on February 16, 2007
I purchased Mistborn: The Final Empire entirely randomly without even reading the blurb inside the dust jacket simply because I liked the cover artwork. Fortunately, this time my whimsical purchase paid off handsomely.
Mistborn is Brandon Sanderson's second novel, but he writes with a confidence that takes most authors years of experience. Sanderson combines a seemingly common plot of "ragtag heroes vs. big bad overlord" with portions of epistolary narrative and a serious allegorical exploration of the dangers of theocracy, classism and racism. He also includes an original and fascinating magic system for his characters: Allomancy.
Allomancy consists of the ingestion of various metals for use in unleashing special powers. Only the nobility seem to possess allomantic powers, but occasionally commoners manifest them as well -- if they have noble blood in their family tree. Allomantic abilities include super strength, the power of suggestion, being able to physically manipulate metal with one's body, etc. Most allomancers possess only one allomantic ability -- and are referred to as "mistings" -- but a lucky few allomancers possess ALL the allomantic abilities -- and they are referred to as "mistborn."
A young girl named Vin has grown up on the street and unknowingly uses allomancy for the benefit of the gang of confidence men who have taken her in. She is soon rescued from certain death at the hands of the authorities by rogue mistings led by a mistborn who dreams of freeing their land from the power of an evil seemingly-immortal ruler who has proclaimed himself a god -- and seems to have to power to back up his claim.
The novel works as an adventure story, a detective story and a heroic fantasy. I would heartily recommend Mistborn: The Final Empire to anyone. I've already lent my copy to everyone I know.
on November 6, 2009
Let it be known that, although I love fantasy books, I rarely go and find books of this genre by myself. My skill at finding great fantasy books isn't good, as I am often fooled by the pretty images on the cover. After my boyfriend, and his mother, and his mother's husband insisted that I really should read it, I had no other choice than to commit to it.
At first, the setting might seem to be the same as any other. Bad guy rules empire. Good-bad-guy wants to kill him, and save the world. Cute young woman helps him while discovering who she really is. But the story is much more than that; the characters are neither black nor white, but somewhere in between, and Sanderson's writing describe their fears, joices and dilemnas with depth. The magic's mechanics are interesting, but more than that, I enjoyed the author's understanding of what is leadership: choices, consequences, difficult decisions, the power of the words, etc. Even the ending leaves you uncertain.
This is the first in a trilogy, and I am looking forward to reading the next two books.
on March 9, 2008
After reading Elantris I didn't think Brandon Sanderson could do better, I was wrong! While a simple synopsis of the plot -a group seeks to overthrow the tyrannical God-emperor- might seem somewhat cliche, Mistborn The Final Empire takes that basic story and makes something truly unique out of it. As in his previous novel, Sanderson shows his amazing skill at creating believable multidimensional characters, and this novel also shows off a truly unique and well-conceived magic system that is unlike anything this fantasy fan has ever seen before. Actually it's TWO unique and well-conceived magic systems that interact with each other in interesting ways, which happen to be integral to the plot. This book also contains elements of high-adventure stories which may endear it to some of the non-fantasy reading crowd. Though this is the first book of a trilogy, the ending is quite satisfying in it's own right.
on December 11, 2010
Mistborn took a little getting used to, that''s why it was such slow reading at the beginning. But the world '- once you get to know it -' is mysterious and fantastical. How do I begin to describe it? Well, imagine a world that is dark and smoggy, full of falling flakes of ash... always falling and building up and having to be cleared away. There is no green in the city, there is no flicker of life, especially in the eyes of the skaa who are the peasants of the city. The Lord Ruler, one who rarely appears outside of his palace, controls even the amount of hope his peasants can feel. When he does appear in public ' it is obvious he could easily and dismissively destroy it and its people. At night, everyone barricades themselves inside their homes, fearing the mists for reasons they''ve forgotten. At night, all is muffled and silent. But, night time is when the most interesting things happen for Kelsier, a first and only survivor of the terrifying mining pits where the condemned are sent to work to their deaths. At night, Kelsier can move freely and undetected through the mists, up and down sheer walls, spinning from spire to spire. Why does he dare brave the Lord Ruler's wrath? He is a mistborn. And one seeking vengeance.
