Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Warbreaker Group Read, Final

The book has been finished, the story wrapped. All that's left now is the final batch of questions. I'll offer my final thanks to Naithin and Amanda for hosting (Amanda did the questions this week). It was a blast.

1. There were a whole bunch of character revelations in this last section of the book. We now know who Warbreaker is, and what Blushweaver's motivations are, and who was behind the war, and the intentions of several characters we suspected. How do you feel, now that everything's out in the open? 

Surprised that Brandon surprised me. Let me elaborate. For this group read I bought the annotated e-book version. Now that I've finished, I'm going back through all of the notes that Brandon has shared about the story. It's very interesting and sort of like a gold mine as a writer (who holds Brandon in very high esteem).

He mentions that he set out to make this book a story of reversals, both for the characters and for him as a writer. I think Sanderson fans can agree that it has Brandon's fingerprints all over it, but it is a bit different for him. I don't usually sit down to read one of his novels and expect so many twists. As such, I was very pleasantly surprised. I thought I saw some of the twists coming, but definitely not all of them.

The most surprising for me? Vasher as a Returned/man of ancient repute. I mean, I knew he was a badass, but I didn't even think about Returned outside of the Hallandren pantheon. I guess I just supposed they all died like in Idris.

Now, I can't help but imagine a society of vampire-like Returned, prowling the darkness for easy prey... Brandon always makes me want to write fan fic.

2. At the beginning of our group read, I asked if you thought the Returned actually were divine. We saw Lightsong change his mind on his own divinity, and learned a bit more about the Returned. Has your answer about divinity changed, then, since the beginning of the book? 

I don't know that my answer has changed. I suppose I still harbor the belief that there is some greater deity sending these folks back. Call them "Gifts of the Creator" or something. Again, they would fit more as angels in my understanding than gods. They possess more of a divine purpose than any inherent divinity. Still, that is something that sets them above the bourgeois.

3. Now that we've seen Nightblood in action, firsthand, and know more about its history, what do you think about it as an object? What are your thoughts about Vasher's relationship with the sword?

As I mentioned above, I may be cheating a bit by reading Brandon's notes (I'm not finished yet, only about halfway). He mentions that his drive behind Nightblood was to attempt to make a sword as an active character in the story, something he hadn't claimed to have seen a lot of. I think he nails it. In fact, I almost wanted to see more of the Nightblood we get at the end. Am I the only one that found myself developing into a Vasher/Viv shipper? Nightblood is like the third wheel there and -- almost -- adorable. In an awesome, I-will-kill-all-the-things kind of way.

The concept of the dark sword swooping in like a knight in shining armor, trying to save his owner was pretty cool. It'd be neat of Vasher/Viv could "teach" the sword (I could see Viv doing this, like a tutor), and it becoming less chaotic in the future. It'd be cool to be able to use it without it killing you, for instance. Like it could moderate it's own breath usage (only drawing for a killing blow or something).

4. Lastly, what are your final thoughts on Warbreaker? How did it compare to other books you've read, and to other Sanderson, if you've read more by him?

Like I said above, it was a lot more twisty than a traditional Sanderson novel, as intended. As I read the notes, I find myself nodding with everything Brandon says. It sounds very fanboyish of me, but I've read a lot about different writers' processes, and I don't always agree with a lot of their decisions (something that set me writing in the first place). Brandon is one of the few I can say I almost always agree with, and even when I don't, generally trust that he knows better. I've seen enough of the output to know that he knows his craft.

The book itself is a wonderful, standalone fantasy novel. It is very self-contained, yet left me wanting more. Thankfully, Brandon has mentioned that he has a bit of a desire to write a sequel at some point (no plans yet). I would recommend this book for someone that, say, is a big mainstream thriller reader but might like to see what fantasy is all about. It moves enough that you don't really get bogged down in description (a common complain about fantasy), and plays with a lot of old tropes in new ways. Something for the initiated and un-initiated, if you will.

I'm going to finish up the notes and then I'm diving into some Rothfuss. The first person is good for me right now (current project is 1st POV), and he's another big name in the fantasy genre. Good stuff.

This group read was great, and I'll be keeping my eyes open for similar things in the future. It was my first time doing something like this, and I found it very enjoyable. Sort of blogging meets book club. Perfect for me.

On a side note, as I was answering these questions, a part of me was transported back to high school English classes. We always had worksheets to fill out along with the book we were reading. You know, the one that everyone found the cliff notes for or rented the movie? Yeah, I read all those, and happily filled out the questions. I may have been the only one in my class that found something positive to say about Madam Bovary. (Not that it's poorly written or anything. Just, well, depressing.)

This was sort of like that, only no one was grading. And probably more fun for the lack of grading. (You all get gold stars in my grade book!). Is it weird that the memories are fond for me?


Anonymous said...

Nope not weird, I liked answering questions on the books we read in school too ;)

I could so see Vivenna teaching Nightblood that would be great, I would also have liked to see her and Vasher get together too, maybe in the sequel...

Matt said...

Good. I'll sleep better now. And dream of golden stars. :-)

Looks-Mostly-Harmless said...

I find that answering questions about the books I read makes me appreciate them more. It brings out much more of their complexity and makes you deal with them in different way: reading more actively rather than just passively enjoying the 'ride'!

Naithin said...

Agreed, Sue.

I enjoy these group reads immensely. I don't think I'd want to tackle more than one at a time like some of you crazy kids have been, but they are immensely fun.

Matt; awesome insights and while I was resisting the urge to go through the annotated version, now I think I'm simply going to have to.

Random thought while reading your response re: Nightblood.

I just finished saying on Grace's blog that I could easily see how Nightblood went so wrong; evil is just too broad a concept to in any way accurately convey with will/intent while Awakening it.

...But yes, I just thought, heck, what if it's understanding isn't as faulty as we're lead to believe... and that the Breath itself IS evil?


For the record, I'm still going with the first idea rather than the random one now, there is too much to support the fact Nightblood just had no idea.

Still, that would be a remarkably interesting twist.

Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings said...

I definitely didn't realize that Vasher was Peacegiver/Kalad, but I totally guessed that he was an immortal from some time back in the day. I expected him to be like the little brother equivalent or something xD And I find it interesting that that was a surprise to so many people where as the bad guy reveals were the things most surprising to me, go figure!

Matt said...

Agreed and agreed.

Sentience implies (to me at least) some ability to learn and change.

I think the Breath has to be neutral for Brandon's Cosmere to work out. Ruin and Preservation were opposed. There is only one shard on Warbreaker's world, marking it as "neutral." I think he indicated that only on paired planets are there actual opposing forces.

Then again, what's to say "opposing" has to be "evil" and "good." It'd be interesting to see a pair that offered two equivalent, opposing forces that were neither good nor evil.

Also, my brain hurts now. :-)

nrlymrtl said...

I can definitely see how someone into thrillers or modern-day action fiction would like this book. It is a good cross-over book in that regard.

I am also craving some Rothfuss but I was going to hold off. I saw something over at Once Upon A Time that they are thinking about a group read later in the year. (Feel free to correct me if I am wrong on that).

Matt said...

Yes, they are. Tentatively planned for like September, so a ways off.

The wife and I snagged the first book (Name of the Wind) via Audible. We were looking at two 13 hour drives last week for a vacation, and audiobooks sure do help pass the time. Found out about the group read later. Sorta over halfway in at this point (we didn't listen for the full 26 hours, but there was a good amount of listening).

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