“The Final Empire”
After I read “Warbreaker” I was very intrigued to dig deeper into Sanderson’s work. My friend Mark again recommended, of his series, the Mistborn series was a good place to go next. So I did. I asked him which one was the first one. Mark laughed and said that even Sanderson apparently admits that maybe naming the first book “The Final Empire” was a bit misleading.
The title may be misleading as where to start, but you quickly get the idea why he titled it the way he did: it’s about The Final Empire of this universe he created. Simple.
After scratching the surface of a magic system in “Warbreaker”, I was delighted to read this series as Sanderson definitely fleshes out another unique magic system, and this time he gives himself a whole trilogy plus an additional novel to develop his magic/history/myth/religious system.
The synopsis of “The Final Empire” from wikipedia:
In Luthadel, the capital city of the Final Empire, Vin, a scrawny street urchin, is recruited by a thieving group led by Kelsier, the Survivor of the pits of Hathsin, a place where atium, the most valuable metal in the world, is mined. He has a plan to steal the rumored atium stash from the Lord Ruler’s treasury and to free the oppressed Skaa in the process.
The actual synopsis in wikipedia is much MUCH longer and gives away too much. I chose these sentences from the first paragraph because they give you just what you need to be hooked into reading. And I think that if you enjoy traditional fantasy, then you will be very pleased by this series. This first book specifically is one that introduces you to the characters involved, the magic system, the cultures, economics and enough of the sociology to get you invested in what’s happening. Sanderson succeeds greatly where other authors can get bogged down: he gives you just enough of the sociology of the world to become invested, but doesn’t overwhelm his readers with the minutiae of details that don’t help further the plot of the book. He also though, doesn’t skimp on the necessary details either. It’s actually quite the precarious balance that he manages and, I think, deftly carries out.
“The Well of Ascension”
This is book #2 of the Mistborn series and I found it incredible! As I was looking at plot summaries for this book to include here, it was hard, because I didn’t want to give too much away. This second sentence from wikipedia does it justice:
Vin is starting to become suspicious of the mist, as they no longer make her feel as at home as they used to. At the same time, Sazed on his journeys has come across suspicious deaths which appear to be due to the mist.
What makes this book stand above the first one is the evolution of the characters. There is a natural flow to their maturity that is wonderful to read and, at times, pretty tough to read as well because you know some of the inevitable choices and actions that must be made. It’s also really refreshing to have such a strong female character in the lead.
“The Hero Of Ages”
A rousing and incredible climax to a great fantasy trilogy! The characters are put into incredible situations and with the wonderful magic system that Sanderson has created are able to make some difficult but necessary choices. In this book you get to know some of the lesser known characters who appear in the first 2 books, namely Spook who is a character that really comes into his own in this book and you can’t help but root for him.
A very fun theme that arose in book 2 and continues in this one is that of faith. One of the main characters, Sazed, struggles with his faith, something you would never have suspected in the first book. And Sanderson treats this delicate issue with a great amount of respect and I think it is one of the many reasons to read this series.
I really don’t want to write too much more because it would be giving too much away…potentially.
“The Alloy of Law”
So, the first 3 books here make up the Mistborn Trilogy. This addition is a book that exists in the world of the Mistborn but happens 300 years after the events in “The Hero Of Ages”, the last of the Mistborn trilogy. It’s a stand alone novel and yet at the same time a sequel. Here’s a part of the summary from wikipedia:
Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.
One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.1
Apparently this book began as a writing exercise and turned out to be a good addition to the Mist world that it was published. I will admit that I wasn’t as happy with it as I expected to be, that is to say that it didn’t exceed my expectations: it met them. That’s always a funny thing right? When something doesn’t exceed our expectations and then we are disappointed. Let me say that you don’t have to read any of the other books in order to enjoy this one; sure, it would help, you’d understand the magic system a little more and even some of the characters too. An enjoyable and fresh read.
I will say that the thing that excited me the most was that this is the same world, the same magic, but not the same time. A very nice and refreshing experiment: you created a world in it’s infancy (the world and magic system) and there was a great story, but the world didn’t end there. It has a future. What happens when you go back? It’s a great idea!!!
If you like fantasy, then this is, in my opinion a must read trilogy plus one. I can’t wait to read more by Sanderson as the years go on 🙂