Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson is an exciting narrative with high flying antics, a magic system that grabs the reader right away, and a dire situation that only fantasy can imagine.
4/5 20/25 total score
Type of Story: Action-adventure high fantasy with a large focus on world-building.
– One of the most fun magic systems ever created in a fantasy novel.
– An imaginatively hopeless world, but a group of characters with hope.
– Extremely easy to read that is meticulously planned.
– There is a lacking of soul in this novel, a connection for the reader to the characters, and the characters to themselves.
– Simplistic language, similar to a young adult novel. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but some readers should be aware of it.
– I was turned off by the flying at first but then I got used to it. Some people have a large aversion to flying in their fantasy novels and that is only why I mention it.
Similar Books/Media: I found some similarities to The Matrix in this book, especially the action. Of course Magneto from the X-Men has a lot of similarities to the main magic power used in this novel.
Plot – 5(Very Strong)
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson is a high fantasy novel that focuses on a world under the rule of a tyrant that cannot die. The Lord Ruler has been the leader of The Final Empire for over a millennium and some people believe he is a god. The story focuses on the city of Luthadel, where there are many peasants named skaa that are mistreated by the noble houses, who are granted power by the Lord Ruler. A few of the nobles have special abilities called allomancy, that allows them to manipulate certain metals within their body to have special powers. The even more rare, mistborn, can harness of the power of all the metals, giving them great power.
Our story centers around a young female thief, named Vin, that unknowingly is a mistborn. She is constantly mistreated by people around her, until she meets a mistborn named Kelsier that sees her for what she truly is, and takes her under his wing. Vin joins Kelsier’s thieving crew and they have the impossible plan to attempt to overthrow the Lord Ruler’s government. Because they are a thieving crew, they use their allomancy to subtly perform small tasks to destabilize the Luthadel nobility and create an atmosphere that will allow them to topple the government.
The thing that makes the narrative of Mistborn so great is the scene building by Brandon Sanderson. He is well known for his world-building but I believe that Sanderson is even better at creating scenes. To be more specific, Sanderson is great at stringing together multiple scenes that are of good length, to tell an overall story, without having to resort to filling in the gaps between scenes. The plot is incredibly strong because there are not many scenes that fail to progress the story ahead.
Characters – 3(Fine)
Vin is our main character in Mistborn, we see the majority of the story through her eyes, but we also see the story through the eyes of Kelsier as well. Vin is a character that I was actually torn about at times in the novel. There were times where her character’s actions just didn’t make a lot of sense from how she acted previously. Then I realized something extremely important about Vin, what she thinks and says, is not always what she does. Once I realized this, I came to the realization that she is just a young girl, that really doesn’t know herself that well. Her character progression, in relation to the fact, is great.
Kelsier’s character is enjoyable because we get to see the details of this world through his eyes. He comes across as this entirely put together individual but there is a lot of hurt within him that clouds his judgment. The rest of the characters are hit or miss with me. I absolutely loved Sazed, he was my favorite character in the entire story. Dockson and his background was incredibly interesting to me, especially his talk to Vin about his past. Breeze, Ham, and Marsh however, just weren’t given a lot of time to show off who they were in a deep scene of dialogue. I hope for more characterization with those characters in the future books.
The characters do take a back seat the action and plot for the first third of the novel. Once things settle down and there is less flying around there is much more character development. Be aware that the development is rather weak at first.
Setting/World-Building – 5(Very Strong)
Luthadel, allomancy, mistborn, and The Final Empire are just the highlight of this entire novel. Allomancy is the ability to swallow metals and burn them within you. While you burn the metals, they give you abilities like magnetism, influencing other people’s emotions, becoming stronger, and having heightened senses. There are limitations to the magic system but the reader must realize that this is a very high magic fantasy novel and the abilities are far beyond a normal man. The flying around, by use of pushing and pulling towards metal objects, is a little much at first. I was really turned off by the flying and fighting because I’m not use to this in my fantasy novels. Once I accepted, that yes there is flying, I got over it.
The world is fascinating because the Lord Ruler defeated a great mysterious evil that was going to destroy the entire world but in turn became a being of power himself. The Final Empire was ruled by the savior of the world and he did not become a benevolent ruler. This created a bleak world that is unlike what the world used to be and it is fascinating to learn about.
Writing Style – 4(Strong)
Brandon Sanderson has a writing style that is unique to him. He writes extremely systematic and almost mechanical. He plans almost his entire book out before he writes it, down to the scenes, which creates cohesion not found in a lot of fantasy novels. Very rarely will you find a scene in Mistborn that is a throw away scene and doesn’t have some sort of meaning.
Sanderson is good at deciding if a scene needs exposition, action, or dialogue. He tries not to mix these type of scenes together often. If he goes from an exposition scene to a dialogue scene, there will usually be a page break. This creates an easy book to read. The action scenes do not have a lot of littered dialogue that stops the flow of the action. The language used in Mistborn is extremely easy to read and most YA readers could read this no problem.
The ability to be systematic and mechanical with his writing is also the part of his writing that sometimes creates wooden characters that are hard for the readers to connect to. Sometimes the best characters, the ones that we have a connection with, are the ones that tell us their story. For Sanderson, his characters struggle at times to tell the reader who they are because he uses his characters to show off his world and progress the plot, not to connect to the reader. The only moment in this story where the characters became real to me, and Sanderson’s influence seemed to fade away, was when Dox talked about his wife to Vin.
Heart & Mind Aspect – 3(Fine)
Due to the fact there was not a whole lot of connection for me to the characters the heart aspect of this story was lacking. I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the world but I wouldn’t be inviting any of the characters out for a drink afterwards. The book reminded me of a good date. A date that you had a ton of fun on, great conversation, and just an amazing time but there just wasn’t that spark of romance between the two of you. You could be good friends, but you would never be lovers. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great.
Recommendation: I would highly recommend Mistborn: The Final Empire to anyone looking for a really strong action filled adventure with an outstanding magic system. This book is a ton of fun. In a way, it reminds me of the Indiana Jones movies, because it is just a whole lot of fun. It is action adventure fantasy with well crafted scenes and almost perfect pacing. However, if you want more emotion and maybe a more adult fantasy novel, then maybe check something else out, and then come back to Mistborn when you are ready for adventure.