Mistborn use up the energy of certain metals and alloys to gain access to latent powers. By swallowing small flakes of pewter, for example, mistborn can enhance their physical endurance and strength, something which comes in handy when you want to survive a fatal blow from an opponent...'or wrench yourself free from the dungeons. Such people are rare, and are usually found in the ranks of the nobility. Kelsier himself is an exception. He was born among the skaa people, the dirt and sweat of the city. It is the skaa people who toil in the fields and fulfill all the menial labour -' all great nations need something to enslave, after all, don''t they? But, something is abnormal about the skaa people. Why don't they rebel? The sheer size of their population should easily be able to overwhelm any corrupt ruler. There is something more sinister at work in the streets of the Lord Ruler''s city, something a mistborn can detect. The Lord Ruler, O immortal one, keeps his secrets well hidden. Who are the Inquisitors, those skeletal beings with spikes driven through their eyes and horrifying skills at rendering bodies apart? They were once familiar men but now have become creatures with uncanny abilities, seemingly much stronger than even a mistborn. Kelsier is determined to help the skaa rebel against the Lord Ruler and this oppressive force that lies over his city. But he can''t do it alone.
Enter the crewmembers: Breeze, Ham, Clubs, Marsh, Spook, Dockson and Vin. Together they''ll form the grunt work for the secret rebellion, pitting their intelligence and skills towards a task that for thousands of years people have attempted and failed -' kill the Lord Ruler and reclaim their city.
Vin herself is a mistborn, but she never knew it until the day Kelsier found her and saved her from a potentially torturous death at the hands of an inquisitor. She is a slight wisp of a girl who prides herself in mistrusting others and keeping to the shadows. It will take a lot of trusting and getting used to newfound powers before this young beaten down skaa can transform into someone whose cleverness and instincts can very well determine the fate of the entire skaa rebellion.
So there''s my synopsis of the story, with a few tantalizing bits thrown in.
It's ridiculously easy to lose yourself in the story. That's just how Brandon Sanderson writes. Intensely, philosophically, emotionally -' it's all there.
Whenever you read about someone who''s agile and quick-thinking, descriptions get interesting. By burning steel and iron in their bellies, these mistborn can practically fly through the air. By burning copper or tin, they can detect or protect themselves from detection by other Allomancers (or people like them who can access powers using metals). Brandon Sanderson describes the antics of a mistborn with satisfying detail, like no other fight scene I''ve read yet. Just, for example, imagine someone having to describe a scene where Jackie Chan has to fight a whole mob of yakuza using trickery and acrobatics. To me, that''s daunting. But I relish reading about how Vin uses her brains and what available metals she has, exploiting their strengths and weaknesses with such intuition and ingeniousness that she always comes up with something to surprise her opponents.
The way the story is set up, there are secrets within secrets to be discovered. It kind of becomes a theme in the story. As you read, you uncover layers of them as Vin and Kelsier put two and two together, and gain a new realization about the world they live in and some potential tidbits about how to defeat the Lord Ruler. But -' you''ll still be surprised! At least, I was. The idea that there are still secrets to be discovered about the Lord Ruler keeps Kelsier hopeful that he will find a way to defeat him.
The Lord Ruler himself is a cryptic character. You hardly ever meet him. Most of the information you get about him comes from all those rumours and legends that people spread about the thing they fear. He also has some interesting history, so he''s more than just the evil villain stock character.
There are some noble themes threaded into the story too, notably of the immortality of hope. Kelsier, a 'prince of thieves' in his city, gets everything he knows and loves torn away from him and he is sent to the cruel pits to mine for a precious metal. Out of this hell, he discovered his powers, and he vowed to no longer be beaten down by the whips of the obligators and inquisitors, or the formless oppressiveness of the Lord Ruler himself. Even when his plans begin to fall apart, he keeps it together, because the common people look towards him as their leader, and he fiercely believes he and his crew can make that extra difference that will change the way things have been for thousands of years. Kelsier is determined to prove that hope is one thing that the Lord Ruler cannot completely wipe out. On the topic of the politics of leadership, Brandon Sanderson has lots of say.
