Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Chupacabra and Warbreaker

Why I Read It: Read along hosted by Once Upon A Time

Where I Got It: Own it.

Who I Recommend This To: Those into epic fantasy.

Publisher: Tor Fantasy (2010)

Length: 688 pages

This book was a play on plot twists. Brandon Sanderson has entertained me quite well once again. Siri and Vivenna are sisters, Princesses of Idris, a high mountain, sober town. Vivenna has known all her life that she was betrothed to the God King of Hallandren, a bustling city steeped in color and vice. However, the King of Idris cannot bear to send his eldest, and favorite, daughter. Siri is sent in her staid, much to the shock of all, including the untrained and ill-mannered Siri.

Vasher and his thought-projecting sentient sword Nightblood have a quest of their own, which no one is quite sure about for a good chunk of the book. (I loved guessing on his intentions). Denth and Tonk Fah are dark-humored mercenaries who meet Vivenna shortly after she makes her secret way to Hallandren to rescue her sister. Siri, in the mean time, has been learning to enjoy succulent fish dishes and wear fancy, flashy, sexy gowns. She befriends one of the pantheon of the Court, Lightsong. He has some of the best lines of the book, constantly irritating and making the other gods and royalty laugh. A good chunk of the pantheon and their priests are for war with Idris, which is seen as a rogue city defying the rightful rule of The God King. Oh, and they have some very lucrative mountain passes used for trading with other nations. Just in case you need a monetary reason to go to war.

In this tale, BioChroma plays a large role. The more Breaths a person has, the more objects a person can animate and command. This includes dead bodies, and hence Hallandren has an army of Lifeless – soldiers who do not need sleep, rest, food, or water. They feel no pain. Shudder. Yeah, Idris is in trouble. While Siri and Vivenna work in their separate ways to head off this war, Lightsong begins snooping around after a mysterious death of servant occurs at Mercystar’s palace. Vasher and Denth continue to circle each other, alternately aggravating and avoiding one another.

What I Liked: The BioChroma rules for this world; the dark humor of Denth and Tonk Fah; the God King’s secret; Lightsong’s banter with the curvaceous Blushweaver; Nightblood has some of the best lines; the lifeless squirrel!

What I Disliked: The first time reading it, it took me some time to grasp the rules of BioChroma.

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Heldig and Mistborn: The Final Empire

Why I Read It: Participated in a read along over at My Awful Reviews.

Where I Got It: Own it.

Who I Recommend This To: Epic fantasy junkies!

Publisher: Tor Fantasy (2007)

Length: 672 pages

Series: Mistborn Book 1

Vin kicks ass.

It needed to be said up front.

This is another wonderful Brandon Sanderson world; it’s ashy and grey, there are Steel Inquisitors with metal protruding from their eye sockets, Allomancers rule the night with their ability to manipulate metal objects, and mistwraiths roam the lands between cities always hungry. Much of this story is seen through Vin’s eyes; she is a street thief and an Allomancer (though she doesn’t know that last to begin with). Kelsier runs a group of skilled individuals who want to overthrow the empire and he takes Vin under his wing. He has a suspicion that Vin is somewhat like himself – a Mistborn. Mistborns can manipulate all kinds of metal, whereas most Allomancers can only work with a pair of metals. And Kelsier could definitely use another Mistborn to help him with his plans.

This book was wicked fun from beginning to the end. The premise of a small rebel group wanting to overthrow the ruling regime probably seems simple, maybe even overused. However, it gets complicatedly good quick. Each character has a backstory, some of which we learn throughout the tale. Each has his and her own reasons for following Kelsier on his mad quest. The bad guys are not fumbling idiots either, but rather skilled, deadly, and mysterious. A side romance adds a few complications to the master plan, but played well for the reader.

What I Liked: The cloaks; the intrigue, on many levels; Sanderson creates rules for his world and sticks with them; Hoid; there were several twists I did not see coming.

What I Disliked: The initial romance was a little sudden, but I eventually settled into it.

Warbreaker Read Along Part III

It is very hard to get hyper Tanuki to pose for a pic. Bribery was used.

What a crazy week! So much happened in this week’s readings; even though it is a re-read for me, I am greatly enjoying the book and found it a little hard to stop.

This week’s reading included Chapters 24-34. Schedule over HERE.

Thanks once again to Once Upon A Time for keeping us all organized and Amanda over at Ramblings for this week’s questions.

