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The Victor Voice

The Student News Site of Victor Senior High School

The Victor Voice

Warbreaker: The Most Unique Fantasy Book I’ve Ever Read

The Cosmere Mega Review #3
Cover Artwork (Dan dos Santos)

Welcome to this crazy project I’ve decided to embark on. I have decided to read, and then review, as much of the Cosmere in (roughly) chronological order that I can. The Cosmere is a collection of fantasy books by Brandon Sanderson which as of today contains nearly 4 million words total. 

These books and series are all connected MCU style with a lot of individual books/series that later on converge in a central plot. Despite the first book in the Cosmere coming out almost 20 years ago, we still are only in the very early stages of the universe. 

I am going to avoid spoilers in these reviews however I will reveal the most basic aspects of the story. I recommend that for most of these books that you go in completely blind as that makes the reading experience a lot better.

Endpaper Found In 10th Anniversary Leatherbound Re-release (Dan dos Santos)


When I first read Warbreaker I did not like it. The beginning was really slow, I had a hard time connecting with some of the perspective characters, it had more mature themes, and it took too long to explore my favorite aspect (the Magic System). 

Though now looking back, I have come around, and I consider it one of the best books within The Cosmere. The character growth, the Magic System, the humor, and the impact it has in subsequent books has all won me over.

Many of Brandon Sanderson’s magic systems are all about balance. A push for every pull. Interestingly, two of Brandon Sanderson’s books have a balance similar to this. In Brandon Sanderson’s own words: “In many ways, [Warbreaker] is a companion – yet opposite book – to Elantris”

Warbreaker and Elantris, despite taking place on different worlds with different magic systems explore a few concepts in opposite directions. The two biggest ideas are: The Deification of Man, and A Princess Being Shipped Away to be Wed. 

Both ideas are explored in very different ways, however I must say that I prefer their interpretation in Warbreaker over Elantris.

Additionally this is definitely one of the more mature works in The Cosmere. There is mild sexual content, a decent amount of gore, and some other mature themes. However nothing feels out of place within the story. 

Cover Artwork (Jian Guo)

The Magic System

Warbreaker has my favorite magic system of the Cosmere (with Mistborn coming in a very close second). This is the first (and currently only) book I have read that has a Magic System that involves the use of Color like this. 

Every single person has Breath within them, it is essentially your soul (or for my fellow Cosmere fans, it is a small sliver of innate Investiture). However, you can give that Breath away. Some people will even buy your breath from you, turning you into a Drab. 

Drabs have a hard time perceiving color, and do not experience the ‘sixth sense’ or odd feeling one gets when being watched. 

Those with a lot of Breaths can reach one of ten Heightenings depending on how many breaths they hold. Each Heightening grants abilities such as Life Sense, Perfect Pitch, Agelessness, etc.  

Another reason to hold Breaths is the power of Awakening. Using touch, vocal commands, and color, one can infuse objects with Breath and Awaken it. Awakened objects can do a myriad of different things depending on the complexity of the command and the amount of Breaths available. 

Awakening for most requires a lot of practice and training, however some of the requirements (such as touch and vocal commands) can actually be bypassed if you are at a high enough Heightening. 

One aspect of the magic system and world at large is The Returned. To avoid spoilers and a lot of Cosmere mumbo jumbo my explanation will be very simplified. They are people who died, then returned back to life with no memories and enough Breaths to instantly reach the 5th Heightening.

They cannot give away these Breaths. What they can do however, is perform a ‘miracle’ and heal a single person at the cost of their own life. 

The majority of The Returned are worshiped as the Hallendren Court of Gods, with The God King (an Awakened of The 10th Heightening) ruling over them. 

Cover Artwork (Dominik Broniek)

The Characters

There are four primary characters in Warbreaker each very different from each other. They all have very clear arcs and it was very satisfying to see them progress throughout the story.

