Warbreaker - Brandon Sanderson 3.5 stars. This review originally posted at The Bibliosanctum

It's official. I've been thoroughly spoiled by The Way of Kings and the newer novellas that Sanderson has written in the last couple of years.

Anyway, let's first start with what this book is about. As with most of his works, explanation of the world lore and magic system in Warbreaker will take at least a few paragraphs alone, so here we go. This is a story of two kingdoms on the verge of war. Idris and Hallandren have been at odds for centuries, due to irreconcilable differences in their culture, religion and beliefs.

The magic in their world is BioChromatic, one based on drawing power from color while being fueled by an essence called "Breath". Breath is considered almost like a soul to the people of Idris; without a Breath you are called a "Drab". Indeed, the Idrians wear grey-scale colors and shun the practice by Hallandren Awakeners who use Breath to bring objects to life and even reanimate the dead for their Lifeless army.

Sometimes, the dead also come back to life if they die in glory, and in Hallandren these people are known as the Returned and are worshiped as gods. One of the main characters in this novel, Lightsong the Bold is one such individual. However, he and the other gods require taking in at least one Breath a week to remain alive. Luckily in this world, Breath can be sold, bartered and collected like any other trade good. With his or her Breath, a Returned god can heal or do other amazing things, but the catch is, he or she cannot give their Breath away with dying.

Events kick off when Siri, princess of Idris, is sent to Hallandren to marry their God King in accordance to a treaty to try to stave off the war, taking the place of her older sister Vivenna at the last minute. Vivenna, feeling snubbed and robbed of the duty she has been preparing for her whole life, secretly makes her way to Hallandren as well in an attempt to rescue her little sister. But despite their best efforts to avert the conflict, war might be inevitable anyway.

I've said it before and I'll say it again; I don't think Sanderson is capable of writing a bad book in my eyes, but I just like some of them better than others. There are several things about Warbreaker that kept it from being one of my favorites, the main reason being the BioChromatic magic system. Out of all the worlds and systems that Sanderson has ever created, I don't think this was one of his strongest ones.

Admittedly, it could be a personal preference and my own difficulty in imagining a magic system based around color. As an artist, colors in all their glorious hues and tones play a huge part in my life, and sometimes it's hard to picture in my head the characters' manipulations of it in fantasy. I remember having a tough time wrapping my head around the chromaturgy magic system in Brent Weeks' The Black Prism as well, that being another book with its magic based around color.

Also, for the first time, a Sanderson character managed to annoy me. Lightsong wasn't an unlikeable character or badly written by any means, but he grated on my nerves. I understood that he was meant to come off as a clownish buffoon, but some of his jokes were so outrageously lame and tacky that I couldn't help but cringe in my seat. In contrast, I very much enjoyed the characterization and development of the two sisters though; both Siri and Vivenna grow in ways throughout the course of this novel that are believable and endear the reader to them.