The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
What if the Dark Lord won?
The Final Empire, the first book in a trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, is a tale of a subjugated people known as the Skaa, and their fight for freedom against a seemingly invincible God known as the Lord Ruler. The Lord Ruler has ruled this world for a thousand years through his Inquisitors and Obligators. The Skaa who have been subjugated for so long are incapable of fighting back. That is until Kelsier a Mistborn who, along with his crew of Mistings and other talented individuals, begins a rebellion against the Lord Ruler and the Nobility. The Mistborn are a special people who are able to burn metals to illicit different responses. This process is known as Allomancy and Vin, a member of a thieving crew, is enlisted by Kelsier in his crusade to free the Skaa.
The Final Empire starts off with a gripping prologue and instantly holds the reader's attention with the excitement and anticipation of what is surely to follow. The writing is smooth and has an easy and accomplished style and the setting of this mist covered world is well crafted and thought out. It is immediately engaging and before I knew it I was a hundred pages in.
The story is told through our two main protagonists Vin and Kelsier. Both are well drawn characters and their motivations are clearly explained. They continue to develop throughout the novel and Vin is a particularly alluring character as she battles against her role in this rebellion. Both are users of Allomancy. Allomancy is the ability to burn metal through liquid ingestion and create certain responses such as added strength or enhanced senses. You will find certain similarities with Magneto from X Men and if you throw in those abilities from the characters of the eighties program Monkey you will get an idea of what Allomancy is and can do. The story features other players and these too are well crafted. As the book progresses we are further introduced to the character of the Nobleman Elend Venture and we begin to see his perspective as well.
In conclusion, it is book which I wholeheartedly recommend to lovers of fantasy who fancy something a little bit different. It is a book of Good against Evil, although it differs from other books in the way that it is told so that we are left completely unsure of the outcome. It has interesting characters and an original system of magic in Allomancy as well as one of the better endings I have read for a long time. It is also a highly compelling read and has the right blend of characters and suspense to ensure the reader will be eager to seek out the following book in the trilogy.
Allan Fisher (9.1/10)
Upon finishing the first in Brandon Sanderson's 'The Stormlight Archive' series which debuted two months ago, I knew I had to read more of his work. I had tried reading Elantris but never gotten into it, but figured that I would give 'Mistborn' a try as it has always received such high praise and rave reviews.
I'm glad I did.
'Mistborn: The Final Empire' is one of the most stunning entrances to a series I have had the pleasure of reading, and it finishes the story that you originally think will take all three books to finish, in the first book, leaving for a much greater and deeper story then you originally suspected.
That is always one of my favourite surprises.
Our hero is a heroine, Vin, a 16 year old thief who starts off on the streets of Luthadel and undergoes one of the most realistic character transformations I've read, with doubts kicking in all the way through to the end of the book while still coupled with reality in how to deal with those around her. In other words, she's not cooped up inside her own head with her doubts all the time, making for a realistic person you can get on board with and understand.
The story itself is magnificent, and really did keep me clueless until the reveal in the last chapter of the book. I'm not the world's greatest literary detective, but any of my suppositions were entirely inaccurate by the end, another feeling I really enjoy.
The sheer breadth of character development and depth is fascinating to read and makes for a group of characters that are captivating till the end. No matter what the age, there is strength in them, wisdom and a role to play.
Sanderson writes with such a skilful hand, blending perspectives smoothly with barely a hiccup, wrapping the story through the characters intricately, and ensuring that you are very much attached to everyone you should be, and hating those you should. The surprises are real, the emotions are real, and Sanderson knows how to write a fantasy story like very few others.
If you want to read one of the best fantasy books published in the last decade, then this definitely has to go at the top of your list. With two books you can read immediately after, characters that jump off the page, and a story that continues beyond this book but still leaving you fully satiated, Mistborn: The Final Empire is a must have for any reader of good fantasy.
