I've decided to spend some time this year reading back through some of my favorite fantasy books, mostly Brandon Sanderson's(yeah, I'm a Sanderson fanboy), and post brief "revisit reviews" of them. I'm starting with the Mistborn Trilogy, so this first review is of my favorite fantasy book of all time, Mistborn: The Final Empire.
Revisit Review 1
Mistborn: The Final Empire
by Brandon Sanderson
Though I refer to Mistborn as my favorite fantasy novel(well, favorite novel), I've only read through it once before now. It just had that much of an impact on me. While Sanderson has often spoke of how the idea for this first entry in the trilogy stemmed from his love of caper films such as Ocean's Eleven, Mistborn goes far beyond the simple caper concept of its back-cover blurb.
Really, everything about this book defies convention. The Final Empire is a land which was once threatened by a great evil called the Deepness. A hero was prophesized to arise and defeat the evil, and thereby save the world. The problem was, he failed. Now the Final Empire is ruled by the Lord Ruler, a ruthless and immortal god-like man, and those outside the nobility(the skaa) are persecuted, used as little more than slaves. Both the skaa and the nobility are under constant watch of the Lord Ruler's obligators, and even worse, his inquisitors, seemingly immortal men characterized by giant metal spikes driven through their eye sockets. The sun burns read. The nights are shrouded in mysterious and dangerous mists. The skies rain ash. Plants are brown. Much of the world suffers under the persecution of the Lord Ruler.
Mistborn introduces the concept of allomancy, a form of magic implemented through ingested metals. Yes, it sounds weird, and I was a little put off by the concept until I experienced the first major scene in which it is explicitly being used. Overall, allomancy is as interesting and exciting as it is complex, and allows for incredible action scenes that never fail to amaze. By ingesting and then "burning" certain metals, an allomancer may enhance their senses, push or pull on metals(which can involve simple attacks with metal projectiles, or even flying through the air), grow stronger, among many other abilities. Most allomancers are restricted to the ability to burn only one type of metal. Certain allomancers, however, can burn all the metals, and are known as mistborn.
Sanderson is well known for his magic systems, and Mistborn is a prime example of how creative he can be with these. Many scenes involving allomancy in this book will have you wanting to see it put to the screen, whether in movie, television, or video game format(at least two of these have been optioned - we'll see if anything ever comes of it).
This first book introduces us to a man named Kelsier, and chronicles his quest to incite a skaa rebellion, and take down the Lord Ruler in the process. Kelsier is a mistborn, known as the "Survivor" after escaping from the a slavish life in the Lord Ruler's mines. Kelsier aims to carry out his plan with a specialized team of allomancers, hence the whole caper concept. In the beginning of the story, he locates a young female thief, a mistborn unaware of her powers,named Vin. Raised in skaa slums, Vin has no friends or family, and joins Kelsier's crew readily for the promise of knowledge about her newfound powers. However, she soon finds friendship she never knew existed among her new comrades, and learns of the value of sacrificing for the sake of love. Vin is essentially the primary protagonist of this trilogy, and watching her grow throughout this book is a sheer pleasure.
There are many other major characters throughout the book, each with a distinct and believable personality, both lovable and detestable at times. You know, like real people. From Ham, a warrior-type who loves to talk philosophy, to Breeze, the self-important smart-ass who never hesitates to set his ego aside for his friends, each character avoids falling into your typical fantasy tropes.
Honestly, I have no problems with this book. Seriously. None.
I don't want to go too deep into the plot; to do so would take away from the joy of experiencing the amazing story, numerous plot twists, and incredible world building contained within this volume. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, even if only a passing interest in the genre.