The Questions:

1. Lightsong is beginning to remember his past, or at least, what he thinks is his past. Why do you think this knowledge is coming to him now, after five years as a Returned?

I think his subconscious is preparing him for big things. He has to believe in himself for what is to come. Once upon a time he did something heroic and bold and he needs that piece of himself again. It’s been buried all these years, waiting for the right moment to strike, like a hidden panther.

Or perhaps his servants will run out of grapes and he will have to peel them himself.

2. In this section, Vivenna has learned a lot about herself, and not necessarily to her liking. How do you think the new knowledge will change her going forward?

I think it was healthy for her to admit she was a hypocrite. Learning that ‘your people’ are gangsters and prostitutes and feel that they are better off in the slums of Hallendren rather than the empty slopes of Idris must have stung a bit. In some ways, Vivenna became a much more interesting person in this week’s reading- having to confront what she would do in a moment of terror. Perhaps now she will vary her daily dress a bit.

3. From the beginning of the book, both the Idrians and Lightsong have been telling us that the Returned aren’t Gods, and that the Hallendren religion is untrue. Now, though, we’ve had a few other different perspectives: Jewels’ vehement faith in the God King, the God King’s own belief in his divinity, and finally, Hoid’s collection of historical stories. Given the new information, have your ideas about religion in this book changed? How do you view it now?

Most importantly, it was very good to see Hoid again. He turns up here and there in other Sanderson books.

Religion is an organized group of people who believe roughly the same thing. Hallendren definitely has it’s religion – with some of the Returned subscribing to it and others not. I really love how Sanderson weaves together all this religious turmoil into the story line. I think Lightsong is deeply disturbed by the religion surrounding him, because he does not believe himself worthy of such adoration and dedication, not to mention the breaths he must take from children each month.

Susebron has known nothing else. Siri is the first person he has had contact with that has been honest to his face about not believing in his divinity. While the priests that surround him use religion as a tool to maintain power, they have always reinforced his belief in his divinity.

The only way I can think to relate to this is by looking at my mundane life and imagining someone telling me, very seriously, that I am divine. Huh? You must be a little nuts. Go put the harp away. No, we don’t need choir music. OK, leave the candles if you must, I wanted to read anyway.

4. Denth says, “Every man is a hero in his own story.” What do you make of this, especially given Denth and Vasher’s apparent rivalry, and Vivenna and Siri’s different perspectives of life in Hallendren and the Gods’ court?

Siri is making the best of an impossible situation. She wasn’t trained for this position, she was ordered to it last minute, and when she gets there, it is not as advertised. I think she is doing remarkably well. It is a good thing she is flexible.

Vivenna started off as pretty inflexible and it was her stubbornness and idea of ‘Right’ that got her this far. But this week, we saw a lot of her believes challenged. I am expecting this to lead to personal growth on her part.

Denth and Vasher. this is a a re-read for me, so I won’t say too much. So far, we have spent very little time inside eithers’ head. We’ve heard more chat from Denth and how he has taken pains to protect Vivenna. On Vasher’s side, we have seen a lot of threatening postures, a few deaths/injuries, and several occasions where he goes out of his way not to kill. So far, they are both suspicious to me.

Other Tidbits:

Hoid’s storytelling performance with the various thing she pulled out of his pockets was very cool.

Hopefinder and Blushweaver: That was a very entertaining conversation, with all the back and forth.

Do you think Clod has any of his personality left? It was pretty amazing how the Lifeless retained such mobility and fighting skill.

Sooner or later, Siri will have to explain to Susebron exactly why she bounces on the bed, making moaning noises. I find it entertaining how she is in the awkward position of sooner or later explaining the mechanics of reproduction.

Warbreaker Read Along I

Warbreaker Read Along II

The Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

Why I Read It: Loved Jim Butcher’s other series, The Dresden Files.

Where I Got It: The Library

Who I Recommend This To: People into epic fantasy with strong world-building and character development.

Narrator: Kate Reading

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2008)

Length: 16 CDs

Series: Book 1 of The Codex Alera

This was such a fun book. As a fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, this was quite a different pace but every bit as good. Tavi is a teenager, a shepherd, and lacking in judgement when it comes to women. He also has no furies of his own, a bit of an oddity in a world where everyone has at least one fury they can call their own. Furies are the spirits of various natural elements of the world of Alera – water furies, fire furies, earth furies, etc. Calderon has some of the strongest furies, and hence some of the strongest furycrafters, in all of Alera.

