Title: Mistborn: The Final Empire
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy, adult fiction
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Once, a hero arose to save the world. A young man with a mysterious heritage courageously challenged the darkness that strangled the land.
For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by the immortal emperor known as the Lord Ruler. Every revolt has failed miserably.
Yet somehow, hope survives. Hope that dares to dream of ending the empire and even the Lord Ruler himself. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one built around the ultimate caper, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the determination of an unlikely heroine, a street urchin who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a Mistborn.
I love stories about magic and stories about heists/capers. Naturally, I loved this book, since it combined both of these elements. This isn't the best fantasy novel I've read, but it was definitely very entertaining.
Mistborn: The Final Empire takes place in a fantasy world where the Lord Ruler has been in control for thousands of years. The sky rains ash, and it has been generations since anyone has seen a flower or a snippet of blue sky. The Skaa are the slaves of this world, overseen by nobles who are divided into multiple noble houses. Even the idea of rebellion seems distant - the skaa know better than to cross the Lord Ruler. But that doesn't stop Kelsier from trying.
Kelsier is a Mistborn, an allomancer who can control not one but all of the metals that power magic in this world. He recruits Vin, a young girl off the streets who has the potential to be one of the greatest Allomancers in the world. The two Mistborn, together with a motley crew of men from various backgrounds and powers, set out to stir up rebellion and end the reign of the Lord Ruler.
I really enjoyed the magic system of this book. People who have magic are able to "burn" different metals to unleash the power in them. Most of these powers come in pairs - iron pulls metals towards you, while steel pushes them away. I thought it was interesting how people could ingest metals and use various powers, but that your ability to use it still depended on your strength and abilities.
I also really liked the characters. Sazed was my favorite, with his quiet determination and loyalty. Kelsier had such charisma, but there were times when I was scared of him and rooting for him in equal amounts. Vin is the real main character of this book, and I admired her strength and determination. What I didn't like about her was how she kept on cowering and expecting people to betray her - sometimes I wanted to take her by the shoulders and tell her that not everyone was evil and that she could start trusting people. She did grow out of that eventually (mostly, anyway), so that was nice.
The story itself was intriguing, since it explored everything from political intrigue to learning magic to socio-economic theory to revolution. I thought the world was incredibly well-built, and the Inquisitors especially were creepy beyond words. I liked that the world had an almost dystopian flavor even though this was a fantasy novel. Come to think of it, there were a lot of sci-fi elements, but the story was predominantly fantasy.
A minor element that bugged me - this book was recommended to me on the grounds that my inner feminist would not scream blood murder, and well, while Vin was technically a major character who happened to be a girl, there were still a few thing that ticked me off. For one thing, Vin is almost the only character who's a girl - even if one other person on the crew was a girl, it would have been fine, but of course only men are capable of starting revolutions. Also, the only other significant female character happened to be evil. But this is just me being picky about the male-slanted world of fantasy.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy!
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