Another interesting theme: the fine line between heroism and tyranny. Throughout the book, there are excerpts from an interesting logbook detailing the thoughts of a hero from the past'...a hero who was prophesied to end some abstract force of darkness and evil, back during the time when the Lord Ruler appeared and came into power. In his logbook he often questions his motives, questions his leadership, questions whether or not he deserves the looks of hope that the common people give him. It all forms an interesting philosophical backdrop to the story. It also nicely parallels Kelsier''s own doubts and the doubts of his crewmembers.
Read more reviews by Sharry at [...]
on May 28, 2008
Mistborn is a brilliant fantasy novel - full of believable, sympathetic characters who grow naturally throughout the novel and react realistically to what befalls them. What's more, the reader is drawn to actually give a damn about the majority of the main cast, which is, by my experience, pretty damn rare.
The dystopia Vin and her companions live in is painted vividly; the dialogue has that "snap" that elevates it well above average; the ending is clever and unexpected. All in all, I'm hard-pressed to find anything much to complain about with this, or its sequel, the Well of Ascension.
on November 10, 2015
This is the first Brandon Sanderson novel I’ve ever read, am I’m a little upset for not picking him up sooner! I’ve been so engrossed in cliche YA fantasy novels written by female authors (which isn’t a bad thing, stories just have a different perspective when a female character is created by a male author), and haven’t even thought to branch out until now.
I loved it. I feel like I say this a lot about the books I read, but hey, I just have good taste.
Sanderson has developed a vivid new world, dominated by the ashy shades of grey. He managed to give me such a clear understanding of this unique world without defaulting to using paragraphs of dull landscape description - which I applaud. His world building was effortless, and his world was a beautiful dystopia of dirty ash-falls, swirling night mist and “mythical” mist creatures.
Though the world was developed so vividly, so much is left a mystery - the unknown history of the world, the mysterious, “Godly”, “immortal” leader, Allomancy….
The main characters, Kelsier and Vin were just as refreshing and brilliant as their world. Kelsier, a slave turned rebel turned martyr was presented in such a way where I questioned his sanity, and when his plans were brought to light, I questioned how I ever doubted him! He’s mad, erratic, spontaneous, reckless, blunt, sarcastic and to top it off, a heroic genius. At no point do you stop questioning his motives and sanity until after the fact. I loved him. Vin too. Untrusting street urchin turned noble-lady-spy-rebel. All the characters in this book are just so diverse, from Elend to Sazed.
These’s rebellion, magic, mystery, noble balls, battle, political infiltration, forbidden romance…what more could you ask for?!
Though this book is over 500 pages, it seems to go by too fast. It’s faced paced, and invokes the “I need to go to bed but I need to keep going” mentality.
Total winner. I’ll for sure keep on with this series!
on November 30, 2012
Mistborn is a fantastic adventure novel that follows a young street urchin on her journey of self awakening. She is rescued from a band of abusive thieves by a more enlightend band of thieves. A group that recognizes her unique abilities.
Each of the members of her new group has a unique ability and a brilliant personality. They draw you in with their witty language and outlandish plots. Each character has an interesting background that is slowly revealed throughout the book.
The world Sanderson has created is horrifying in it's cruelty. The spiritless nobility rule over the peasants with vicious brutality. Yet there are pockets of hope among the nobility and the beaten down ska(peasants). The setting of the story had me rooting for the underdogs.
I really enjoyed how formidable Sanderson made the bad guys they are intellegent, ruthless, and you cannot predict how the battles will turn out.
I highly recommend this to any fantasy, action adventure fan. It's a great read.
on August 2, 2010
I heard about Brandon Sanderson a few years ago. The reviews were always praising, especially in terms of world-building and magic systems, and being the nerd that I am, those are pretty attractive to me in fantasy. However, when I started reading Elantris, I just couldn't get into it and gave up a hundred pages through. Then I bought Mistborn (or The Fnal Empire, depending on which edition you read) at JFK airport, and immediately loved it.
Reading Brandon Sanderson right now is a little like listening to Muse after the Twilight movies. Sure, he wasn't a nobody before, but he wasn't nearly as famous as he has become in the last two years either. And if you tell anyone you are reading his books now, they'll smirk and say you only do it because of his work on The Wheel of Time. But to me, it was the other way around. I was happy he was the one to finish Robert Jordan's magnum opus because I knew how good he is.
