Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson

    2006; 643 pages.  Full Title : Mistborn: The Final Empire.  Book #1 of the Mistborn trilogy, which paradoxically now has 4 books.  New Author? : Kinda.  Genre : Epic Fantasy.  Overall Rating : 9*/10.

    The Lord Ruler has reigned over the Final Empire for a thousand years.  For all extents and purposes, he is immortal.  There have been some uprisings over the centuries, but they were easily and thoroughly put down.  The Lord Ruler’s omnipotence is equaled only by his callous brutality.

    A fellow would have to be insane to try to organize another rebellion.  Ah, but Kelsier fully admits he’s crazy.  And he has a plan.  Which involves a street waif named Vin, who, like Kelsier, is a Mistborn.  And that makes her pretty special, even if she’s never heard of such a thing.

What’s To Like...
    The world-building is eminently believable, the plot is full of twists and surprises, and the characters are rich, varied, and deep.  Even the Lord Ruler has some redeeming qualities, albeit small and not apparent until the end.

    The magic system, called Allomancy, is refreshingly original.  Adepts ingest a given metal, and burn it to use its power as needed.  Each metal has its unique attribute.  Most  Allomancers can only use one of the metals.  They are called Mistings.  A rare few can use them all.  They are called Mistborn.

    In an appendix, Brandon Sanderson gives a list of the metals, what their users are nicknamed, and what powers they confer.  It is a very handy resource.  There is a second magic/metal system, Feruchemy.  It is less prominent in the story, and less powerful than Allomancy; but no less important. 

    Mistborn is really the story of Vin, as she is taught how to use each metal and becomes adept in combat, including fighting other Allomancers.  She also has to impersonate a noblewoman, mingle with high society, engage in espionage, and try to avoid any romantic entanglements.  Yeah, good luck with all that, Vin.

Kewlest New Word...
    Caliginous : dim, dark, misty, and gloomy.

    Her hair had grown longer, and had been carefully cut by Renoux’s stylist so that it fell around her ears, curling just slightly.  She no longer looked quite so scrawny in the mirror, despite her lengthy sickness; regular meals had filled her out.
    I’m becoming... Vin paused.  She didn’t know what she was becoming.  Certianly not a noblewoman.  Noblewomen didn’t get annoyed when they couldn’t go out stalking at night.  Yet, she wasn’t really Vin the urchin anymore.  She was...
    Mistborn.   (pg. 283 )

    Vin leaned forward.  “What is it, Elend Venture? Why are you so intent on avoiding your duty?”
    “Duty?” Elend asked, leaning toward her, his posture earnest.  “Valette, this isn’t duty.  This ball... this is fluff and distraction.  A waste of time.”
    “And women?” Vin asked.  “Are they a waste too?”
    “Women?” Elend asked.  “Women are like... thunderstorms.  They’re beautiful to look at, and sometimes they’re nice to listen to – but most of the time they’re just plain inconvenient.”  (pg. 307)

You don’t know what I do for mankind.  I was your god, even if you couldn’t see it.”  (pg. 639)
    Kelsier's grand plan is a product of brainstorming.  It is complex, and well thought out.  As with any piece of superb Epic Fantasy, things go significantly awry despite the meticulous preparations.  Mistborn is completely standalone, yet is part of a trilogy.  The first 2/3 of the book is good, and the tension steadily builds towards an exciting climax.  The last third of the book is fantastic.

    In short – powerful writing, well-developed characters, a captivating storyline, and a satisfying ending.  Is it any wonder that Robert Jordan chose Brandon Sanderson to finish up his Wheel Of Time opus?  9 Stars.

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