatoes.
"Went to the hills again, didn't you? Skipped your tutorial sessions, I'll bet."
Siri smiled, then pulled out another of the bright yellow flowers, spinning it between two fingers.
Mab rolled her eyes. "And been corrupting the city youth again, I suspect. Honestly, girl, you should be beyond these things at your age. Your father will have words with you about shirking your responsibilities."
"I like words," Siri said. "And I always learn a few new ones when Father gets angry. I shouldn't neglect my education, now should I?"
Mab snorted, dicing some pickled cucumbers into the onions.
"Honestly, Mab," Siri said, twirling the flower, feeling her hair shade a little bit red. "I don't see what the problem is. Austre made the flowers, right? He put the colors on them, so they can't be evil. I mean, we call him God of Colors, for heaven's sake."
"Flowers ain't evil," Mab said, adding something that looked like grass to her concoction, "assuming they're left where Austre put them. We shouldn't use Austre's beauty to make ourselves more important."
"A flower doesn't make me look more important."
"Oh?" Mab asked, adding the grass, cucumber, and onions to one of her boiling pots. She banged the side of the pot with the flat of her knife, listening, then nodded to herself and began fishing under the counter for more vegetables. "You tell me," she continued, voice muffled. "You really think walking through the city with a flower like that didn't draw attention to yourself?"
"That's only because the city is so drab. If there were a bit of color around, nobody would notice a flower."
Mab reappeared, hefting a box filled with various tubers. "You'd have us decorate the place like Hallandren? Maybe we should start inviting Awakeners into the city? How'd you like that? Some devil sucking the souls out of children, strangling people with their own clothing? Bringing men back from the grave, then using their dead bodies for cheap labor? Sacrificing women on their unholy altars?"
Siri felt her hair whiten slightly with anxiety. Stop that! she thought. The hair seemed to have a mind of its own, responding to gut feelings.
"That sacrificing-maidens part is only a story," Siri said. "They don't really do that."
"Stories come from somewhere."
"Yes, they come from old women sitting by the hearth in the winter. I don't think we need to be so frightened. The Hallandren will do what they want, which is fine by me, as long as they leave us alone."
Mab chopped tubers, not looking up.
"We've got the treaty, Mab," Siri said. "Father and Vivenna will make sure we're safe, and that will make the Hallandren leave us alone."
"And if they don't?"
"They will. You don't need to worry."
"They have better armies," Mab said, chopping, not looking up, "better steel, more food, and those ... those things. It makes people worry. Maybe not you, but sensible folk."
The cook's words were hard to dismiss out of hand. Mab had a sense, a wisdom beyond her instinct for spices and broths. However, she also tended to fret. "You're worrying about nothing, Mab. You'll see."
"I'm just saying that this is a bad time for a royal princess to be running around with flowers, standin' out and inviting Austre's dislike."
Siri sighed. "fine, then," she said, tossing her last flower into the stewpot. "Now we can all stand out together."
Mab froze, then rolled her eyes, chopping a root. "I assume that was a vanavel flower?"
"Of course," Siri said, sniffing at the steaming pot. "I know better than to ruin a good stew. And I still say you're overreacting."
Mab sniffed. "Here," she said, pulling out another knife. "Make yourself useful. There's roots that need choppin'."
"Shouldn't I report to my father?" Siri said, grabbing a gnarled vanavel root and beginning to chop.
"He'll just send you back here and make you work in the kitchens as a punishment," Mab said, banging the pot with her knife again. She firmly believed that she could judge when a dish was done by the way the pot rang.
"Austre help me if Father ever discovers I like it down here."
"You just like being close to the food," Mab said, fishing Siri's flower out of the stew then tossing it aside. "Either way, you can't report to him. He's in conference with Yarda."
Siri gave no reaction—she simply continued to chop. Her hair, however, grew blond with excitement. Father's conferences with Yarda usually last hours, she thought. Not much point in simply sitting around, waiting for him to get done ...
Mab turned to get something off the table, and by the time she looked back, Siri had bolted out the door and was on her way toward the royal stables. Bare minutes later, she galloped away from the palace, wearing her favorite brown cloak, feeling an exhilarated thrill that sent her hair into a deep blond. A nice quick ride would be a good way to round out the day.
