by Brandon Sanderson

Reviewed by Coral

In a world where everyone is born with an extra breath - a BioChromatic breath - people who can buy enough of them can gain immense power. A few extra breaths can allow someone to see colours more vividly, hundreds of breaths can allow someone to give life to organic based objects, enough breaths can give someone a taste of immortality.

Then there are the Returned; men and women who died heroic deaths and who were chosen to come back to life. They need an extra BioChromatic each week in order to prolong their second life. In Hallandren the Returned are worshipped as Gods, the buying and selling of BioChromatic breaths is commonplace as are Awakeners - those who use breaths to animatic organic based objects. In Idris, the Returned are merely people granted an extra week of life. No extra breaths are given to them and they die instead of living in a luxurious palace with priests to watch over their every minute. No breaths are bought or sold in Idris, where even bright colours are seen as an affront to their god Austre.

Idris and Hallandren have been on the brink of war for over twenty years. Back then, the promise of a royal princess - Vivenna - as a bride to Hallandren's God King Susebron was enough to prevent a war. But now that the time has come to send his daughter off to marry when war seemingly inevitable no matter what he does, Idris' king has second thoughts. He decides to send his youngest daughter, the rebellious Siri, instead.

Forbidden by his priests to talk to her husband and ordered to have an heir as soon as possible, Siri finds herself in the middle of a political power play she is not prepared for. How can she protect her homeland and stop the war? Who can she trust, when everyone seems to be keeping something from her?

When Vivenna is told of her father's plan to replace her with Siri, she is angry. She has prepared her whole life for this while Siri hasn't. Afraid for her sister, Vivenna follows her secretly to Hallandren, determined to rescue her and to destroy Hallendren before they can destroy Idris.

Can the sisters somehow unravel the tensions between Hallandren and Idris? Or are they doomed to be pawns in a much bigger game?

I enjoyed this book, for the most part.

I thought the plot was kind of slow moving but it did keep my interest so that I always wanted to find out what would happen. I think it was because we were kept on the periphery of the plot, so that we never saw the larger picture until the very end, as the characters we were following were only chipping away at the very edges of what was going on.

For most of the book I didn't enjoy Vivenna's story line. It gets better near the end, but I felt like it was the plot that dragged the book down for me. I blame this story line for why it took me nearly a month to finish this book.

There was a part of the book where a character was trying to explain the rules behind BioChromatic breaths that just confused me. I think if you are going to make up a fantastical world, you should be able to at least explain the fantastical elements in an easily understandable way.

The book is getting a low grade B, because I did really want to know what was happening, but not always enough to read through Vivenna chapters.

Grade: B