Sunday, 23 April 2017

'Warbreaker' by Brandon Sanderson (2009)

Synopsis: Warbreaker is a standalone high-fantasy novel and is set in a world called Nalthis. In this world there is a complex system of magic known as the BioChroma and certain individuals will sometimes come back from the dead ("The Returned"). There are also two nations in this world called Idris and Hallandran which were once part of the same kingdom and now clash with each other over almost everything - religion, politics, aesthetics, territory, lifestyle, and the use of magic. As the tension between these nations is steadily increasing, the King of Idris has arranged for his eldest daughter Vivenna to one day marry the God-King of Hallandran (a powerful Returned) so that she can provide him with a divine heir. To prepare her for this, Vivenna has been extensively tutored in politics and diplomacy since childhood. However, much to everyone's astonishment, the king changes his mind at the very last minute and decides to send Vivenna's younger, tomboyish sister Siri away instead. Siri is completely unprepared for her new life in Hallandran with its imposing palaces, disdainful priests, and her new husband who seems to be ignoring her (and whom Siri isn't even supposed to speak to or touch outside of the bedchamber). At the same time, Vivenna, who is usually very calm and composed, is so outraged to have had her purpose in life snatched away from her that she then secretly travels to Hallandran and begins to work with a small band of mercenaries and rebels with the aim of rescuing her sister. But both princesses then discover that all is not as it seems. Siri soon realises that her new husband Susebron isn't at all the cold, cruel tyrant that she thought he was but is instead a very shy and sweet mute who is nothing more than a figurehead. Siri secretly begins to teach Susebron to communicate with her and the two of them rapidly fall in love. However, Siri is also beginning to suspect that his priests are plotting to assassinate them both. And Vivenna then makes the horrifying discovery that her actions may have set the wheels in motion for a war that could tear both Hallandran and Idris apart. Desperate to put everything right again she then teams up with a mysterious man called Vasher who has a powerful, sentient weapon. Meanwhile, an unconventional and cynical Returned god called Lightsong finds himself becoming increasingly disturbed by the changing political dynamics in the gods' court. Almost in spite of himself he then takes it upon himself to befriend Siri and to investigate a mysterious murder that the priests seem to be hushing up.

Warbreaker was a great read! It contained everything that I've come to expect from a Brandon Sanderson story... a gripping plot with unexpected twists, humorous dialogue, terrific world-building, a unique and detailed magic system, the themes of faith and identity, highly engaging and likeable main characters (especially Lightsong who was my favourite!), and plenty of political intrigue, mystery, action and suspense. I also appreciated how colourful and tropical the setting of Hallandran was as it made for a very nice and interesting contrast to the world of Scadriel in The Mistborn books.

The only reason why I haven't given this book a five star rating is because I was somewhat disappointed with its ending, as it was very rushed and the sequel for this book that Sanderson eventually plans to write (Nightblood) is set up in rather an awkward way. Having said that I still really enjoyed this book and I do hope that Sanderson will eventually get around to writing its sequel as its characters and world definitely deserves another story.

Brandon Sanderson is definitely one of my favourite writers now: I have yet to be disappointed in anything that he's written and I'm very glad that he's such a prolific author and that I still have a lot more from him left to read :)

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. It allows book bloggers (and non-book bloggers) to write about pretty much anything, bookish or otherwise (i.e. share exciting plans for the weekend, rants on things they've encountered during the week, etc).

1. Hello again, everyone! This post has been lying in my draft box for ages and I'm finally finishing it off today - as I got back from an 11 hour flight from the U.S. just this morning and I'm desperately trying to fight off the jet lag and stay awake! So, yes, the most notable thing that I have to share is that I've been on holiday! It was my second trip to the U.S. (you can read about my first visit in my last Bookish and Not So Bookish post!), I was there for just over a week, and I was visiting my good friend Samara who lives in Seattle. I would certainly never have predicted that my second trip to the States would be less than six months after my first; in fact the only reason I was able to go on this trip was because of a tax rebate from the government as it turns out that I was paying too much tax between the years 2014-16! Anyway, Samara and I had a lot of fun late-night conversations and she also took me to see Pike Place Market, the MoPop Museum, the University of Washington campus, Gas Works Park (which features quite prominently in 10 Things I Hate About You), the Columbia Center Observation Deck, Bainbridge Island, and the Seattle Art Museum. I also went on a short side-trip over to Victoria in British Columbia so I got to see a little bit of Canada on this trip as well! In Victoria I went to their Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf districts and I also had my first Tim Horton's and did some shopping at Munro's Books (where I bought copies of Garth Nix's Sabriel and Hannah Kent's Burial Rites). Yeah... I'd say that it's been a pretty great week! :D