The Alerans are not alone in this world, but their last confrontation with the Marat was nearly 15 years ago. So when Tavi and his Uncle Bernard go out to find some lost sheep, the last thing they expect is to fend off is a Marat warrior and his deadly birdbeasts. This external foe coupled with internal power struggles puts Alera in a precarious position. Amara in a Cursor, which is not just someone who delivers the Empire’s mail, but can also serve as information gatherer. She is also wicked good with her wind fury, decent with a blade, and has some of the best lines in the book. Unfortunately, she is up against a foe who knows all her strengths and weaknesses.

Butcher wove together a masterful tale that grabs a hold of you right away and never lets go. The characters are introduced simply and gain in depth as the story unfolds; I even fell in love with some of the bad guys, hoping they wouldn’t die before I had learned all their secrets. The magical rules governing furycrafting are well laid out and the author doesn’t stray from them for ease of moving the plot along. The Marat make an intriguing external force upon the Empire, with their own code of honor and culture.

Kate Reading surpassed my expectations. I had listened to other narrations by her and had found her speech pattern halting and a little unsettling. I am very happy to say that she performed this book beautifully, with a notable range for male and female characters. I especially loved her rendition of Odiana. This performance not only puts her back on my Listen To List, but also in the top 20.

What I Liked: The story begins and ends with sheep; the Marat are so alien to the Alerans; the side romance of Amara; Amara’s word duel with a cocky knight; the bad guys are complex; the good guys are complex; everyone has secrets and a past.

What I Disliked:  I took far too long to pick up this book.

Warbreaker Read Along Part II

Thanks to the folks over at Once Upon a Time for running this read along. Make sure to check out their site and see what they think about the book so far.

Since this is a reread for me, I will be answering most of these questions sideways because I already know how the story plays out. This week’s section covered Chpts. 13-23. See the schedule over HERE.

The Questions:

1) We’ve seen more of Vasher and Nightblood in action and heard perhaps quite a different perspective from the mercenaries. Any thoughts on what Vasher and Nightblood’s nature or motivations may ultimately be?
Vasher and Nightblood are an interesting duo – each highly deadly in his/it’s own right and one self-restrained and one physically restrained. I am highly amused by Nightblood, in a guilty kind of twisted way. I don’t think Nightblood is a particularly good being. During my first read through, I still wasn’t too sure about these two and their motivations. I thought Vasher was harsh and probably up to no good – he killed a man in the first week’s reading, made threatening eyes at Vivenna this week. But them he goes and leaves people alive that he doesn’t have to.
2) How about the mercenaries themselves? Denth seems to be spectacularly dangerous; more than we may have suspected. Then there is Tonk Fah and the recently introduced Jewels. Are they playing it level with Vivenna, do you think?
Yes. I think they are creepy and morbid by turns, but they are mercenaries and have been hired to do a job. Denth especially appears to be taking the Princess under his wing a little and giving her some much needed advice. I like them because of their dark humor though I do miss Tonk Fah’s bird.  Jewels is the first Drab we really get to see and that only a little. She seems to have no regard for Vivenna and that might just be her nature to everyone, or perhaps she doesn’t care for royalty. She does seem to coddle her Lifeless and I can remember during my first read through thinking perhaps it was because she was socially inept with the living.
3) We – and Siri – were let in on (some of) the secrets surrounding the God King as well, and what has been done to him to keep him in check. Or at least, we’ve seen Siri’s thoughts on why it was done. Do you think she was right? What consequences do you perhaps see arising from her teaching the Godking?
I think she will be teaching him more than reading skills….. OK, highschool humor aside I think some shit will be going down as a result of increasing the God King’s comprehensive skills. The cutesy-wutesy side of me, admittedly very small, also finds this very endearing – the God King asking for help from his wife on something that reveals so much about himself.
4) Blushweaver seems to be working toward some end goal we’re not yet privy to, but we know she is after anyone with Lifeless commands. Any ideas what/who/where her target may be once control of the Lifeless is gained?
Well, I don’t think she is looking to set of a Lifeless harem for herself or a night cabaret with male Lifeless on stage. She says that she just wants to prepare for the worst case, but that is all she is presenting. She seems to get a high out of manipulating people; I hope Lightsong keeps vexing her.
Other Tidbits:
While the scenes with the Lifeless squirrel running amok were not described, I can still picture them, and they make me snort-laugh.
What do you think Vasher was doing in Mercystar’s palace anyway? Who is his informant? I remember being tortured by these questions my first read through.
Scoot knew Lightsong in his past life and believes in his goodness and divinity. That is very telling.
Vivenna has still got a stick up her rear about some things, doesn’t she? I am glad that started to waver in this section, probably due to discovering her father’s notes to the now-dead Lemex.
What do you think Susebron thinks of Siri’s new nightly performance? If he can’t read, then does he know about procreation at all? Do you think he mimics the gestures and bouncing back in his own room, trying to puzzle it out?
Lightsong, the Super Sleuth!

