For Christmas my wonderful partner surprised me with the tenth anniversary edition of the Mistborn series. I had heard of the series for a long time but was hesitant to tackle it for the sheer breadth of how large of a story it is. But having finished the first book in the series, I can say that I am incredibly happy I chose to read this story.
I did some research into the Mistborn series and I noticed that there was a consensus of how the story is more Young Adult/Teen Fantasy rather than an Epic Fantasy. The main argument being that Vin, the protagonist, is a teenage girl who is unsure of herself as many protagonists in YA and Teen fiction tend to be. Many would compare that with the notion that YA character development can often feel shallow, but Vin’s character development is some of the best I’ve read in a long time. She grows naturally as the story progresses and learns to trust her own judgement rather than blindly believing what others tell her. Admittedly I wasn’t the biggest fan of hers at the start, but as I read on I grew to appreciate who she was at the beginning of the story versus who she became. I found myself rooting for her more often than not which I feel is a commendable quality in a protagonist regardless of genre.
The supporting cast of characters is also fantastic! Kelsier is given a lot of time in the spotlight and it is well deserved. He has a very Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly feel to him which made me love him instantly. His backstory is also quite compelling as are his motivations. The differences between Vin and him make for a great contrast as does the influence they have on each other. Breeze, Dockson, Ham and Marsh are also fantastically unique and well developed for a supporting cast of characters. I grew to really care about what happens to each and every one of them.
The Final Empire is a brutal, dark and incredibly depressing world and it’s profoundly felt throughout the text. Even the subtle mentions in the background serve to give pause to the reader to contemplate just how horrid a life this really is. The skaa live a terrible, oppressed life and you see it best portrayed through Vin, Kelsier and the rest of the crew as they move forward with their plan. It’s deeply ingrained in the society and the culture and you get a sense of it in every conversation amongst the characters.
The magic system in Mistborn is amazing even if it does take some time to understand the core concepts. But the amount of time taken to really flesh out how it works and what each metal does is expertly done so that nothing feels out of the norm nor does it ever feel random. Everything you see the characters do falls into the restrictions built by Sanderson throughout the novel. I really appreciated the fact that at no time does the reader ever stop learning about the metals and their different powers. It makes the magic system feel so much more alive and understandable.
Considering the length of this novel, the sheer size of it allows for a far more even and well developed pace for the reader. The story progresses at a good pace and most of the events (if not all) are character driven which is always a benefit to the story. For a heist story, everything is meticulously planned out by the characters and it’s fun to see how they discuss the situation as well as how they plan around it. The twists that are thrown in, both fortunate and unfortunate, are built up to be well received rather than feeling random. There were several moments where I found my assumptions to be pleasantly thwarted and I enjoyed each and every time it happened. What I loved most was that there was always a good reason behind their actions and motivations rather than just doing something for the sake of the story.
As with all of Brandon Sanderson’s novels, the writing style is easy to follow and never gets bogged down by an exposition dump. I actually expected to have moments where I was given a history lesson in the text considering the size of the novel. But it’s woven into the story in a way that doesn’t break apart the plot progression or character development. It’s easy to read, easy to pick up and doesn’t ever feel like it drags on. I found myself reading and realizing that a couple hours had passed when I only planned to read for an hour at most. It’s surprising how easy it was to get lost in the story and enjoy the ride.
What Authors can learn from this Novel
Everything. Honestly everything in this novel is so well done that any author can learn new techniques and approaches to stories. The character growth of Vin was amazingly well done and served to create a character who becomes both endearing and driven. The setting creates a world that is incredibly bleak and depressing but slowly reveals glimmers of what it could be, the hope that sparks belief. The magic system is so well constructed with rules in place but still allows for freedom to explore and push the system to its boundary. The plot is well paced and never feels rushed as many can to push the story along. Everything was just so great.
God I loved it!