Mistborn: The Final Empire

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FinalEmpire

[First half spoiler-free, then spoilers after warning.]

This is the second series by Brandon Sanderson that I’m reading, and it does not disappoint.  The book is 600+ pages, and while it is descriptive, it does not spend seven pages describing a forest or a building.  Because this is a longer book, the set-up takes longer, so it takes a while for the story to gain momentum.

The main character of the book is Vin.  She starts off as a beaten and untrusting street urchin, and at first I didn’t like her.  Over time she gains some confidence, and turns out to be a very powerful Allomancer.  I generally like strong female heroes, so I really wanted to like her and was rooting for her to save the day.

Girl power!

Girl power!

Kelsier becomes a sort of secondary main character a bit into the book.  He’s charismatic and daring with a tragic past; not unique, but still fun.  Other characters I like were the enigmatic Sazed and the quirky Elend.

The story takes place in a rather depressing world, with most of the action centered on Luthadel, a sad, sooty city with a large population of slum-living “skaa,” peasants treated like slaves.  The Big Bad – an immortal tyrant – lives in the pointy, many-towered building called Kredik Shaw, located in the center of Luthadel.

Ok, Luthadel isn't THAT bad, but there are similarities.

Ok, Luthadel isn’t THAT bad, but there are similarities.

The Lord Ruler maintains his rule in part with Allomancy, the magic of the land.  In a lot of books, magic is very vague; lots of wizards tossing fireballs and lightning around with nothing but some gibberish words.  On the other hand, Sanderson gives Allomancy clearly defined mechanics and parameters.  I think this makes the magic more interesting and unique.  He does spend a fair amount of time describing Allomancy and having Vin learn Allomancy though, so some might find it boring.

Buckle down, there's learning to be done.

Buckle down, there’s learning to be done.

I liked that the book was more thoughtful with its magic system, and that the story wasn’t the epic quest tale typical of many epic fantasies.  It wasn’t a page-turner, but I was entertained throughout most of the book.  This is part of a series, so I plan to read the next book.

Final rating: 8/10 (0 = die in a fire, 5 = average, 10 = amazeballs)

SpoilerAlert

So Vin was awesome and disappointing at the same time.  Awesome because she managed to go from a downtrodden girl I didn’t like, to a girl with a bit more confidence and spunk, not to mention cool abilities.  She’s starts off as a short-haired, pants-wearing, dirty-faced urchin, and eventually embraces luxuries like perfumed baths and fancy dresses without losing sight of who she is.  A lot of books/movies seem to be afraid to make a kickass girl that likes dresses and girly things, unless she’s a sexy/flirty femme fatale type character, so I’m glad Sanderson didn’t shy away from that.

You can kick ass AND wear dresses!

You can kick ass AND wear dresses!

However, she suffered from Harry Potter Syndrome in that despite all the hype around her, how she won the showdown with The Lord Ruler had nothing to do with her gifted Allomancy abilities.  In fact, it was really nothing special at all, just circumstantial luck/resources: she had the Eleventh Metal and knowledge of the logbook.  Given the same resources, any relatively intelligent Mistborn Allomancer could’ve done the same.

Just keep telling yourself that.

Keep telling yourself that Harry/Vin.

I don’t understand how The Lord Ruler managed to have a young version and an old version, and I can’t remember anything being done to the old version.  I assume that’ll be in a sequel, so I shall read on.

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