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Warbreaker Cover.jpeg
Setting Nalthis, Cosmere
Released June 9, 2009
Publisher Tor
ISBN 0-7653-2030-4
Page Count 592
Word Count 196,014

Warbreaker is a cosmere novel by Brandon Sanderson, which is available for purchase in bookstores or for free download from his website.[1]


Warbreaker tells the story of two sister princesses, Vivenna and Siri, of the country Idris. Vivenna has been raised her entire life to marry the God King of the rival nation of Hallandren, in the hopes that this marriage will forestall Hallandren's invasion of Idris, which they have been threatening for years. For reasons of political expediency, as well as the personal preferences of the King of Idris, Siri is sent, unprepared, in Vivenna's stead. Vivenna, feeling her life to be devoid of purpose after Siri is sent in her place, follows her to Hallandren in hopes of rescuing her. Both Siri and Vivenna then become involved in intrigues intended to cause war between their home nation of Idris and Hallandren, and attempt to prevent the war from happening separately: Siri from within the government and Vivenna by cooperation with the underground.

At the same time, the novel tells the story of one of the Returned members of the royal court, Lightsong, and his search for the truth behind the Hallandren religion, as well as that of his own identity. The fourth story that the book follows is that of Vasher, a mysterious character with a talking sword named Nightblood and an impressive mastery of BioChromatic Breaths.

The book is set in the cosmere on the planet of Nalthis, home to the Shard Endowment. It is told from Vasher's, Siri's, Vivenna's, and Lightsong's points of view.

Main CharactersEdit

Siri is the main character of the book. She is the youngest princess of the small country Idris, and is known for being rebellious and colorful, rather than attempting to detract attention from herself as the Idrian doctrine of Austrism requires. On the day of Vivenna's twenty-second birthday, when Vivenna is required to be sent to Hallandren, their father decides to send Siri in her place. Siri's ability to adapt and love for bright colors allows her to learn to enjoy Hallandren in a way that Vivenna would never have been able to. This, in turn, allows her to befriend the God King and Lightsong, as well as help defeat a plot to cause a war between Hallandren and Idris.
Vivenna is Siri's sister, and the eldest child of the king of Idris. She is the perfect daughter: responsible, caring, and completely devoted to Austre. There is a contract with Hallandren that requires her to be sent to marry the God King and bear him a child(which will be still-born and become the next God King) on her twenty-second birthday. However, when the time comes for her to go, the king is unable to relinquish her, and takes advantage of the loose wording of the contract(it states only that "the Princess must be sent on Vivenna's twenty-second birthday") to send Siri in her place. Due to this, Vivenna goes through a brief depression, in which she feels like her only reason for living has been taken by Siri. She soon decides to go rescue Siri, however, and falls in with the mercenaries Denth and Tonk Fah, whom she hires to help rescue her sister.
Lightsong is the Returned god of bravery in the Hallandren court of gods. He has no memory of his life before being Returned, and his only connection to his past life is through Llarimar, his high priest, who is forbidden from speaking of it. Because he is skeptical of the idea that he is a god and he wishes to stop the people of Hallandren from putting their faith in him, he acts outwardly foolish. This, however, does not seem to have an effect on how people view him, as they claim he must have died incredibly bravely to be returned. He is good friends with the goddess Blushweaver, and eventually they end up working together.
Vasher's past and motivations are largely shrouded in mystery until the end of the book, when he reveals that he is one of the Five Scholars of Nalthis. He is presented as the villain until the middle of the book, when it is revealed that he is working against a war between Idris and Hallandren. He is quiet and unwilling to talk about his past, but there is something about him which makes Vivenna trust him. He is in possession of the sword Nightblood, as well as large amounts of BioChromatic Breath.


Warbreaker is set in the cosmere on the planet of Nalthis.

