Brandon Sanderson pt 6: Warbreaker and Edgedancer

A twist-laden, colour-based standalone novel; and Stormlight 2.5.

Brandon Sanderson pt 6: Warbreaker and Edgedancer

Continuing my read-through of Brandon Sanderson's published works with two fast-paced stories. Warbreaker is a standalone novel with brilliant twists, whereas Edgedancer fills a gap as #2.5 in the Stormlight Archive but is lacking substance.

For my other write-ups on the Mistborn series, Elantris, Emperor's Soul and the Stormlight Archive, use the button below:


From The Art of Dan dos Santos

Published: 2009

Read: 10th July 2023

β€œMy life to yours. My breath become yours.”

SANDERSOOOOOONNN HOW DO YA DO IT?! Warbreaker was a fantastic standalone addition to Brandon Sanderson’s growing list of published works.

Due to its standalone nature, the plot moves fast. This feeling may have been exacerbated due to the whiplash of going from reading the 1000+ page Stormlight Archive books to this relatively slim novel. The world of Nalthis is packed with detail, and the Breath magical system has effects on colour which allows for interesting visual descriptions of people and places. The story is essentially built on the book’s title - Hallendren people trying to to prevent a war, which was a refreshing objective compared to the rich basis of Fantasy stories about starting or fighting a war. The key strategy employed here involves marrying off a princess to a magnanimous God King, with the goal of bearing his child to bring peace to the two kingdoms.

"But time burns away behind us, leaving only ash and memory. That memory passes from mind to mind, then finally to my lips. When all is truth, and all are lies, does it matter if some say the royal family sought to create Lifeless? Your belief is your own."

We follow four primary perspectives - two princesses, a rogue and a God. There are a lot of characters, motivations and interests. Not only that, but a lot happens every single chapter, with the story being moved forward by off-screen actions. This is different to the Stormlight and even Mistborn pacing, and is emphasised by the quickly rotating POVs. Key moments are given shorter page times than I was accustomed to with Sanderson, which surprisingly made the story feel slightly rushed for me. Sanderson loves to make his characters introspect and question themselves, then reaffirm their beliefs based on recent events. It’s all rather straightforward and clear but sometimes I question how clearcut the characters end up being. This is also definitely the most adult Sanderson book thus far, due to the content matter of the plot.

Warbreaker features other typical Sanderson characteristics - a dense lore and logical Breath-based magical system to be explored in detail. It was cool, but not as amazing as fans hype it up to be. I will be interested in seeing how it returns in the Cosmere, as I feel there is a lot to be explored here and the visual distinctions and descriptions alone can make for some interesting observations and sequences. There are also so many twists, with me being left slack-jawed a few times in the second half. The Sanderlanche was a suitable payoff for all the threads established, and I was left happily bewildered at where the story ended up after all the twists and turns.

"They say a man doesn't know himself until he faces death for the first time... I don't know that. It seems to me that the person you are when you're about to die isn't as important as the person you are during the rest of your life. Why should a few moments matter more than an entire lifetime?"

The range of perspectives means the themes explored here are romance, faith and finding yourself after a life of expectations. What I found more interesting than the themes explored was the fact that Sanderson actually publicly shared his progress on this novel - from early drafts to every chapter of the published book being available for free on his website. A unique way to gain readership, but also respect both as an author and for the craft of writing itself.

Warbreaker was a fun blast, with some touching upon deeper themes. It essentially was an interesting set of characters and fresh world to spend some time and twists in, and I can probably recommend it over many of Sanderson's novels for its how accessible and readable it is.


Stormlight Archive 2.5

Published: 2016

Read: 2nd August, 2023

A fun but ultimately unsubstantial read. This Stormlight Archive novella follows Lift, a character introduced through a brilliant Interlude in Words of Radiance. That Interlude is lifted word-for-word to be the lengthy prologue for this novella, which honestly was a wise choice considering how effective of a mini-story it was.

β€œYou couldn’t live your life getting up and seeing the same things every day. You had to keep moving, otherwise people started to know who you were, and then they started to expect things from you. It was one step from there to being gobbled up.”

The rest of the story however feels ultimately unnecessary. It is interesting to get further insights into Lift's personality and her relationship with her spren Wyndle who she humorously refers to as "Voidbringer". The novella quickly becomes tiresome in this character delivery however. The other key characters from the Stormlight Archive series featured here are the mysterious Judge Nalan and recovering assassin-in-white Szeth. A certain cameo from Warbreaker also continues with an appearance here. These were interesting moments, but I felt they could have been condensed into moments in the main Stormlight Archive books.

β€œI change, moment by moment. One moment I am the eyes that inspect so many people in this city. Another moment I am the mouth, to speak the words of philosophy. They spread like a diseaseβ€”and so at times I am the disease. Most diseases live. Did you know that?”

The setting of Yeddaw brings some interesting characters and world-building forward, but it all is washed away by the time events catch up to the world-changing affairs at the conclusion of Words of Radiance. It ultimately makes the whole story feel a bit hollow in impact.

β€œThe world ends tomorrow, but the day after that, people are going to ask what’s for breakfast.”

If you're looking for a fun side story in the world of Roshar, you will enjoy Edgedancer. However, I believe the main Stormlight Archive novels (and a quick summary read of Edgedancer) are enough for the majority of readers.


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