After all, her punishment was likely to be the same either way.
* * *
Dedelin, king of Idris, set the letter down on his desk. He had stared at it long enough. It was time to decide whether or not to send his eldest daughter to her death.
Despite the advent of spring, his chamber was cold. Warmth was a rare thing in the Idris highlands; it was coveted and enjoyed, for it lingered only briefly each summer. The chambers were also stark. There was a beauty in simplicity. Even a king had no right to display arrogance by ostentation.
Dedelin stood up, looking out his window and into the courtyard. The palace was small by the world's standards—only a single story high, with a peaked wooden roof and squat stone walls. But it was large by Idris standards, and it bordered on flamboyant. This could be forgiven, for the palace was also a meeting hall and center of operations for his entire kingdom.
The king could see General Yarda out of the corner of his eye. The burly man stood waiting, his hands clasped behind his back, his thick beard tied in three places. He was the only other person in the room.
Dedelin glanced back at the letter. The paper was a bright pink, and the garish color stood out on his desk like a drop of blood in the snow. Pink was a color one would never see in Idris. In Hallandren, however—center of the world's dye industry—such tasteless hues were commonplace.
"Well, old friend?" Dedelin asked. "Do you have any advice for me?"
General Yarda shook his head. "War is coming, Your Majesty. I feel it in the winds and read it in the reports of our spies. Hallandren still considers us rebels, and our passes to the north are too tempting. They will attack."
"Then I shouldn't send her," Dedelin said, looking back out his window. The courtyard bustled with people in furs and cloaks coming to market.
"We can't stop the war, Your Majesty," Yarda said. "But ... we can slow it."
Dedelin turned back.
Yarda stepped forward, speaking softly. "This is not a good time. Our troops still haven't recovered from those Vendis raids last fall, and with the fires in the granary this winter ..." Yarda shook his head. "We cannot afford to get into a defensive war in the summer. Our best ally against the Hallandren are the snows. We can't let this conflict occur on their terms. If we do, we are dead."
The words all made sense.
"Your Majesty," Yarda said, "they are waiting for us to break the treaty as an excuse to attack. If we move first, they will strike."
"If we keep the treaty, they will still strike," Dedelin said.
"But later. Perhaps months later. You know how slow Hallandren politics are. If we keep the treaty, there will be debates and arguments. If those last until the snows, then we will have gained the time we need so badly."
It all made sense. Brutal, honest sense. All these years, Dedelin had stalled and watched as the Hallandren court grew more and more aggressive, more and more agitated. Every year, voices called for an assault on the "rebel Idrians" living up in the highlands. Every year, those voices grew louder and more plentiful. Every year, Dedelin's placating and politics kept the armies away. He had hoped, perhaps, that the rebel leader Vahr and his Pahn Kahl dissidents would draw attention away from Idris, but Vahr had been captured, his so-called army dispersed. His actions had only served to make Hallandren more focused on its enemies.
The peace would not last. Not with Idris ripe, not with the trade routes worth so much. Not with the current crop of Hallandren gods, who seemed so much more erratic than their predecessors. He knew all of that. But he also knew that breaking the treaty would be foolish. When you were cast into the den of a beast, you did not provoke it to anger.
Yarda joined him beside the window, looking out, leaning one elbow against the side of the frame. He was a harsh man born of harsh winters. But he was also as good a man as Dedelin had ever known—a part of the king longed to marry Vivenna to the general's own son.
That was foolishness. Dedelin had always known this day would come. He'd crafted the treaty himself, and it demanded he send his daughter to marry the God King. The Hallandren needed a daughter of the royal blood to reintroduce the traditional bloodline into their monarchy. It was something the depraved and vainglorious people of the lowlands had long coveted, and only that specific clause in the treaty had saved Idris these twenty years.
That treaty had been the first official act of Dedelin's reign, negotiated furiously following his father's assassination. Dedelin gritted his teeth. How quickly he'd bowed before the whims of his enemies. Yet he would do it again; an Idris monarch would do anything for his people. That was one big difference between Idris and Hallandren.
"If we send her, Yarda," Dedelin said, "we send her to her death."
"Maybe they won't harm her," Yarda finally said.
"You know better than that. The first thing they'll do when war comes is use her against me. This is Hallandren. They invite Awakeners into their palaces, for Austre's sake!"
