The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson is a phenomenal fantasy with an incredibly unique premise and dynamic characters.
So I read this a while ago and my review is looong overdue, I know I’m sorry, but it is finally here!
Synopsis: In a world where the dark lord has already won, where revolutions and uprisings are squashed without ever making a dent, where the people are severely governed and enslaved by the rich. What hope is there?
Ash rains from the sky here, the mist owns the night, and the evil is in control. One headstrong young man has had enough, and his troublemaking brain is infinitely clever – as he formulates plan after plan he builds a crew and takes on a young apprentice. This is an unlikely group, but do they have what it takes to free the empire from the evil that has captured it?
— Flawlessly Creates A Strong Atmosphere —
The Writing Style/Narrative. Brandon Sanderson’s writing style is phenomenal. It is incredibly well-structured, it flawlessly creates a strong atmosphere and is very rich and emotive. It is incredibly effective, it draws you into the story immediately and paints a vivid picture of the world and its characters, hooking you, and consistently maintains your interest.
This story is told from two perspectives – Vin and Kelsier, the two main characters. Both perspectives are told in the third person, an effective choice that allows us a lot of insight into the characters, their relationships with each other, and their own motivations. This perspective also allows a sense of restriction, we are not able to see all of the characters thoughts all of the time, nor do we know their plans – this allows for mystery to be built up throughout the story and facilitates some incredible plot twists that effectively shock you and keep you reading.
The dual narrative is very efficient throughout the story. It creates a very interesting dynamic of teacher and apprentice , but also an almost parent-child relationship. Not only does this lend an interesting character dynamic it also created an incredibly interesting perspective, one with a lot of insight the other with a more limited frame of knowledge. This was a fantastic choice that allows you to slowly learn things about the world while simultaneously learning things quickly and efficiently through the more advanced perspective – this meant that the story moved at a good pace, there were no info-dumps and it was always interesting.
— Distinct And Fascinating Fantasy —
The Story/Plot. This, by far, has been one of the most distinct and fascinating fantasy stories I have ever read. The premise is unique and brilliant as it starts in a world where the villain has already won, not only that but he has built an empire that has lasted for a long time and has crushed any and all rebellions/uprisings. This immediately creates a sense of hoplessness and adds to the interest of the story.
We follow Vin and Kelsier. Vin is a Skaa, the lowest class used as slaves. We follow her as she runs as part of a thieving crew, her boss sees her as lucky as things tend to go his way when she is around, but Vin is wary of everyone and refuses to trust anybody. Her story is very interesting as she is drawn into a larger story of rebellion and struggles with trusting her crew. Kelsier on the otherhand is a legend, and he is determined to lead a successful uprising against the Lord Ruler who has oppressed the Skaa for so long.
This was such an interesting plot, watching the plan to overthrow the Lord Ruler develop and evolve as the story went on, but never fully knowing the entirety of it meant there was constant suspense that always paid off. The opposing narratives and the complicated plot meant the story was well paced, there were times where it was a little slower but this perfectly balanced out the action and more tense moments in the story allowing you to remain engaged but not exhausted. The action scenes were very well written, fun to read and each battle, including the final fight was extraordinarily done, they were tense, fast paced and risky – I loved it.
Moreover, the story is incredibly unpredictable, it takes a lot of twists and turns that consistently shock you and keep you interested – you never know how things will play out and the stakes are high. The story is high risk, there is no certainty and that makes it all the more intriguing. The ending was very interesting and sets up well for the rest of the series, it is also devastating, heart-breaking and ominous.
— Dynamic And Multi-Dimensional —
The Magic System/World-Building. This book has an very complex and rich magic system and world. The story is set a while after The Lord Ruler supposedly saved the Empire from a very significant threat, after doing so he divided the people and used the Skaa as slaves and has managed to keep them oppressed for a long time. The Lord Ruler has created a higher class of nobles and an elite force of ‘guards’ that are unkillable.
The higher classes are people born from a noble bloodline, they have the ability to use Allomancy, they can burn metals and utilise their properties as powers. Some Skaa have this ability but can only utilise the properties of one kind of metal – they are known as ‘mistings’. The nobles are the only ones who can be born with the ability to use all the metals, they are called ‘mistborns’.
