It’s been a while since I read a fantasy series. Looking back at my Goodreads read list, I see Reamde (Neal Stephenson), Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), The Racketeer (John Grisham), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Philip K. Dick) and the like. I’ve heard a lot of praise for Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy, so I decided to give it a go.
I started with the first one, The Final Empire, and was totally hooked. I finished it less than a day after I started it, and now I’m looking forward to reading the other two.
The Review :
The Premise :
A thousand years ago evil came to the land. A dark lord rules through the aristocratic families and ordinary folk labor as slaves in volcanic ash fields. A troublemaker arrives. A rumored revolt depends on an untrustworthy criminal and a young girl who must master Allomancy, metal magic.
The World :
“Ash fell from the sky.”
The first line pretty much sets the tone for the world. It’s a bleak, unforgiving one. The commoners, or skaa, are treated as less than human by the ruthless nobility, who live lives of luxury. But they too, fear the Lord Ruler, the mysterious, godlike tyrant of the Final Empire. The majority of the action happens in Luthadel, the empire’s capital.
This being a fantasy book, some sort of magic is expected. And there is one, called Allomancy. Sanderson has created a refreshingly new magic system, quite different from the typical spell based one that is almost the norm. The power here comes from metals and alloys. Allomancers have the ability to ingest and “burn” certain metals, which gives them certain capabilities. Most can burn only one metal, and are called Mistings. Some rare ones though, have the power to burn all the metals – these are the titular Mistborn.
I won’t give too much info, since discovering a whole new world is half the fun, but suffice to say that it’s mysterious, exciting and well-crafted.
The Plot :
Minor Spoilers Alert!
The novel has two main characters. There’s Kelsier, the Survivor of Hathsin, who’s out to overthrow the final empire and destroy the Lord Ruler himself, a task that many of his own team believe impossible. And then there’s Vin – a sixteen year old girl, who is, unsurprisingly, a Mistborn. So is Kelsier. Then there are others – Breeze, Ham, Clubs, Spook, Marsh. For a nice change, the names are all simple and easy to pronounce. No apostrophes anywhere.
Unfortunately, most of the characters though likeable, are as simple as their names. They all have specific roles in the plan, and that pretty much defines who they are, one or two quirky ones aside. Vin is the only exception.
But the plot moves at such a blistering pace, you never have time to get upset over this. There are plenty of twists and turns and shocking revelations that you just won’t be able to put the book down until the very end. It’s certainly the second-best thing about the book. The first, though, has to be the world building.
This is the first of a trilogy, but the book doesn’t leave you hanging at the end. There’s a very definite conclusion that winds up a lot of what happens in book one, but there’s plenty of questions left unanswered.
The Verdict :
Mistborn : The Final Empire is awesome. Seriously, if you like fantasy go read it. Heck, if you like good books, go read it! The rather flat characters aside, the book is bucket loads of fun with some interesting moral quandaries.
My Rating : 4.75/5