Joshua S Hill (9.8/10)
A video book review by WordsAndOtherGoodIdeas
Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy has swept the shelves of thousands of awestruck readers, and for good reason. In classic Sanderson style, this book is filled with an original magic system which has a beautiful internal consistency and is well constructed as part of the world. Sanderson makes what could be a complex novel into one which is clear and can be easily followed, leading the reader through explanations of the world, government, and smaller things with natural grace. The characters are engaging and realistic, they will capture your attention and, perhaps in some cases, your emotion as well. A stunning introduction to a wonderful trilogy.
All reviews for: Mistborn
The Final Empire
Mistborn: Book 1
For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear while the Lord Ruler reigned with absolute power ...
The Well of Ascension
Mistborn: Book 2
The impossible has happened. The Lord Ruler is dead has been vanquished. But so too is Kelsier the man who masterminded the triumph. The awesome task of rebuilding the worl...
The Hero of Ages
Mistborn: Book 3
Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed ...
The Alloy of Law
Mistborn: Book 4
The Mistborn trilogy has become a firm favourite with fantasy fans the world over. The imagination that Sanderson brought to the series and his skill at marshalling epic st...
Shadows of Self
Mistborn: Book 5
Waxillium Ladrian has returned to the capital city of Elendel from the far flung roughs. Elendel is crisscrossed by canals and railways and towers reach for the sky but thi...
The Bands of Mourning
Mistborn: Book 6
The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly any...
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The Final Empire reader reviews
Brooklyn from Australia
While the dialogue was awkward at some parts, overall this was a really good read. Highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good fantasy book.
Andersen from Kenya
I enjoyed this book very much. I liked how it could stand alone and I did not have to read the rest of the series to feel satisfied. I am not surprised about the cardboard characters considering the length of the book.
Richard from Quebec
I agree with the other reviewers about the originality of the setting and of the magic system. It is a refreshing change, and I also enjoyed the politics - not as intricate, by far, as Game of Thrones, but it definitely adds a dimension to the book. However, I also agree with those reviewers who find the writing and pacing rather ponderous: the book is carried by the plot, not the characters, who are two dimensional even when they are ostensibly complex and self-contradictory: these self-contradicvtions do not seem to lead to much introspection or to any particular twists (though the book *does* have twists, and the ending is very good). Rather, this introspection leads to pages of space filling text whiih adds little to the characters or to the plot. The fights are OK, but a bit repetitive once one has figured out how the allomantic powers work. So, I enjoyed the Final Empire - I needed a good (quick) read -, but am not getting into book 2 (Well of Ascension), probably because I now simply need a good read. I am sure, however, that I'll eventually get round to reading the whole series, as and when I need a little brain candy. To sum up: a good plot-driven read, average writing, highly original setting and magic system, but not a major classic (at least from where I sit!).
Catalin from Romania
One of the best series i've read in a looooong time. I find this B Sanderson an awesome writer, and since he finished my favourite series Wheel of Time i have to say you man ROCK!!!. After this mindblowing series ( who ascends thing left me with my mouth open and going...What the... F... it was so obvious and i didn't had a clue :)) ). Then i went and read Stormlight archives and i've gone.. You sir are RR Martin's and Tolkien's equal.
Paul from United Kingdom
I am 355 pages into this book, and l cannot take anymore. What lets this book down is the plotting, info dumps, exposition and the flat characters with they're wooden dialogue. It's poorly written and lacking in a certain descriptive passion for it's world building, too. Also, where is the emotion in all what the characters say, where is the rage and anger if need be? The fight scenes are bogged down in 'he pushed this, he pulled that', which is annoying. I just cannot believe how this book has garnered so much 'love', especially when these issues are all apparent and commonplace.
Xavier from Austria
All things considered, I greatly enjoyed this book and will begin upon book two almost immediately. It was a good book. The 'magic' system was cleverly thought-out, logical and fresh. The main characters were strong and formed strong mental impressions. I found Sanderson to be a very skillful author - the narrative felt like it had been carefully crafted using masses of notes and calculations. There was an admirable level of attention to detail and simple hard work. The reason my rating is a little stingy is that I felt the odd plot element felt a little convenient and the fight scenes left me a little cold, although I know that other readers have the complete opposite reaction to them. This was my third Sanderson work after The Rithmatist and short story in an anthology and I am happy to concede that I am fan. I feel in safe hands whenever reading his books. Recommended.