Magic SystemEdit

All individuals are born with a single Breath, which can be willingly transferred or given away to another individual. A Breath can be thought of as a soul, or as the manifestation of the 'sixth sense'. A person with no Breaths is called a Drab. Drabs find it difficult to perceive color and do not experience the 'sixth sense' or the odd sensation resulting from someone watching one unobserved. The prominent use of magic on Nalthis is called Awakening, and is reliant on the presence of color and verbal Commands given by the magic user, as well as the use of Breath.

There are several manifestations of BioChromatic magic:

A person that holds multiple Breaths gains certain innate abilities, such as perfect pitch, the ability to sense life, and a resistance to disease. The various amounts of Breath required to obtain these abilities are referred to as Heightenings.
The use of Breaths to bring inanimate objects to life, draining color from nearby objects. The actions of the Awakened object are dependent on the Command used at the time of Awakening. Breaths used to Awaken an object can usually be recovered by the Awakener, returning the object to normal.
Corpses (usually human) that have been Awakened. A technique discovered during the Manywar allowed for the creation of Lifeless with only a single Breath. Since then, Lifeless have been used extensively as laborers and soldiers.
Individuals that return to life after dying, but without any memories of their previous life. Returned have a single divine Breath, which grants them all the innate powers of the Fifth Heightening, as well as other unique powers such as the ability to change their form. A Returned must consume one of their held Breaths every week. If they are forced to consume or give away their divine Breath, they will die. In Hallandren, Returned are worshipped as gods.

It is important to note that all use or transfer of Breath is considered heresy in Idris.


Warbreaker was partially inspired by Brandon wanting to explore what a story with actual living gods would be like, as this was one of the premises of Elantris, but, in that story, the gods had lost their powers. To distinguish Warbreaker from Elantris, he made the Returned lack any real power—instead focusing their role in the story on politics, prophecy, and providing wisdom—and also made the Returned forget their past life.[2] Warbreaker was also inspired by some scenes Brandon had been imagining from the beginning, like Vasher finally drawing Nightblood in Chapter 56 and Lightsong healing Susebron in Chapter 57.[3][4]

Warbreaker was also released for free online as it was written, allowing readers to see the rough drafts and deleted scenes years before it was published. Brandon did this despite discouragement from his teams and agent at Tor.[1]

Publication HistoryEdit


  • United States rights to Tor
  • Audio rights (unabridged) to Recorded Books
  • Audio rights (dramatic abridgment) to Graphic Audio
  • Chinese rights (complex, Taiwan) to Gaea
  • Czech rights to Talpress
  • German rights to Heyne
  • Italian rights to Fanucci
  • Polish rights to MAG
  • Spanish rights to Ediciones B
  • UK rights to Gollancz
  • French rights to Calmann-Levy
  • Bulgarian rights to Studio of A
  • Iranian rights to Houpaa

Cover GalleryEdit

Interior ArtEdit


  • Warbreaker was inspired by Dadradah, one of the religions that Sazed preached about, which focused on worshipping art.[6]
  • Brandon's editor told him that his next story after Elantris and Mistborn had to have some color to it, since those stories were both dark, so he replied that he would then write about a color based magic system.[7]


  • Chosen by Library Journal as one of the 5 best SF&F novels of 2009
  • Chosen by Barnes & Noble as one of the 5 best SF&F novels of 2009
  • Chosen by The Onion A.V. Club as a Best of 2009
  • Nominated for the 2010 David Gemmell Legend Award
  • Nominated for 2009 Romantic Times Award, Best Epic Fantasy
  • An ALA Top Five Fantasy of 2009
  • 24 on NY Times hardcover list[8]

Statistical AnalysisEdit

Warbreaker consists of one prologue, fifty-eight chapters, and one epilogue, reaching a total 196,014 word count. There are six different unique point-of-view characters in a total of 110 POVs.

Word Count 196,014
Page Count 592 Tor hardback
Chapter Count 60 Including prologue and epilogue
PoV Characters 6
PoV Count 110


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