I haven’t read a fabulous high fantasy series in a long while. I have been going the YA fantasy route more, probably because that is what I see a lot of in the bookstagram community, at least in my circles. And I love YA fantasy; it will always have a place in my heart. But as winter settled in, I found myself longing for something with a bit more meat on its bones, so to speak. And several people whom I really respect had told me that I needed to read Brandon Sanderson, and I needed to start with the Mistborn series. So when the end of January rolled around, and the lighter reads I had been craving over Christmas just weren’t cutting it anymore, I decided it was time to dive in.
The first book in the series is sometimes just called Mistborn and sometimes called The Final Empire, which can be a bit confusing, but I think has to do with rebranding after all the books were out. Anyway. The name The Final Empire is apt because as we start our book, the “evil empire” has had control of the world for more than a thousand years, and the idea of overthrowing it is so unimaginable as to be laughable by most people. This book is basically a heist story, with a wonderful thieving as its central cast of characters, and I was there for it. I think I need to go to a bullet list format and just list all the things I loved about the book.
- The world building – everything from the weather to the history to the religions to the political groupings and tensions is carefully crafted and described, and built into everything. At first I got a little confused, but I just kept on reading and it eventually all clicked into place.
- The atmosphere – There is ash constantly raining down, and mists swirl across the world every night, and you just FEEL you are there in the middle of the evil empire. It is broody and tense and just plain fabulous.
- The magic system – allomancy and feruchemy and I won’t say any more because I want you to go read it and learn about it for yourself, but it is layered and complex and well thought out. I didn’t go “oh no way, THAT’s not believable“ at any point. I love how Vin was doing magic without knowing it, and then she learns what she truly is and the transformation and growth is fabulous. Luke Skywalker-esque without being quite so cheesy!
- The character relationships and dialogue – there was a wry humor that ran throughout the pages, and I found myself cracking up on more than one occasion. There were also some philosophical explorations between characters about what is morality, how do we define good and evil, and exploring religious beliefs and hope. I really found myself enjoying those parts. Finally, lots to chew on in terms of sibling and familial relationships. In particular, I was really invested in these relationships: Vin and Kelsier, Vin and Sazed, Vin and Elend, and Kelsier and Marsh.
- The plot – NOT predictable. I am keeping this spoiler-free, but WOW, my mind was pretty much blown to pieces by the end of the book. I am not really okay, honestly, but in the best way possible. I just need to dive right into book two, I think.
So yeah, overall, I highly recommend this read if you like high fantasy. That is to say, the book is packed with details and there is a fair amount of text devoted to politics and a complex magical system. If you prefer all of that to be more lightly touched on, then this may not be the book for you. But I would say if you are on the fence, then go for it. The payoff in terms of character and plot development is absolutely worth it.
Some favorite quotes:
“You should try not to talk so much, friend. You’ll sound far less stupid that way.”
“Belief isn’t simply a thing for fair times and bright days.”
“I’ve always been very confident in my immaturity.”
“My behavior is nonetheless, deplorable. Unfortunately, I’m quite prone to such bouts of deplorability—take, for instance, my fondness for reading books at the dinner table.”
“Our belief is often strongest when it should be weakest. That is the nature of hope.”
“The best liars are those who tell the truth most of the time.”
“Plots behind plots, plans behind plans. There was always another secret.”
“Though most expect young men to be fools, I’ve noticed that just a little bit of age can make a man far more foolish than he was as a child.”