As someone who isn’t a huge fan of the fantasy genre, Brandon Sanderson is the kind of author I can appreciate. His writing style is precise, economical and steers clear of unnecessarily flowery prose. He is a disciplined writer who has set out to write multi-part narratives and completed them on time (take note George RR Martin, Patrick Rothfuss and a dozen other over-ambitious dudes).
In the handful of his books that I’ve read, he’s shown a flair for creating some immensely likeable protagonists and most importantly, he’s a great ideas man. Whether its whole kingdoms, strange creatures or systems of magic, he writes with a knack for detail and clarity that hooks you in as a reader.
The first Sanderson books I read were a couple of stand alone stories – Elantris (his debut) and Warbreaker. I quickly became a fan of his work and was keen to pick up The Mistborn Trilogy, his most popular and best known series.
It begins with The Final Empire, which sets the stage with a rather novel premise. In the world of Scadrial, a prophesized Hero ascends to Godhood at the Well of Ascension so that they can defeat the Deepness that has consumed the land. Only once the Deepness is vanquished, the Hero transforms into the tyrannical and immortal Lord Ruler, ruling the kingdom with an iron fist for a thousand years. The skies are permanently clouded and rain ash. Colour has ebbed away from the world which is now consumed with mist. Rebellions have come and gone but the Lord Ruler remains in power, controlling the populace with the help of Allomancers, nobility who rule over the common folk who are known as skaa.
The latest rebellion against Lord Ruler is lead by Kelsier, a powerful Mistborn who somehow survived and escaped the Pits of Hathsin, the Lord Rulers’ prison camp. Kelsier has a small team of experienced allies who he intends to use in overthrowing the empire by collapsing its economy and stealing the materials required for magic use. Kelsier is driven by revenge as his wife was killed in the Pits of Hathsin.
Kelsier happens upon Vin, a street urchin who shows the capability to become an all-powerful Mistborn, although she is very inexperienced and naive in the ways of the world. Kelsier decides to use her as a spy, in the guise of Valette Renoux, the niece to Lord Renoux, a man who also works with Kelsier. In this role, Vin is to infiltrate the nobility and learn about any opportunities to disrupt and dismantle the Empire. Things take a turn when she begins to develop feelings for Elend, the estranged son of one of the most powerful nobles.
I loved The Final Empire. It’s a fascinating premise and is Sanderson’s most well-realized fantasy world that he’s created. As I read The Final Empire, I vividly pictured the world of Scadrial in my head thanks to Sanderson’s excellent prose. The idea of a corrupt hero-turned-ruler is executed well and there is a great dynamic at play between Vin and Kelsier. Kelsier is the leader of the people and has the experience but he is also reckless, impulsive and fatalistic. Vin is inexperienced, has issues with trust but she also seems to have the most raw talent with using magic and has the greatest potential for taking down Lord Ruler.
Knowing that The Final Empire was the first book in a trilogy, I was completely thrown by the third act, where there are two major events and significant character deaths I did not see coming. It establishes an exciting, whole new premise for The Well of Ascension, the second book in the series. Going into it, I feel all bets are off and I cannot wait to see where Sanderson takes the story next.
From first impressions, all the good buzz about the Mistborn Trilogy is thoroughly deserved.