Warbreaker Read Along Part I

Hello everyone. Welcome to the read along of Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. This read along is the brainchild of those lovely, quick-tongued, and highly entertaining folks over at Once Upon A Time, so make sure to stop by and enjoy their site. They also have the links to all the other participating bloggers.

This is my second time reading this novel in the past year. I enjoyed this book so much the first time through, I read it very fast and missed a lot of the details. So this read along was the perfect excuse to re-read it, and slow down my pace. With that said, I promise not to spoil anything in my answers for first time readers.

1. All right, let’s start easy – how are you liking the book so far? We’ve been introduced to a lot of characters and started several stories now. Any in particular catch your attention? Anything intrigue you?

I have to say the cover drew me in right away. Just gorgeous work.

I remember the first time reading this and finding it a little daunting to grasp the rules of the world right off the bat. Luckily, Sanderson provides plenty of details to help me get on board quickly enough.

The character of Vasher I was intrigued by right away; is he a bad guy? Good Guy? His sword Nightblood often had me inappropriately laughing. Also Denth and Tonk Fah were quite the dry wit comedy duo.

Siri also had my attention right away because she is rebellious (or an independent thinker depending on your point of view). She’s a handful at home and a too curious for the Hallandren crowd.

2. The Returned are all treated as Gods, but at least one of those Gods doesn’t believe in his own divinity, despite seeing potential visions. Do you think the Returned will prove to be divine? How do you feel about the religion built up around them?

I’m going to partially skirt the answer to the first question, since I know how the book ends. Let me bore you with beer talk about divinity. That first glass of fresh, clear, cool water after working in the sun for hours is divine. That first fresh strawberry from my own garden was divine. Of course there are divine acts, which can be simple things of kindness, especially when they go against our base inclinations. Lightsong seems to be in great need of some divinity. His ennui would be irksome if he didn’t have his snide comments and nick names to entertain me.

I see lots of potential for corruption. The Gods can abuse the system and get nearly anything they want (except freedom) and the servants of the Gods control access to them, and hence have a lot of power. I find Lightsong’s questions to Scoot about believing the whole religion very interesting. Lightsong is a God and even he questions the validity of the religion – probably because of the weekly offerings and the near daily petitions that he has to turn down.

3. The God King didn’t turn out to be the way he’s presented and thought of in this world. Any ideas on what his role will be in this story?

The first time I read this, I remember seeing the GK Susebron as a mystery. At first, I couldn’t tell if he would be cruel, simple, cold and callous, or a reserved goodness. There are so many rules for Siri, even as wife to the GK. Of course, this has lead to some amusing situations and conversations. Bluefingers’ advice not to touch the GK, when they are suppose to have sex and create an heir – that conversation had me laughing on the second time through just as much as the first.

4. The title – Warbreaker – what do you think it might refer to?

The title had me guessing up to near the end my first time through. I like not having all the answers right away in a story.

So early on in the book, the reader is introduced to how close to the surface war is brewing. Between that and the title, we know the theme of war is important.

Other Tidbits:

Vivenna is also an interesting character. She has defied her father and secretly followed her sister to the God King’s city. She firmly believes her sister is in desperate need of saving. I found it very interesting how quickly she is overwhelmed by the new environment and then thrown for a loop by Lemex’s death.

Can you imagine going from pretty self-serving and living in a prudish society to having people whose job it is to bathe you? Now, does Siri get to scrub her important bits, or is this done for her too?

Lightsong refers to a Goddess that was the last decent Returned. I would like to learn more about her (Calmseer) and her relationship with Lightsong.