Mistborn: The Final Empire – by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson is perhaps most widely known as the author hand picked by Robert Jordan to finish the Wheel of Time epic, after Jordan’s passing in 2007. The Wheel of Time is a beloved series and the task of bringing the story to a satisfactory conclusion is a challenge to say the least; and by all accounts, Sanderson is doing a wonderful job. Moreover, Brandon Sanderson’s own work has come very highly recommended by people who’ve discovered my love of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles, namely The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear (seriously, READ THEM). Suffice to say that I had high expectations of Mistborn. This is how they were met:
More than a thousand years ago, the Lord Ruler saved the world from an evil known only as the Deepness. Since that time, he has ruled the Final Empire as Emperor and God. It is His benevolence that allows the millions of skaa to live – in poverty-stricken conditions as slaves to the noble houses. The nobility is even more blessed by the Lord Ruler; as descendants of His old friends, they are given the right to own skaa and live in luxury. Everyone knows that this is the way it has always been in the Final Empire, and the way it always shall be.
Everyone except Kelsier, the Survivor of the Pits of Hathsin. Two years ago, he became the first and only person to ever escape the Pits, and discovered powers that only a handful of people – nobles – have wielded before. It is with this power and the help of a few allies who are still willing to take a stand that Kelsier develops his insane plan: to overthrow the Lord Ruler and allow the oppressed skaa a chance at a life of more than slavery and death.
Vin grew up as part of a thieving crew, where every day was a struggle to find enough food and avoid being killed on a whim by another skaa. She knows that Kelsier’s plan is mad and doomed to fail. Yet Vin has powers too, and a curious nature her harsh upbringing couldn’t entirely quash. She joins forces with Kelsier’s futile mission because better to die trying than like millions of her fellow skaa, submissive and quiet.
This story is brilliant. The plot is familiar inasmuch as many fantasies follow a similar theme, yet is an excellent example of the uprising tale. The magic is well-reasoned and plausible. The writing is at times generous with description and others taut with excitement, and as the novel was originally written as either a stand alone or the first in a trilogy, the ending is satisfying while still leaving room for even better stories in its sequels.
Sanderson’s strengths lie in his exceptional world building, with an incredible magic system, and his equally as impressive knack for characterisation. Vin is wonderful throughout this story (and in the sequels). She has so much fight in her, and she spends a lot of time asking questions that I would definitely be asking in her position: why is she helping Kelsier? How can she pose as a noble? What is this magic she has the ability to use? Who can be trusted? How far? Kelsier is just as real, with a little too much ego, a little too much ruthlessness, and just enough genuine desire to help, and just enough love for his friends.
It’s often dangerous expecting too much of a book before you read it – but in some cases, the book is worth the hype. This was one.
You simply have to read it!
And if you have, what did you think?