Book Review: Mistborn – The Final Empire

Author: Brandon Sanderson200px-Mistborn-thefinalempirecover
Genre: High Fantasy

Synopsis: For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.
But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

This is the first book that I have read from Brandon Sanderson as I could never get into the Wheel of Time series. I’ve heard that he finished that series well, and so I wondered how good his own works were. After a little research, I decided on reading the Mistborn Trilogy. I must say that I was not let down when I finally finished the novel. I felt inspired to keep pushing on finishing my own fantasy novel that has long been in the works.

The story revolves around Kelsier, a self-proclaimed hero and thief who devises a plan to try to assassinate the near immortal Emperor of the land.  He then goes about gathering people to help him with his completely insane plan which include a lowly street urchin named Vin. She then learns that she is a Mistborn Allomancer, a person born with the ability to burn metal to use this world’s version of magic. It is this relationship between Vin and Kelsier that forms the heart of this first book in the trilogy.

Brandon Sanderson uses the training that Kelsier gives Vin as a way of building his world for the reader and he does so masterfully. Though the history lessons that Vin receives are colored by Kelsier’s point of view, they still do an excellent job of providing enough information for the reader to get a foundation of what the world is like. I felt like this colored perception of history also helps the reader sympathize and attach to the main characters more deeply. Sanderson does an excellent job of feeding us just enough information at a time that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. By the end of the book I was still wanting to know more as there were so many things left answered (and thus create demand for the other two books in the series).

In addition to the history and the way of life on this world, a major focus of this first novel was to introduce Sanderson’s version of magic. I love it for its originality and simplicity; a magic system so simple that anyone can easily understand how it works, yet so vast in its effectiveness and power. Allomancy is the magic of using metal to create an effect. Allomancers are people who can ingest shavings of metal and then “burn” those metals to fuel their powers. In the first novel, there are several types of metal that each produce a different effect such as Pewter which allows an Allomancer to increase their physical attributes or Tin which allows an Allomancer to heighten their senses. I could tell that Sanderson spent a good deal of time figuring out his system with good limits to their power as to avoid any sort of deus ex machin problems later down the line. Overall it is a very unique magic system that was enjoyable to learn along with Vin.

The plot of the novel was good, though did suffer a little with some parts that seemed to drag on when it wasn’t necessary. This created some pacing problems in the middle of the book, but was not a hinderance to the overall story. When the book finally goes into its final act, it goes full throttle until the very last page and had me gripped. There was a surprising twist in near the end that I did not see coming which doesn’t happen very often and it only further convinced me that the story and the main characters were good ones.

Thank said, however, some of the minor characters were less memorable and somewhat one dimension. It was a bit odd to see the story place an emphasis on these secondary characters as being important to the overall success of Kelsier’s mission, but throughout the story they were barely there and barely provided any extra insight that Kelsier or Vin were not already providing. Now in hindsight, some of these secondary characters do grow in the other two books to take a more prominent role so it felt really like Sanderson was trying to introduce the characters now so he wouldn’t need to bother with it later.

Overall I was pretty impressed with this book and I immediately moved onto the other two. I will give a review on them later one. For now, Mistborn: The Final Empire was a great read and I definitely recommend it for those fantasy readers who love a good world building story.

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