If I have to find a niche in the genre to put Brandon Sanderson in, that would be the same place occupied by David Gemmell (may he rest in peace), the one Raimond Feist vacated when he went the way of Salvatore and Brooks - the road of endless tired sequels, one every three months or so... It is the niche of high fantasy, of adventures and magic, and of characters that would be cardboard in the hands of a lesser author, but who in Sanderson's writing have just enough of that little spark that makes us care for them.
Mistborn is set in a setting that is rarely explored in fantasy. A long time ago, a great threat loomed over the lands, and a hero rose to defeat it. Many united under his banner, and he was the last hope of the world.
It is now a thousand years later, and the land is covered by ash, spewed endlessly by active volcanoes. When darkness falls, unnatural mists envelop everything, and strange creatures lurk inside them. This is the time of the Final Empire, held in the iron fist of the Lord Ruler - an immortal god-like being that has controlled humanity for a whole millenium. Under his rule there are only two castes - the nobles, descendants of those that once helped the Lord Ruler ascend to power; and the skaa, slaves belonging to nobility, to do with as they please. Rebellions have been few and far between, and all of them end in total bloody suppression.
But now a new kind of rebel appears. One with the means and will to end the Final Empire once and for all, by striking at its heart - the Lord Ruler himself.
The story centers around the skaa rebellion in Luthadel, capital of the Empire. Even though it is a part of a trilogy, Mistborn is actually self-contained; the next installments in the series broaden the concept, revealing new layers to the world, previously hidden by the Lord Ruler's reign. And as a stand-alone book, it shines. It has everything a high fantasy needs: intrigues, lurking in the dark, amazingly cinematic fighting sequences... and magic.
Magic in this world is called Allomancy. An Allomancer is a person who ingests little slivers of metal and then "burns" them in his body, producing a specific effect. There are a number of metals, each working in opposing pairs: one gives you the ability to pull metals, another - to push them; one detects Allomancy, another hides it. This power is extremely rare, and only flows through the blood of some members of nobility, which is the reason for a law that states that any nobleman who takes a skaa lover has to kill her after, to avoid the power being given to the slaves. Of course, this doesn't always happen the way it should, and thus the unlikely cast of characters that shape the events of Mistborn. There are two kinds of Allomancers - those who could burn only one metal are called Mistings. There is, however, an extremely rare number of people, able to burn all metals - the Mistborn.
The magic system is so ordered and used with such precision throughout the book, it resembles more a Science Fiction concept than a Fantasy one. Sanderson obsesses over the interactions between different Allomantic talents, and the result is something that you could imagine so vividly, you almost begin to believe it possible. The action scenes involving Allomancy (that is, nearly all of them) are breathtaking, with people flying, Pulling and Pushing objects to amazing effects.
The story itself is a classic tale of insurrection from within, as the main character Vin - an orphan girl from the street with the powers of a Mistborn - is turned by the rebellion leader Kelsier - also a Mistborn - into a lady from the minor nobility, who he uses to infiltrate the world of the nobles for the purpose of sowing dissent and mistrust. The characters are more or less black and white, although enough nuances exist to make them come to life.
In the end, Mistborn is a greatly satisfying read. It lacks the grand scope of "Hard Fantasy" authors like Martin, Erikson or Bakker, but it does't need them either. Sanderson has written a thrilling adventure filled to the brim with action, intrigue and one of the most wonderfully developed magic systems I've encountered in the genre. I'd recommend it without reservations.
on March 14, 2012
amazing , action, adventure , scenes , epic world , unpredictable story , rich world, lot of rebounds , lot of things happening really interesting magic system that combines fantasy epicness with a slice of jedi matrix style ... if u live matrix style movies and great adventures , u ll love this book and the serie .
a must have , this book could stand on it's own , the beginning to the end , is suprising and is an amazing story even if you only want to read 1 book ( but i m pretty sure you will want to read the others as well ... )
on July 11, 2012
Overall a great fantasy book. The magic system, the character, the antagonists, the storyline were all great. I cant wait to read more Mistborn books and others by this author.