Mistborn – The Final Empire
Publication Date: July 2006
Page count: 647
Goodreads: See here
Plot at a Glance:
In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with colour once more?
In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage— Allomancy, a magic of the metals.
Back in December, just before my dreaded blogging slump hit, I read this fantastic book. I’d made the decision at the time to put off writing my review until the new year, in order to read as much as I could before January hit. Of course, we all now know that January was just not my month, and reviewing this fully fell by the wayside. Still, it was too good a book to not pay tribute to on my blog, so I’ve dug out my notes so I can finally go through it with you all today.
Brandon Sanderson is one of the most recognizable young authors in the fantasy fiction game today. He’s a wordsmith with an incredible output to be envied, and a wonderfully creative mind perfectly suited for the genre he writes in. I have read one Sanderson book before – The Way of Kings,which was the 1,000+ page tome, and the first in his epic Stormlight Archives series. I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge I suppose, which is why I started with one of his more massive novels over this smaller series that he penned earlier in his career.
The Mistborn series is an epic fantasy story that begins with the the question we all ask any time we read a novel, or watch an incredibly entertaining movie: “What if the Dark Lord/Big Bad won?” Things are as appropriately dark in the setting as you would expect with a brutal overlord ruling over the entire population of the world.
Mist descends upon the streets as soon as the sun sets, making travel dangerous for all but the most well defended. Ash falls from the sky, coating the land in a layer of black filth, filth which the low caste “Skaa” slave population are tasked with sweeping each day so that the noble lords and ladies might traverse the streets more easily.
The Skaa really get the bum’s rush of things as the nobility are also often blessed with Allomantic powers – magical abilities that allow the user to consume and spend metals in exchange for control over certain abilities. Most Allomancers can only use a single type of metal, and control a single power. However, a rare few are “Mistborn” and can control the entire lot of metal casting, making them a valuable weapon and commodity to a world in which worth is prescribed by the danger you pose towards others. The story begins when Vin, a street Skaa, realizes that she is Mistborn, and must learn to control her powers while trying to survive life within a brutal regime.
The magic system is where this book truly shines. Too many authors trying to incorporate magic into fantasy forget that fantasy still needs rules, or your witches/mages/what-have-you end up overpowered. Sanderson is a pro at avoiding that, by developing a finely tuned magic system with rules that are not only well defined, but also end up being integral to the plot. If characters run out metal, they also run out of the ability to protect themselves. If characters end up matched up against a more powerful Allomancer, or one with a stronger power, trouble is sure to abound. It helps to up the danger in scenes, especially when magic is being used during battle.
Speaking of battles, this book is rife with them. As Vin learns to master her power, she and her new allies encounter many enemies that test their mettle. Brandon Sanderson’s fight scenes are unique in that they become almost entirely reliant on magic in order to work, and yet they remain fast-paced and really great fun to visualize while reading.
The cast of characters is great and diverse. I grew to love Vin, Kelsier and the extended crew of characters that came together over the course of the story. They’re each well developed, full of compelling motivations, personalities and backgrounds that set them well apart from one another. Like his magic systems, it’s clear that Sanderson excels at creating characters with rich cultural history that is a true joy to piece together over the course of the story.
Also, I loved the bad guy in this book. He was definitely a great dark lord. Sanderson doesn’t shy away from the evils that dictators often commit when given too much control for too long. I thought the “heist” plot of Vin and her companions working against the Lord Ruler was really great fun to read, and a unique take on a very familiar and well worn genre.
This is a great stepping-on point for readers looking to get into Sanderson’s works. Fans of fantasy simply must check this out at some point!
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 = 5/5 stars! Sure to be another fun adventure!
How excited are you for this series? What other great fantasy series do you love, or are looking forward to? Let me know below!