2. Oh and as I didn't manage to spend all of my spending money during my trip I think I'm going to be putting it to good use by going clothes shopping at some point in the next week :D

3. I turned 29 in January (I'm having a very hard time accepting that I'm almost 30!) and I've also had my bedroom redecorated since my last Bookish and Not So Bookish post. I've had the walls re-painted and I've had new furniture, a new carpet, and new curtains put in.

4. I've also started to collect funko pops for my bedroom as I wanted to jazz up my bookshelves a little bit and the dolls are so very cute. At this moment in time I only want a small collection but from what I've gathered it can be a very addictive hobby so who knows how many I'll eventually end up with, lol?!

5. The best books that I've read since my last B&NSB post have been Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray, Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, and Katherine by Anya Seton - all brilliant reads!

6. It looks like the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel-Pie Society is finally getting made into a movie! I've only read the book once (am hoping to re-read it fairly soon though) and that was quite a few years ago but I remember really loving it and thinking that it could make for a wonderful movie. And the cast for this movie looks great so far as well! Lily James, Michiel Huisman, Penelope Wilton, Matthew Goode and Jessica Brown Findlay :)

7. I have a new phone! I've gone from having an iPhone 5c to an iPhone SE in Rose Gold. Ooh, get me! :D I know the SE isn't the fanciest iPhone out there (it's basically a more updated version of their 6c I believe) but I can't really afford Apple's newer products and I'm honestly really happy with it. My new phone only costs me 50p more a month than my old phone but has three times its amount of storage and data (I was constantly having to delete apps on my old one!)

8. Sadly I think I'm going to have to give my local bookshop a wide berth for a while as I was sitting in their café a couple of weeks ago and happened to notice something moving around under my table. So I looked down and saw a mouse (or possibly even a rat) running around by my feet! I was pretty freaked out and left pretty sharpish after that but not before informing the barista who told me that they've been having problems with them for a while now. So, yeah, I think I'm going to be buying most of my books online for a while *shudders*

9. I hate to be negative - especially since almost everyone I follow online seems to have loved this film - but I've seen the new Beauty and the Beast and I was honestly so frustrated with it :( The 2015 Cinderella is still by far and away my favourite of the new Disney live-action films. The animated Beauty and the Beast is probably my favourite Disney film and although I never for one minute believed that this new live-action version could top it I genuinely believed that it could be a great "companion piece" to that film. But this film was just... *groans* Alright, there were some positive aspects to the new version to be fair. The castle looked awesome, Luke Evans and Josh Gad were both great (their musical theatre backgrounds really show!) and on a shallow note I also very much appreciated the opening scene in which the Prince gets turned into the Beast (as Dan Stevens was giving me major David Bowie from Labyrinth vibes). But aside from that... for the vast majority of the time I was just wishing that I was watching the original version instead. The big musical numbers in this new version had none of the energy and animation (pun intended! :D ) of the original's, the pacing seemed off in places, and the new songs that were in it were forgettable. Emma Watson seems like a very nice and intelligent person in real-life but I still have yet to be sold by her as an actress and I certainly think that she was miscast as Belle. The blatant auto-tuning to her voice had me cringing at times, I didn't sense any chemistry between her and Dan Stevens, and to me her Belle just didn't have any of the warmth and liveliness of Paige O'Hara's. And finally, because this rant is getting a bit longer than I intended, the new plot additions and backstories for the characters added very little to the story and even created some logical inconsistencies i.e. SPOILERS (highlight to read) Why didn't Belle just use the Beast's magic book to transport her back to her father? And if the Enchantress has been living in Belle's town for the whole time then how come she never placed a curse on Gaston? We know she likes to punish the arrogant, which Gaston definitely is, and he even insulted her on one occasion! 

10. And now that I've finally finished this post I'm going to have a good long shower and...

Good night!