First off we got Vivenna, she is the eldest child of the King of Idris. She is the perfect daughter, smart, responsible, caring and completely devoted to her cause. Though when her entire life plan falls apart she changes into something new. 

In the Cosmere I’ve never had such a change of heart when it comes to a character. At first I absolutely hated Vivenna, but by the end of the novel she was by far my favorite. 

Artwork by Miranda Meeks found in 10th Anniversary Leatherback Re-release

Next we have Lightsong, one of the returned in the Hallendren Court of Gods. I think the best way to describe Lightsong is that my perfect casting for him in a movie would be Ryan Reynolds. 

While Lightsong may not be as strong a character as the others, I enjoyed nearly every chapter where he was the perspective character simply because of his personality.

Vasher is probably the most stereotypical character of the bunch. He’s the mysterious loner who is incredibly dangerous and powerful. The mystery of his past and his sword (the one and only Nightblood) kept me hooked the entire time and I loved his albeit small character growth throughout the story.

Last but certainly not least is Siri. She is the youngest daughter of King Idris, and is the opposite of Vivenna in many ways. Siri is the troublemaker child, who skirts responsibilities and is free. She has the opposite arc of Vivenna, she matures and grows as a person within the story.

Siri is definitely the most passive of the main characters, while later on she unravels the mystery of the God King, for the second half of the story I was less intrigued by her story as I was by the others. 

In typical Brandon Sanderson fashion all of these characters have very distinct voices and personalities, as well as quite a bit of wit. 

Not Perfect

I mentioned earlier that I initially did not like this book, and many others shared my opinion of it. 

I had a bit of whiplash when starting this book. I had just finished reading Mistborn and this book is considerably more mature. This was the first time sex and major romance plots were at the forefront of the story in a Brandon Sanderson book (that I had read). But before you get excited I will have to burst your bubble and tell you that there is not any smut in this book.

The pacing can also be very inconsistent, not as bad as Elantris, but still not as good as many of Brandon Sanderson’s other works. For much of the first half of the book it feels like characters are stuck reacting to everything going on, and not actively pursuing anything. It picks up a lot after a certain twist happens halfway through, but before then it drags a lot. 

While I did praise the characters earlier, they can be annoying at times. For most of the story they are great, but each of them have a portion of the book where I was simply uninterested.  

Cover Artwork (Sam Green)

However my biggest grievance is one I never thought I’d have with a Brandon Sanderson book. The worldbuilding is seriously lacking. While we know enough about the main two countries, we know next to nothing about the extended world beyond this relatively small conflict. 

The worst part is the history. A major part of the story’s climax and story is regards what these ancient Scholars made. Except we know nothing about them. We know they exist and they discovered/created these things, and some of them actually appear in the book. However I feel we didn’t get an ample explanation about them before they sweeped in and saved the day. 

In Conclusion

Warbreaker is not in any way a perfect book. However the Magic System, and characters are some of the best in The Cosmere. I had a lot of fun reading this book and a lot of fun theorizing what happens in the events after this book’s conclusion (the book ends on a semi-cliffhanger with two of the protagonists leaving to go on their own adventure). 

This is one of the last Cosmere books I will review that I would recommend as a starting place in the Cosmere. I give Warbreaker a 9/10. So if you are at all interested in a super cool magic system, romance, revolution, or talking swords who are WAY too enthusiastic about killing people, I recommend Warbreaker (WHICH IS FREE TO DOWNLOAD ON BRANDON SANDERSON’S WEBSITE)

Tune in next time where I’ll review the main series within The Cosmere: The Stormlight Archives

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About the Contributor
Tobie Iwankow
Tobie Iwankow, Executive Producer
Tobie is a senior and this is their second year of Journalism. They love writing, producing and editing the Victor Voice Episodes and strive to bring an extra level of quality to all their projects. Tobie is also in their 6th season of Marching Band and 5th season of VIPE where they play Marimba in the Front Ensemble. In the future Tobie plans to major in Film Production and join a professional Indoor Percussion Group.

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