The Final Empireby Brandon Sanderson
Published: Tor Books (Jul 17, 2006)
Posted: Goodreads (Jan 1, 2016)
(5 / 5)
TL;DR — Mistborn: The Last Empire is the start of an amazing and unique series that revitalizes epic fantasy. If you like similar novels but long for a well written story with intense pacing, Mistborn cannot be beat. Cut away the unresolved endings and meaningless story deviations in other similar works, Sanderson delivers an unparalleled saga that’s sure to amaze.
I’ve read and reviewed my fair share of fantasy novels over the years, and yet I can’t recommend any of them as highly as Mistborn’s first novel. If Forbes and New York Times articles didn’t convince you back in 2012/2013, I’ll try now! Keep in mind that this review pales in greatness to the novel.
A hero rises from the ages and strives to put right a world at war. On his way to true spiritual Ascension, he defeats chaos itself… only to fail. What happens? We don’t know, but a thousand years later an elusive rebel leads an assault against an all powerful Emperor God on Scadrial, a world covered in volcanic ash and soot by day and dense mystical mists at night.
The rebel, Kelsier, forms a ragtag group of morally conscious thieves to aid him on his journey. Along the way you’ll meet in-depth characters you’ll bond with. Virtually all the characters have back stories and personality quirks, everything is finely constructed. From the well written and suspenseful action sequences to the details of Luthadel, the world’s largest city, everything is there for a reason.
Character development and growth is so central to Mistborn’s success that I can’t name a single fantasy novel or series that does it better (I’m serious!) Take our main character the abused and headstrong 16 year old girl, Vin. She’s rough, street savvy and extremely skittish but soon develops into a hero with amazing abilities the likes of which rival and beat the protagonists in Frank Herbert’s Dune. She doesn’t lose the baggage either like some protagonists, she carries the pain and uses it in various interesting ways. Her tutor, Kelsier, is warm but has his own dreadful past. I’m not sure which character is given more depth, the truth is that this novel faithfully serves all its characters. But these two – Kelsier and Vin – are awesome creations!
These characters are also funny. Not one liners to break up the plot. But actual full fledged conversations that you’d have with your friends. The heroes of Mistborn live and breath, making events that happen to them and around them all the more significant. You’ll likely feel like you’re watching a movie.
You’ve read it in dozens of reviews: the magic system is new and inventive. Ingesting metal gives Mistings and Mistborn the ability to perform various feats. I won’t give away any spoilers but I will say the action sequences are quick and really cool to imagine. Sanderson is the type of author to spend time detailing things in his world (the novels in the series are of decent size). Love the detail of Jordan’s writing? action sequences are faster paced and equally as descriptive (more compact and meaningful, in my opinion). Throw in 11 magical metals and alloys, each complimentary and possessing their own unique effects, you get something new and bold. There may also be other systems as well, but no spoilers! And guess what? None of the magic is run of the mill D&D. Just straight up fantasy done right. Refreshing!
The story in this novel is really well thought out. The pacing builds appropriately and small journey entry tidbits along the way lead up to strong revelations and climactic moments. Suffice it to say that the heroes have a lot of work to do and, despite this being part of a trilogy, do it with a solid conclusion. I’ll spell it out: the conclusion makes sense, the novel’s methodical progression compliments its *stellar* end.
What I loved the most? The Akito style marital arts Vin used with mystical pulls and pushes of metals. Basically physics defying but make sense, possessing internal logic that’s strongly explored throughout the novel. She’s not a physical beast like some heroes, but her agile grace and solid Allomancy skills mark her as as extremely dangerous.
I’m also a huge fan of the narrative style. Snippets of some text throughout the novel at the beginning of each chapter, it’ll all make sense in the end! Sanderson does it better than most fantasy authors and I’ve yet to find fault with this novel.
If any of this sounds interesting to you, quit reading my rant and go pick up a copy of Mistborn. Believe me… this is a series you’ll eagerly stick with. Even if you don’t, by itself, this novel best exhibits what epic fantasy should be! 5/5
*** WIKI SPOILERS: one suggestion for people reading the series for the first time. Don’t use wiki pages or fictionary info on Kindle. It could ruin your enjoyment of things as they are revealed in the story. Sanderson is a master of pacing and suspense! 🙂 enjoy. ***