I’ve been meaning to read the Mistborn books for a while now, but standing in front of the Fantasy section of my local bookstore has always left me a bit intimidated and like I don’t know where to begin. This goes doubly so for Brandon Sanderson- who has ‘Final’ in the title of the first book of a trilogy? What if this trilogy is a sequel to another series set in the same world?
What helped me out was an unknown genius working at the Waterstones Picadilly who had set up a display of Fantasy First Books in Series. Naturally, Name of the Wind was there plus a few others that I had already read but all I could do was zero in on the Final Empire and leg it to the till.
We begin with ash falling from the sky onto the beaten and broken plantation skaa. The narrative establishes certain facts: the skaa are owned by the mysterious Lord Ruler but leased by nobility, the nobility have the right to sleep with skaa woman provided they kill them after and that the skaa will never, ever rebel against their tormenters. In fact they don’t seem to understand that they are tormented.
The book later moves to the capital, Luthadel where we meet Vin, a quiet, mistrusting young girl with a mysterious ability. Vin works for a skaa crime faction where, like the plantation skaa, she is mistreated and doesn’t know that she deserves any better. Her powers attract the attention of the frightening Inquisitors and the far less frightening Kelsier and his friends. What follows next is an incredibly exciting political story of Kelsier’s crime syndicate attempting to liberate the skaa, kill the Lord Ruler and overthrow the Final Empire.
What I really liked about this book
- I said this with Name of the Wind as well, but The Final Empire is another fantasy book with a really good magic procedure. Mistings are people who can burn a particular metal to gain a particular power, such as strength, increase senses or the ability to soothe someone’s emotions. On the other hand Mistborn can burn any metal to achieve any power. I don’t want to spoil anything but the last couple of metals explained in the book blew my mind.
- The explanation given as to why the skaa are so without hope. I will say no more here 😉
- The characterisation of the characters in Keliser’s gang, especially Ham. Ham, the Thug who could easily be written as a grunting brute loves nothing better than a philosophical discussion about if overthrowing the Empire is the right thing to do or about atium economy.
What I didn’t like so much
- Vin was not used in the way I thought she was going to be. Early on, when she has just joined Keliser’s gang, one of the other characters comments that Vin always knows where other people are. A lot of description is given to how she prowls around, keeping herself hidden but a watchful eye on everyone else. Later, when she infiltrates the nobility, I thought that her aptitude for spying would come in handy and she would be sneaking away from balls, searching rooms and eavesdropping on conversations. That didn’t really happen, Vin mostly went to balls and gossiped. Until the end of the book that is…
At the moment, The Final Empire is the only Mistborn book I’ve read. It is a fantastic, absorbing read, so gripping that I finished it in about two train journeys. I absolutely cannot wait until I get my hands on book two. If, like me, you stand in front of fantasy bookcases stuck on where to begin, pick up The Final Empire. You won’t regret it.