Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mistborn: The Final Empire is a very good fantasy. I have not read the author's first novel, but I look forward to doing so. The plot of this story is a common one in fantasy, but Sanderson twists it enough and adds some new ideas that make it interesting and definitely worth reading.
The basic plot revolves around the plan of a group of revolutionaries to overthrow the Lord Ruler, who has held complete power in the land for a thousand years. The Lord Ruler is, to all appearances, immortal and is called the "Sliver of Infinity." A band of thieves, led by Kelsier, who has survived the Lord Ruler's most heinous slave mine, attempts to depose the ruler and free the downtrodden skaa.
The "magic" system in the book is intriguing. I use the quotes because it is unlike most magical systems. No spells, no chanting, no ritual practice. There are no wizards with energy-flashing staves and no witches weaving complex charms. The magic stems from swallowing bits of certain metals, and then "burning" them internally to tap into the metal's power. It is a bit more like tapping into superhero powers than a system of magic, but it works well and is a different take on what we usually see.
World building is also done well. The landscape we are introduced to is grey and ash covered. The ash falls like rain every day. At night, dense, fog-like mists rise and cover the land. The mists are feared by most people, although the Mistborn, with their metal-enhanced abilities, move about freely in the mists. The society is comprised of the Lord Ruler, who has absolute power, at the top. The Great Houses are the aristocracy of the world, and hold the wealth and power. The skaa, considered sub-human by the elite, are essentially slaves, used for manual labor and as servants to the wealthy class. In between, are the theiving guilds, who survive on wits and by conning the wealthy.
The main characters are Kelsier, a thief and revolutionary, who puts together the plot to overthrow the Lord Ruler, and Vin, a street-wise young woman who is a member of one of the thieving guilds. Both are Mistborn, able to "burn" and utilize all the metals. The rest of the team is composed of allomancers, who are able to work with only one metal each.
The plot moves along at a decent pace, with the battles between the Mistborn particularly well done. There are some rather long passages of dialogue that get a bit tedious at times, and Vin's attendance at the upper class balls for information gathering are a bit overdone. In general, though, those two flaws don't take away from the story's readability.
Kelsier and Vin are very detailed and complex as characters. The rest of the cast is less well drawn and one or two are almost cardboard cutouts without much definition. Again, these are minor problems and don't hurt the overall enjoyment of the story.
In all, this was a very good read, and I will go on to read the rest of the series.
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