Warbreaker is the story of two sister princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn’t like his job, and the immortal who’s still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago. Their world is one where magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people. By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery; and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.
The more I think about this book, the more I realize how much I enjoyed it. It’s much funnier than I anticipated–between mercenary humor and a god who doesn’t believe in his godhood, I was highly entertained. But at the same time, there’s a lot of serious stuff going on–political maneuverings to an “inevitable” war, marginalized people groups within a larger population, prejudice, corruption. Things are rarely all that they seem (and I was just as drawn in and trusting as certain other characters, never expecting betrayal). I loved the growth in Vivenna and Siri as they learn to set aside their prejudices and misconceptions, and Vivenna has some truly painful moments as she confronts her own flaws and works to move past them. There’s a lot of darkness, but a lot of beauty too.
And yes, the magic system is creative and well thought out. There’s definitely room for a sequel, though the story stands alone well. I’ve not read much Sanderson to compare it, but if his other books have half the complexity and thoughtfulness, they are sure to be good. I would greatly enjoy reading this book again.