Sarah from US
Man, what a ride. People always acclaim authors who manage to twist our expectations, so there has been an unfortunate trend lately of not-so-good authors doing that poorly. Sanderson, on the other hand, does it - and does it well. There's also how well the characters are fleshed out - they have doubts, they have flaws, but yet you can still tell they're on the side of good. Too many authors use the "anti-hero", and that kind of hero is hard to sympathize with. However, while both characters have flaws and made major mistakes, Vin and Kelsier are both ultimately on the side of good. This was a very refreshing read in a multitude of ways, from a strong female character who still had feminine traits to the amazingly detailed magic system -seriously, it gets into percentages. This is the kind of book where you can still enjoy it without thinking too much, but it also stands the rigorous analysis of critical thinking.
Dan from Canada
Mistborn is yet another masterpiece that I find myself wondering how Brandon Sanderson can come up with such brilliant ideas.
Roy from Berlin, Germany
There are a few things Brandon Sanderson does really well in this book, namely the worldbuilding, magic systems, plotting and the numerous plot-twists, but unfortunately the combined effort of the all of this is simply not enough to hide some of the glaring problems present in this book and as an extension, in the entire series. First of all let me focus on the positives of this book. With Mistborn, Sanderson creates one of the most original settings I have come across in any work of modern fantasy. He cleverly sidesteps the genre conventions and obsessions with pseudo-medieval settings and instead opts to create a setting more reminiscent of 18th century London with a touch of misty nights and ash stained buildings. The setting was so different to what I was used to that there were moments where I had to remind myself that this was not Medieval Europe as my imagination kept defaulting back to that setting. Next we have the magic system, which at first sounded nonsensical but to my surprise I found myself completely captivated by it as the story progressed (to the point where I began entertaining thoughts of how awesome it would be to have Allomantic powers in real life!). Allomancy is, without a doubt, one of the most original magic system ever conceived in a work of fantasy and I genuinely hope that we see more of it in other works of Sanderson. Then there is the plot. Sanderson is a master of the 'red herring' trope (essentially providing the reader with false clues to get them to make false assumptions about certain things only to prove them completely wrong later without making it feel cheap). He uses this plot device to perfection and this leads to a number of clever twists in the story you just won't see coming unless you look at things from various different perspectives. Right, now that we've go that out of the way let's address the elephant in the room. One would think that with all the above mentioned pros this book has to offer that it would be an instant fantasy classic. It's a shame then that this book, for all it has to offer, is held up by some really terrible and amateurish writing. The best way I can describe Sanderson's writing is like a piece of unpolished wood; it's rough, splintery and overall just not that enjoyable. Reading his prose is like rubbing your face against said piece of wood. Ultimately you walk away with quite an experience and a face full of splinters while simultaneously trying to convince yourself that it 'wasn't so bad'. The pacing is plagued with problems as well, as intense, blistering action sequences between battling Mistborn are immediately followed by awkward ballroom politicking. One could argue that these quiet moments server as a necessary break between the action but the consistency and transition to these events could have been smoother. That being said, I will say that the last 150-200 pages of this novel are some of the most exciting chapter I have read in modern fantasy. Finally there are the characters who are, how do I put this, flat. You can tell Sanderson *tries* and tries really hard to make three dimensional characters and he puts in a commendable effort to do so, but ultimately it feels like his efforts are wasted. Let's look at Vin for instance, she's obviously Sanderson's ideal of a strong female character (which she is) and that's not where her faults lie, it's in her characterization. Put simply, Vin has a contradicting personality, she sometimes acts out of character and does nonsensical things, things which her character generally should not do. I don't know whether the conflicting personality was Sanderson's idea of making three dimensional characters but the end result feel like a hack job and Vin's overall character development feels forced and unrealistic. We are led to believe that she somehow changes while still remaining the same. Then there is the rest of the 'crew' who only get flatter from here on out, except for Kelsier and Dockson who I genuinely though were the only characters with some real depth and potential. The other crew-members are stereotypical cut-outs dressed to look like they aren't. Also another thing I never understood was that if all the members of this crew are thieves, why don't you ever see them doing some actual thievery? It is simply implied that the crew-members are accomplished thieves yet not a single example is given of their exploits. They are all presented as jolly-good do-gooders, like some modern Robin Hood and his Merry Men gang. Also towards the end of the book Sanderson makes one of the most mindbogglingly dumb moves which I felt was completely unnecessary and thrown in for the pure sake of shock value. All in all, if you are new to the fantasy genre and you are looking for a book that is akin to sitting through a Marvel flick then Mistborn is the book for you but if you happen to be a more seasoned fantasy consumer (or frequent reader of quality books of any genre for that matter) then the flaws of this book become apparent almost immediately (one word sentences anyone?). I wouldn't wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone but if you are interested in the plot and the premise of the book and are willing to overlook it's flaws then you might find something worthwhile in it.
