Published by Macmillan on April 1, 2010
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
Time to pop my Brandon Sanderson cherry! I’ve started my journey through Sanderson’s Cosmere universe with Mistborn: The Final Empire. I loved this book! Vin is an excellent female protagonist. The magic system is exciting and inventive. And the team of heroes form a found family, which is one of my favorite literary tropes. I think this is a great gateway book for readers looking to delve into the fantasy genre for the first time.
Mistborn takes place in a dystopian world where the villain has already won. Centuries ago, the Lord Ruler vanquished The Darkness, but now rules as a ruthless tyrant. Ash continuously falls from the sky killing vegetation. At night, mists, which are believed to be deadly, roll in. The people are separated into two social classes, the nobility and the oppressed skaa. Skaa and nobility are not allowed to have children to keep the Allomancy powers out of the skaa gene pool. Allomancy is a magic system where different abilities are accessed by ingesting and “burning” different metals. Each Misting has only one metal they can use, but Mistborns can use all metals. This first book in the trilogy follows a team of heroes plotting to overthrow the Lord Ruler. The team is led by Kelsier, a skaa Mistborn who escaped the Lord Ruler’s Pits of Hathsin. An unexpected and powerful addition to the team is Vin, a young thief.
There are many strengths to this story! Allomancy may be my favorite literary magic system. I loved how Sanderson unveiled the different Allomancy abilities without being too info dumpy. And the action scenes are well written. The scenes involving iron and steel Allomancy were so clear and cinematic in my mind. The worldbuilding strikes a perfect balance for me. I never felt bored or bogged down by sections detailing the world’s history. And I also didn’t think the world building was overly simplistic. This made for a very immersive read. I will instantly fall in love with characters that form found families. So, I was pleased with how well The Final Empire used the found family trope. Vin is an excellent protagonist. I think fans of YA fantasy, which heavily features strong female protagonists will enjoy Mistborn because of Vin. Sazed, who acts as a bookish mentor to Vin, was my favorite character. Sanderson has no hesitation of killing off loveable characters, which is essential for me in epic fantasy. Main characters need to die for the stakes to feel high. The romantic story line was probably the least interesting part of the story for me, but I can see that being a highlight for other readers.
I have few complaints about the Final Empire. A little past the halfway point the pacing does slow down and drag a bit. The story is very PG-13, which didn’t bother me. But, if you enjoy edgier fantasy, with lots of sex (like A Song of Ice and Fire), this might not be your cup of tea.