Though initially confusing as there are a lot of metals to get use to as they each do something different, you can eventually start to grasp it quite easily. I really liked the way the ‘magic’ in this world works, the use of metals and how they work is very unique and the system is very complex. The way the ‘magic’ works is very realistic because it has a lot of consequences and restrictions, it is not overpowered but it can be incredibly powerful. I really liked the technicalities of the Allomancy and how each metal has different strengths and limitations – it creates a very dynamic and multi-dimensional world that actually presents consequences and problems that the characters need to acknowledge and work around.
Allomancy is not the only form of ‘magic’ in this world, I won’t go into detail but I really enjoyed how this type worked as well. It was another distinctive form of magic and again has a lot of positives but also restricitons. This form is a little rarer, and adds another level of depth to this world.
I won’t go into any more detail in order to avoid spoilers but I absolutely adored this world and the way the magic works, it is incredibly in-depth and has many tachnicalities that it makes it feel very realistic and ultimately adds to the complexity of this fantastic world and story.
— Interesting And Powerful —
The Characters. There are a lot of very diverse characters in this story, there is room for more to be added and there is a lack of good female characters, but the characters that do exist are very well crafted and have a lot of layers to them. I really liked the characters in this story as they were so different from each other and really stood out, they were all interesting and powerful and added well to the story.
Kelsier. Kelsier’s character is incredibly interesting and complex. He is very charming, clever, bold and headstrong but he is also independent and secretive. Despite his reluctance to share the entirity of his plans, he has a lot of trust for his friends and his crew. Kelsier is well versed in Allomancy and is unnafraid to take risks, but will not unecessarily risk the lives of his friends. Hie persepctive and character was incredibly dynamic, and a great addition to the novel, particularly as a contrast to Vin’s.
Kelsier has very tight bonds with his friends and crew, but his relationship with Vin is one of my favourites because it is a mix of teacher and student but also a parent-child dynamic. This worked particularly well because the two got on well, had great conversatios, were close but unafraid to criticise and lastly, we get an experienced and a novice perspective allowing us to learn a lot more about the world organically. I loved watching this relationship grow and develop alongside the characters own improvements.
Vin. Vin is a fantastic character. She is strong, clever, good at working alone and has brilliant instincts but she is lonely and afraid of trusting anyone. She is very much an outsider but she develops extraordinarily over the course of the book, she grows more confident and is able to form bonds and loyalty. Vin is not afraid to get her hands dirty but she also has a feminine streak, I loved this balance as it is rare to get female characters who embrace all things they like. I love Vin’s character and her development is phenomenal.
Sazed. Sazed is a bit of an enigma, we know very little about him and he reveals things slowly over the course of the book. But, we do know he is loyal to the crew and will happily protect Vin on her missions. He is witty, sarcastic and very clever and is a character that intrigued me constantly.
The Crew. There are a few members of the crew who I will let you get to know yourself. But, I loved the crew, they are all very interesting characters who are all very different from one another. They have great relationships/friendships with eachother and are all memorable and have their own specialities.
Elend. Elend is a brilliant character who reads at parties, loathes the faux social rules and is very relatable – honestly I loved him. He is clever and charming but an individual unafraid to think outside of the normal social conventions, he is still restricted though. His character development is another I enjoyed watching and his relationships were also very well written. He is one I don’t want to spoil so I won’t say anything more.
The Lord Ruler. An incredible villain that has immense power even in his absence. The control he has over his empire is thorough and astounding, he is a clever villain who rules with a tight leash and so has been able to crush any and all uprisings – it was brilliant. Again, I can’t go into anymore detail because spoilers! But, I thought he was a fantastic villain and definitely a threat.
There is one developed romantic relationship – it is adorable, complex and develops rather organically. I actually quite liked it and think it has a lot of room for development over the course of the series.
Overall. I loved this fantasy – it was unique, multi-dimensional, had a fantastic world and exceptional characters and I cannot wait to continue with this series. I loved the way the magic works and cannot wait to see how things we see in this book have an impact on the rest of the story.
I will definitely continue this series and would recommend it to all high fantasy lovers looking for an epic world and complex magic system.