XXY Reads: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

XXY Reads: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

What do you do when you pull back the curtain and find a giant beating heart operating the international hegemonic state system?

That is what this book is about: heart. Discovering everyone’s true disposition by discovering what makes their heart beat. Is it rage against politics, love for their infuriating family (is that redundant?), to maintain faith, to extinguish regret, to enact vengeance, or is it the most basic human instinct of survival?

Sanderson uses the happenings of the fictional nation of Hallandren to expose the lack of pragmatism in social infrastructure, and the fragility and catalytic nature of politics. As we watch the clandestine dynamics between different political systems, it is demonstrated how certain laws work as a double-edged sword. National sovereignty is obviously fundamental, yet incredibly deterrent to humanitarian intervention endeavours. Likewise, the need for secrecy and espionage in national security; while that secrecy also creates the perfect accommodation for corruption.

How should extremism be defined? Should fighting the causes of terrorism be prioritised over fighting actual terrorists? And do abstract questions like these even matter during real-life calamities of dealing with mutiny or anarchy?

These are the types of intriguing issues and questions that are put to the reader as we follow the intertwined storylines of sisters Vivenna and Siri, who accidentally find themselves on opposite sides during the brink of a revolution. But through fantastic ventures that include magic, espionage and romance, they find their way back to each other and to socio-political liberation.

It is eye-opening to an almost poignant degree to have two protagonists give their observations and insights of both sides of a social uprising. We see their reactions to the social consequences of each other’s actions or their contradicting impressions of different characters. Vivenna gets to know the disenfranchised lower class and immigrants, and Siri gets an understanding of the hypersensitive enigmatic issues decision makers have to deal with. This narrative acknowledges the adage of “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist” to be the first step towards using empathy and objectivity to achieve socio-political progress.

Thomas Schnek

Brandon Sanderson’s distinct writing style manages to be ornate whilst remaining unencumbered, weaving a tale of political intrigue that highlights the fact that every political movement, social institution, and even religion, originates from human sentiment. We see people of the same group acting out of different urges: idealism, personal vendetta, and survival instinct. Yet the most interesting and memorable aspect of this book was to see the proponents and even producers of propaganda defend their beliefs with the same kind of emotion-based ardour as their protesters.


Written by Ishrat Ahmed,


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Koirichio DoiLiu Wen  Thomas Schnek