Chris from UK
It's a lovely concept, the author has obviously filled several notebooks with thoughts as to how the "magic" system operates and how the society is structured... but as a novel it's weak, really weak. The writing is embarrassing in places, very clunky indeed. I feel bad writing that myself as I can only imagine how hard it is to write a novel but I think the method behind the story is the driving force here and the building of characters and interesting interactions has been missed. This is pure plot. The battle / action scenes that appear to excite everyone are merely lists of instructions: he pulled on this, anchored on that, moved up down or sideways and then did it again and again and again...and now somewhere else. The characters are so flat and changeless, the language ponderous the ideas repeated endlessly...yes, I get it, wearing white is a bit special, this place is dirty....I GET IT. I won't be reading the next 2 in the series, I just don't feel the need to put myself through that.
John from USA
While I admire the endeavor put in this work, I find trying to topple whoever was thought to be God in some 600 pages funny.
Ginny from UK
Every time you think you've guessed what will happen next, the plot takes another twist. The characters are awesome; although there are 'goodies' and 'baddies' they are realistic, with real strengths and failings and the ability to die. The fight scenes are well described, with enough detail to visualise exactly what is going on while keeping the suspense and excitement. At first I was annoyed at what I thought were logical fallacies in the magic system. I needn't have worried, as it was all explained slightly later in the book, and is really clever. The world and the creatures in it are designed really well. The text is a little unwieldy in places, but the plot will keep you hooked. There is always another secret...
Nick from UK
Amazing concept absolutely original and inspiring! I loved every minute of the action and climaxes of all 3 books. HOWEVRE the writing style and narration was altogether clumsy and at parts (dealing with emotions) cringe y. The change of story line and plot development from 1st to 3rd book was also impressive and refreshing. However i still found it hard to push past the writting, Elend and Vin were just awkward cliches and their relationship at times made me shudder. I am afraid you cannot compare the prose to Martins GOT or other similar works. Sanderson's writing in the past tense made me feel like I never actually new the characters only what Sanderson wanted me to think... there was no chance for interpretation. I would definitely recommend this trilogy but not as a 'life changer'.
A. BAMF from Amerrricaa
Just finished the first book, and it's amazing. Sanderson's prose is not that skillful or flowery like Martin's but this works in his favor. Though easy to read there's a lot going on in between the lines, which makes this an awesome read. I was skeptical going in to this but I can say without a doubt that this is definitely a book I won't forget for a while.