Yarda fell silent. finally, he shook his head. "Latest reports say their army has grown to include some forty thousand Lifeless."
Lord God of Colors, Dedelin thought, glancing at the letter again. Its language was simple. Vivenna's twenty-second birthday had come, and the terms of the treaty stipulated that Dedelin could wait no longer.
"Sending Vivenna is a poor plan, but it's our only plan," Yarda said. "With more time, I know I can bring the Tedradel to our cause—they've hated Hallandren since the Manywar. And perhaps I can find a way to rile Vahr's broken rebel faction in Hallandren itself. At the very least, we can build, gather supplies, live another year." Yarda turned to him. "If we don't send the Hallandren their princess, the war will be seen as our fault. Who will support us? They will demand to know why we refused to follow the treaty our own king wrote!"
"And if we do send them Vivenna, it will introduce the royal blood into their monarchy, and that will have an even more legitimate claim on the highlands!"
"Perhaps," Yarda said. "But if we both know they're going to attack anyway, then what do we care about their claim? At least this way, perhaps they will wait until an heir is born before the assault comes."
More time. The general always asked for more time. But what about when that time came at the cost of Dedelin's own child?
Yarda wouldn't hesitate to send one soldier to die if it would mean time enough to get the rest of his troops into better position to attack, Dedelin thought. We are Idris. How can I ask anything less of my daughter than I'd demand of one of my troops?
It was just that thinking of Vivenna in the God King's arms, being forced to bear that creature's child ... it nearly made his hair bleach with concern. That child would become a stillborn monster who would become the next Returned god of the Hallandren.
Excerpted from Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, Moshe Feder. Copyright © 2009 Dragonsteel Entertainment, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
BRANDON SANDERSON grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. He lives in Utah with his wife and children and teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University. In addition to completing Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time®, he is the author of such bestsellers as the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, The Alloy of Law, The Way of Kings, Rithmatist, and Steelheart. He won the 2013 Hugo Award for "The Emperor's Soul," a novella set in the world of his acclaimed first novel, Elantris.
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Brandon Sanderson is hardly a rookie author. Having read Elantris and all of Mistborn, I came to the table expecting an enjoyable read out of Warbreaker. Still, I was blown away. Though a little apprehensive about reading it all on a computer screen, I was board while traveling for work, so I downloaded it. I couldn't stop reading. I stayed up till the wee hours of the morning because the book was so engaging. The story was excellently told, and the comic relief was spot on. Warbreaker is much better than Elantris and Mistborn in every way (except, perhaps, the magic system; alomancy is too cool). While I appreciate Sanderson's motives in writing stand alone epic fantasy, I hope that he reneges. I would be thrilled to see another novel set in the Warbreaker world. If Sanderson keeps improving at this rate, he will become the benchmark over and beyond Tolkien, Jordan or any other author you care to mention. Even though I've already read the free downloadable version off of Sanderson's website, I will definitely order a hardback for my personal library.
Brandon Sanderson has once again proven that he is one of the modern masters of fantasy with this stand alone novel, Warbreaker. Novels such as this, Elantris, and the Mistborn trilogy prove to me that he was the perfect author to take over the helm for Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Just like in his other novels, the story, background, and characters are all very original, and very colorful. In fact, in Warbreaker, colors serve as the basis for divine powers. It seems to me that Brandon Sanderson must have a little notebook of amazingly original ideas that he then uses to flesh out a whole new universe with such deoth that you could actually believe that you are there. This story, with it's love, betrayals, deep characters, and beautifully detailed setting, is one of my favorites. I honestly hope that there are more stories set in this glorious setting in the future. Maybe even as much as I want to some set in Elantris, or in the land of the Mistborn...
