Title: The Final Empire
Series: Book #1 in the Mistborn trilogy
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publication Date: July 25, 2006
Genre: Adult – High Fantasy
Format: Purchased Paperback – UK Edition
In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with colour once more?
In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage – Allomancy, a magic of the metals.
This book was incredible and I can’t believe it took me about four months or so to finish reading it. Holy carp.
So this book intrigued me, initially, because so many people were talking about it in the Booktube community earlier this year. I had to know why it was so popular and gaining a lot of hype, and, frankly, I wasn’t disappointed.
The plot of the story seems kind of simple at the beginning: can the evil overlord be taken down? But there are so many facets and different levels to the plot that turn into subplots and break down ever further into smaller bits that it’s no wonder than this book gained so much praise. From the lore behind a lot of who and what the Lord Ruler is, to what Allomancy and how it works, to the political and cultural structures, to the subtle romance, to the amazing adventure that takes place, this plot has a little bit of everything that please my inner reader.
So let me briefly talk about the magical aspect of this fantasy novel: Allomancy. Allomancy is a type of magic in this world that not many people are able to use. It’s a type of magic that relies on metals and being able to use ten different known types of metals to one’s advantage. There are Mistings: people that can use one type of metal, like pewter to gain strength – they’re called Thugs or Pewterarms, or copper to prevent from other Allomancers discovering them – they’re called a Smoker; and then there are Mistborns: a rare few who are able to control and use all of the metals known: zinc, copper, pewter, gold, tin, iron,steel, bronze, brass, and the strongest metal, atium.
The fact that Allomancy is used throughout this book already makes it unique. Often when I think of magic in fantasy books I think of being able to manipulate objects or use elemental magic – not like this. And the way Sanderson describes how the characters use it is detailed and vivd, allowing you to picture what’s going on and how they’re using the metals that they’re using.
The main characters that we follow, Vin and Kelsier, are very different in some ways, but very similar in others, and I loved being able to get a dual perspective throughout most of the book; there were even a few times when other characters were introduced and we got some of the story from their perspectives.
Vin is a street thief skaa (skaa being a peasant in this society), working and fighting to just stay alive. She doesn’t trust anyone and she has a hard time opening up or believing what other people say. Once she is introduced and thrust into the life that Kelsier’s crew whips up, she slowly unfolds and learns more about herself than she ever thought possible: she is a Mistborn.
When she discovers this news, she becomes an extremely quick learner, even impressing Kelsier with how fast she learns. She slowly becomes a pawn to be used in the plans set forth against the Empire, becoming a noblewoman to go to parties and balls to gather information, but she soon realizes that not all of the noblemen, despite what Kelsier thinks, are bad people and she wants to help them – specifically one over any other.
I think that she also picked up some mannerisms from Kelsier, but those mannerisms were probably just hidden deep down somewhere within her, such as stubbornness. She acts foolishly a lot of times, but at the same time I think that she almost follows suit after Kelsier. He’s like a fatherly figure to her and I can understand why she wants to stick near him often.
Kelsier, on the other hand, is the lone Survivor of Hathsin, a hellish place where he had to work night and day to gather atium for the Lord Ruler after having been captured with his wife when they were on a mission. Despite what he’s gone through, and despite what he does at night in the mists, Kelsier tries to keep an upbeat and cheerful personality, making light of many situations. But he is full of a lot of passion and I think that passion is what helps to really drive the others to listen to him and respect him as a leader.
A lot of the choices he makes, though, are risky at best, but as the story progresses and we see it all come together, after a major plot point happens, we can see just how his planning and actions have helped all along – even if it’s in a very different way from what was expected.
I found him to be a very likable character. Though he sometimes seemed to let his ego get the best of him, it just showed that he was still just a man, even though he had Allomantic powers.
Also how the characters grew from one another and their surroundings I felt was a really important aspect of the book. Even though Kelsier was a grown man in his mid-thirties with a huge ego, he still managed to learn from Vin, who is a seventeen year old girl. And she, in turn, learned from Kelsier and everyone else around her.
The lore behind who the Lord Ruler is and was surfaces time and again throughout the book, and we get some logbook entries at the beginning of each chapter (which I didn’t realize that’s what they were until much later into the story). I thought that these little snippets were nice insights into the man who was to be the Hero of Ages. Though there are so many questions behind why the Lord Ruler does the things he does and how he became the way he is, we never really get answers to those questions. Well, kind of. A few questions were answered, in my opinion, but maybe more will be answered in the upcoming books.
Also, that plot twist at the end, though. And my heart. The feels. Just, so many feels.
This book was phenomenal. If you’re looking to get into an adult high fantasy series with a unique spin on magic and a detailed plot with lots of action, political intrigue, hints of romance, and more, I highly recommend this book for starters. I seriously can’t wait to read the second book.
I rated this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it.