Gary from Canada
The intricacy of magic systems is taken up a notch in this novel known as Mistborn, The Final Empire. Brandon Sanderson introduces us to a world ruled by an immortal emperor and contains a mystical ilk that generate power through the consumption of metal allomancy. This highly original story became an instant success financially and critically throughout North America making Brandon Sanderson a force to be reckon with. The Final Empire is an intriguing world that has ash falling leisurely through the sky frequently from distant volcanoes. Their cities are filled with slums cluttered with cruel peons and street urchins. On the upper class are the nobles that run the cities by conducting the work of the proletariat. As I ramble on you can notice that Sanderson indeed cares about the social structure of his world. Our antagonist is the emperor, the highest tier of nobility in Luthadel. Our protagonist is the young street urchin Vin; the lowest class in Luthadel. So, candidly speaking, the protagonist and antagonist of the novel are social opposites. Already, I am enjoying the concept of Mistborn. Unlike our usual high fantasy favourites, Mistborn doesn't contain sorcerers, trolls, elves or dragons but nobles and serfs (some with a mysterious ability to fly and propel energy by several methods). Mistborn is so elaborate and exuberant in execution, yet it does not take away the mysticism. The story Mistborn begins with Vin and progresses with two others, Dockson and Kelsier. I found that these two male characters to be the most interesting and by far the most well developed. As for Vin, she is clearly damaged emotionally but with these flaws only add intensity to her development. In my opinion, the story isn't really anything to revere over. The idea of a secret fraternity of Mistborn skaa training to commit a usurp over the evil Lord Ruler is something I found a bit overused. But after reading the novel, you find that the story is not only embellished with the different methods of prose supplied by Sanderson but modified. Vin progressing with Kelsier as a Mistborn was excellently produced, it was so obvious how special this magic system was to Sanderson that his passion was figuratively written with each word. By far one of the most commendable aspects of The Final Emperor is the scenes of action. Every word Sanderson uses seems to blend perfect creating a lasting mental image in your head. Although there may be some cliched writing techniques added to each of the chapter's ending, I would find it hard to believe that any fan of fantasy find his writing anything other than immaculate. For anyone considering to read an exciting novel, Mistborn will be my first recommendation although one may not find it like their typical epic fantasy. As we progress, we are introduced to knew characters which are generally easy to follow with. I found the addition of a romance between Vin and the nobleman Elend to be out of taste in this kind of novel. Although I highly dislike juxtaposing the two, I found it to be too similar, in style, to Titanic. Although it is much different in content, the concept of the two social classes is far too familiar. Another complaint would be the unneeded sentimentality added to the story, something that is unfairly manipulative and an addition any story really never needs unless absolutely necessary. Overall, Mistborn is a definite classic in this phenomenon of a genre. Brandon Sanderson proves himself to be a worthy protege of Robert Jordan and one of the greatest writers of our century, alongside Steve Erikson, Robin Hobb and George R.R. Martin.
Hrishikesh from Pune
Has to be one the best books ever written. Also the battle between Vin and the 13 Steel Inquisitors has to be the best battle scene ever written.
Apellon from France
Amazing books, I haven't read the third one yet but my favourite one was the first one... it's a masterpiece that could stand on his own... I liked the second book too, but it had this slightly displeasing Wheel of Time taste around the end... Yet those books are amazing. I am going to read the third one as soon as I can. When people come and tell me "I've read Game of Thrones, it's pretty cool" or "I read The Hunger Games blah blah"... I tell them "Shut up and go read Mistborn and you'll understand what a good book is!".
Jeroen from The Netherlands
The first book I read from Brandon Sanderson and I am very impressed! The dialogues can be better sometimes but the story is very good. The magical way these people use the metals is a marvel of fantasty. At the moment I am reading book 2 of the series and it is just as enthralling as the first one!
Shell from Winchester
Have been reading fantasy for over half a century - to discover an original now makes me long for more reading hours in the day.
Meir from NY
The Best 3 book series of all time.
This is one of the best, no, the best book I've read. He has captured the emotions in a remarkable way and you don't doubt that it is real for a second when you read it!
Wouter from Netherlands
By far one of the best books I read in years. I think it is better then the Weel of Time series. Sanderson has the potential to influence the genre like Tolkien did. Awesome.
When I first started reading this book I thought "What's this rubbish steel pushing and iron pulling nonsense?" but the more I read the more it drew me in - what a book! I cannot wait to get started on the next book, I am working through the top 10 list and this book deserves to be at number 1.
Ryan from Newcastle, Australia
This book is by far the best fantasy book I have read in years. Sanderson has managed to take the seemingly stale genre of epic fantasy and reinvigorate it with a fully fleshed out world complete with intricate magic systems and complex charismatic characters. Behind every secret is another secret...
Eric from Quebec, Canada
Mistborn makes you think about many subjects such as Hope, Happiness and Faith, which I believe are paramount in today's materialistic society. A nicely thought magic system, compelling characters, a very interesting plot and enough actions to keep you turning the page =)
8.2/10 from 26 reviews
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