Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (author of the Mistborn series) has just given me more data to support my opinion of him as a writer. This is a man with great imagination for building worlds and systems of magic, and for making them a relevant and organic part of his story arcs. I found Warbreaker to be a real treat. The story involves two kingdom, Idris and Hallendren, that split several centuries ago. In Idris, the old royal family of Hallendren, rules and maintains an uneasy truce with the more powerful Hallendren. Hallendren is now ruled by a group of immortal gods who serve a much feared and mysterious God King. Long ago, the Idrian king signed a peace treaty with Hallendren in which his daughter, when she came of age, would be sent to Hallendren to be the bride of the God King. Vivenna had been trained her whole life for this role, and her father loved her with his whole heart. When the time came to send her to his enemies, he couldn't bear to let her go and decided to send his youngest daughter Siri instead. While Vivenna was mature, learned, and stately, Siri was a wild child. Her whole life had been lived in rebellion because she saw herself as unimportant and unnecessary. With her untamed and disrespectful attitude, her father decided that she was expendable in the name of peace.
The story then follows Siri as she is given over to the God King, a being whose reputation in Idris is one of a hideous monster. Yet Siri finds a man who is not what she has understood. Once Siri is chosen to satisfy the treaty, Vivenna's self-image unravels as the role that she has dedicated herself to play for her father and her kingdom is taken away from her. She decides to sneak away to Hallendren to save her sister and restore her image as a hero to her kingdom. Living in the streets, working with Idrian rebels in Hallendren, and being forced to live in and among the people of the slums, Vivenna comes to understand who she really is.
The story is very well laid out with a very intricate plot of forces working to bring Hallendren and Idris toward war. Both Siri and Vivenna are striving within the bounds of a very unfamiliar world to understand the rules and the politics, to adapt to the lifestyles, and to recognize the different factions and how to ally themselves with them, all in the name of preserving their people. Simply a gripping and compelling human drama wrapped in a neat bow of heroism, conflict, determination, love, and well-developed fantasy. Sanderson plans another entry in this series at some point in the future. The present working title is Nightblood.