Review: “Mistborn: The Final Empire” by Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn The Final Empire

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 color 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.

After devouring and enjoying Elantris, I decided to pick up the first book in what may be Brandon Sanderson’s most famous series: Mistborn. And I can see why so many people recommended it to me. Holy wow.

Things I loved

The unique world-building. Instead of traditional wizardly magic, or magic that takes a formless power and shapes it via one mechanism or another, Sanderson based the magic in his world on the idea that some people can consume or “burn” certain metals and alloys to achieve defined effects. I’d love a glimpse into Sanderson’s mind, that he was able to come up with something like this! But I’m not sure you could convince me to swallow a lump of iron, no matter what the supernatural outcome…

A variety of characters that I grew to love. Despite what the blurb suggests, Kelsier and Vin aren’t trying to save the world alone — they are part of a crew of thieves contracted to do a “job”: overthrow the government. Even though some of the crew were crazy-impulsive (Kelsier), others were vain (Breeze), others were surly (Marsh), and some made cynicism an art (Vin), I loved all of the main cast to one degree or another. The fact that these characters — all of these characters — have flaws makes them seem more real.

Of all of them, Vin is the one that experiences the most character growth, probably followed by Kelsier and the nobleman Elend. This are the book’s three main characters (each sharing the POV at one point or another), so that’s to be expected.

The sense of a larger story. Because this is the first book in a trilogy, there are a lot of things left unresolved, most of them in the backstory. It gives the world a sense of depth and makes me eager for the next instalment. For example (note: very light spoilers follow), what happened to the Lord Ruler at the Well of Ascension? What’s the go with the ancient, apparently amorphous bad guy known as “the Deepness”? How is said amorphous, gloomy bad guy connected to the amorphous, gloomy mists that shroud everything come nightfall? Are the ash mounds really volcanoes that will erupt and kill us all?!

The plot twist. It’s one of those ones where you feel like you should have seen it coming afterwards, but that isn’t blindingly obvious beforehand. (At least, it wasn’t to me.) Nuff said.

Things I struggled with a little (especially at first)

The talking. A lot of time, the characters are talking, plotting and scheming. Sometimes they are confiding or manipulating too. This was often levied with humour or with emotion, but early on in the book I found some of the crew’s planning sessions a bit of a slog.

The metal magic. Once Kelsier explained how the metals work to Vin, I was fine. But there’s one scene from his point of view before that, where he’s doing all sorts of things with different metals, and I got really, really lost.

Other observations

There is no sex (there’s barely even a kiss); however, there is quite a bit of violence and some fairly grisly corpses. I wasn’t bothered but YMMV.

Four-and-a-half stars


2 Comments on “Review: “Mistborn: The Final Empire” by Brandon Sanderson”

  1. Green Embers says:

    So yeah, there won’t ever really be sex in a Brandon Sanderson novel, not explicit in anyway. He is one of my favorite authors, it is fun to see people discovering his works. 😀

  2. […] would strongly suggest not trying to read it as a stand-alone novel. I reviewed the first book here if you want to decide whether this series is for you. That review also largely holds true for book […]

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