Though he is loathed to do so, King Dedelin of Idris must adhere to the treaty signed ages ago in which he is required to send his daughter to marry the God King of Hallandren; as he cannot renege since Susebron's kingdom is so much more powerful than his. However, the agreement is not specific as to which daughter he sends so he decides to go with his younger one, seventeen year old tomboy Siri rather than the apple of his eye, lovely Vivenna.--------------------- Upon arrival at her new home, Siri is shocked by the intrigue and backstabbing of her fiancé's retinue; especially those allegedly loyal to the monarch. Spies are everywhere. Meanwhile, Vivenna runs away from home to save her sister from a fate she believes is worse than death. She joins a band of Idrian travelers and begins to learn to control her magical skills. At the same time back from the dead hero Lightsong wonders what the Returned Gods commanding Hallandren's army of zombies want from King Susebron.------------------ Known for his Mistborn saga, Brandon Sanderson provides a superb stand alone character driven fantasy. The story line is action packed from the moment the courageous Vivenna sets out to save her younger sister Siri and never decelerates. Yet with that fast pace, several great twists, and plenty of adventures, the cast makes the tale super as monarchs, reanimated dead, returning Gods all learn to never judge a book solely by its cover; because if so Vivenna would have stayed girly girl inside her daddy's castle. Hopefully Mr. Sanderson provides more tales in this interesting realm.------------ Harriet Klausner
This an excellent book! The humor of the mercenaries was excellent. The wonderful Siri, who overcomes the antics of the court & claims her husband. Her sister Vivenna, who learns that not everything is black & white. The ending brought tears to my eyes. Lightsong made the greatest sacrifice. Check out other books by Mr. Sanderson, they are quite brilliant!
This book is and eye opener and a resounding success. It is about two countries and their history and antagonism. The main characters are two princesses from one country and the gods of the other country. This is an utterly engaging complex story. It is rich in detail, plot, and character development. It challenges the characters about their culture, belief structure, religion, and explores people pushed well beyond their comfort zone. I intend on reading other books by Brandon Sanderson and will recommend this book to mid-teens and older. This book can provide scintillating discussions on the book itself or on the questions it asks about people and their situations. I had a hard time putting this book down.
This really was a great book. It got me hooked almost right away. I could hardly put it down until I finished it. The characters where great. I particularly liked Lightsong and his humor. The imagery was also fantastic, with every scene cooming alive with vivd colors. My only gripe, minor as it may be, is that the ending was fairly open for what is billed as a stand-alone novel.
Since the publication of "Elantris" in 2005, Brandon Sanderson has quickly become a shining beacon in the world of epic fantasy. Mr. Sanderson can create a deeply detailed world that carries along a series-long plot (see the Mistborn trilogy), or more impressively, can create a gripping whirlwind of a stand alone novel (see Elantris and Warbreaker). The stand alone novel is becoming a rare find in the world of epic fantasy; and the quality has followed the same downward trend as the quantity. I rejoiced in the arrival of Mr. Sanderson on the stage of fantasy writing and hope he continues to write superb stand alone novels for years to come. This newest novel, Warbreaker, continues Sanderson's commitment to exploring new and exciting magic systems. Come lose yourself in the political intriuge and magical schemings of a world where any person can sell their "Breath" or could die and be reborn a God. Follow the adventures of Siri and Vivenna as they travel to the unholy city of Hallendren only to find new perspectives on life, duty, and the meaning of good and evil.
- This book has some great plot twists, the end is almost imposible to guess at and the book will leave you thinking. - Another of Brandon Sanderson's unique "magic" system comes into full light here. A very interesting system that begs you to understand it.
Brian write another great series. He is able to take magic and fantasy and bring it to an entire new level. The twist plots and in-dept characters make you not want to put the book down.
Excellent read. Great plot, great characters. A real page turner. Loved the story line and all the characters, especially Lighttouch and BlushWeaver. Could not put the book down. Brandon Sanderson has really out done himself with "Warbreaker" I recommend it not only to Fantasy readers but to all readers.
Brandon Sanderson is quickly cementing himself as the one of the greatest fantasy writers of all time, and he is still very young. He continues to create fresh ideas that are always pushing the fold. This book in particular was very difficult to put down. You will find yourself reading right through it very quickly. Sanderson always brings the whole package. You will not be disappointed.
It a bit slow at some parts, but creates a amazing world and unique magic system. It has a similar theme as some of his other books, while being original.
Interesting use of writing technique
Liked the but not remarkable compare to his other books
My only issue was that it all ends so abruptly. I guess I could have kept reading, though I had already stayed up way too late a number of nights, unable to put it down.
As always, he did it again. Took me on a good ride, but left me wanting more. A sequel perhaps!!!!!!!!!!!