Jonathan's Reviews > The Final Empire

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
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Dec 07, 14

bookshelves: fantasy-challenge, personal-favourites, favourite-series, fantasy, brandon-sanderson, should-have-a-film, own, worldbuilding
Read from December 19 to 21, 2011 — I own a copy

Add-on December 7 2014:

I completed my first re-read of Mistborn today and I must say that it becomes a lot slower to read the second time when you know where everything is headed. You notice the wordiness of the prose, the clunky dialogue and the fact that there are quite a few spots where it feels overly dramatised rather than necessarily natural. Yet for all of that Brandon Sanderson is a fine storyteller - not necessarily as great a writer at first but he gets a lot better in his later books and isn't the worst I've ever seen.

I want to apologise for being rather absent on here to anyone who is bothering to read this review again or for the first time. I love books, but I love people more and there are some particular people I'm choosing to spend my time with and love. This means I don't have quite the same time for my online presence as before - but it does mean I'm balancing my life and making everything more grounded. I promise I'm still continuing to read. I'm just maturing myself even further and allowing myself to see things in another new perspective. If there's something I can fully recommend about Brandon Sanderson's books it is the challenge in them to think from a new perspective with the religious ideas and magic systems.


Add-on June 15th 2012:

After a little more thought I decided that I'd post a little additional information. Some people argue that Sanderson's work is cliché and long-winded. I can see the long-winded nature of his work in places but if we are talking cliché he uses far less clichés than other works of fiction.

My argument will remain (until someone convinces me otherwise) that the use of cliché is not necessarily bad writing. It is in fact a persuasive technique used to familiarise the audience with what you are writing. Yes an overworking of cliché may be bad but to use cliché here and there I do not agree is poor writing. My argument I back up with the fact that there are no truly original works of fiction anymore.

I think most of the original plots were used up by the time Shakespeare came along. I mean I'm certain I could find a way in which any contemporary work of fiction imitates Shakespeare - who in turn imitated the stories of the Greek and Roman bards. This is of course a subjective argument and will remain so.


Original Review:

It is official. After having read Elantris and this first Mistborn novel (plus his work on the Wheel of Time) Brandon Sanderson is one of the best currently living fantasy authors around.

Mistborn delves into political intrigue, into religion, into the masks people use to hide who they truly are, into superstition and into everyday human emotions. In many ways Mistborn addresses very deep philosophical issues while also being very entertaining. And that in my eyes is the mark of a great writer: a man or woman capable of creating an enjoyable story full of hidden depth.

If you enjoyed Elantris you would enjoy this novel. There is a strong female character, little reliance on cliches and sound plotting and storytelling. The world building is incredibly memorable revealing Sanderson's incredible work ethic as he spares no liberties in layering his world with minutiae as well as a plethora of grand ideas. This is a living and breathing world written in a style that I very much enjoyed. The writing was literary in some aspects, poetic in others and all around a gentle narrative that could be grasped by any fantasy lover as something slightly more fresh.

The magic system was very entertaining and the action derived from it exciting. However I still have a question. Like with many unique magic systems who was it that discovered they could digest metal and 'burn' it to induce specific results? Not only that they could only digest specific metals and perform such acts and the pewter has to be made a special way. Still I'm not complaining. It is simply a question that made me wonder.

This is a grand imaginative tale. If you enjoy fantasy but have had enough of elves, dragons and dwarves (yes we all love Tolkien but sometimes authors need to break a little away from what other people have already written) read this. It will be something a little different centering on humans in a fantastical devastated land.

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Quotes Jonathan Liked

Brandon Sanderson
“Belief isn't simply a thing for fair times and bright days...What is belief - what is faith - if you don't continue in it after failure?...Anyone can believe in someone, or something that always succeeds...But failure...ah, now, that is hard to believe in, certainly and truly. Difficult enough to have value. Sometimes we just have to wait long enough...then we find out why exactly it was that we kept believing...There's always another secret.”
Brandon Sanderson, The Final Empire

Brandon Sanderson
“But you can't kill me, Lord Tyrant. I represent that one thing you've never been able to kill, no matter how hard you try. I am hope.”
Brandon Sanderson, The Final Empire

Brandon Sanderson
“That’s the funny thing about arriving somewhere, Vin,” he said with a wink. “Once you’re there, the only thing you can really do is leave again.”
Brandon Sanderson, The Final Empire


Reading Progress

09/06/2014 marked as: currently-reading
09/14/2014 page 100
18.0% "Clearly early Sanderson on read through but his writing is on thought technically how you get told in creative writing to write" 13 comments
12/06/2014 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-49 of 49) (49 new)

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Fayley Maybe the person who started the metal swallowing would be friends with the person who discovered that you can eat snails.


Jonathan True enough. Although fortunately I found out in book number three how it could be possible in this world. I'll probably re-read this series next year. I like re-reading great books every couple of years.


message 3: by Triv (new) - added it

Triv S. Okay, I'm loving the concept. A deep fantasy with political storylines? Count me in. I'm putting it on my to-read list :-)


Jonathan Yeah Brandon Sanderson's works are really good in terms of political storylines, world building, action, magic systems, different cultures and religious ideologies. He's one of my favourite authors for certain.


message 5: by Triv (new) - added it

Triv S. Jonathan wrote: "Yeah Brandon Sanderson's works are really good in terms of political storylines, world building, action, magic systems, different cultures and religious ideologies. He's one of my favourite authors..."

Awesome! That's all the things I love in fantasy. Ugh! There are too many great books to read!


Jonathan Tell me about it. I have twenty or so here, thirty that I've placed a reserve on at the library and am hoping they don't all come at once and then several hundred others I want to get around to reading.


message 7: by Triv (new) - added it

Triv S. Hehe, that's overwhelming. It's like you don't know where to begin!


Jonathan Nope I don't haha. I'm torn between my desire to read and the knowledge that some books must be returned to the library...


Fayley I've been resisting this book for a while now, but you've convinced me, I just bought it. )Don't you love late night impulse buys on Amazon?)


Jonathan Yes of course I do (not that I have the money for impulse buying) I know a guy who bought a restaurant on an impulse.


Anila Very nice review. Just dropping in to say two things: one, you ain't seen nothing yet; the second and third books blow this one out of the water. Two, your question about the magic system will be answered.


Jonathan haha yeah I read the other two and love them. And I saw that my question was answered. I was just going back and editing this one. The third one completely blew me away in how everything turned out: I did not see that coming from the beginning.


Anila Yeah, the third one... I still haven't recovered. I got a significant portion of the end spoiled for me by a forum, but certain character deaths came out of nowhere.


Jonathan Don't mention the character deaths! Now old wounds are opening. And yes I definitely have not read the metal eating/ other metal power magic system elsewhere.


message 15: by Anila (last edited Jun 15, 2012 11:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anila I would guess maybe the cliche thing was leveled at them for the heist plot? In which case it's still stupid, because heists are one thing but taking down an empire is a completely different one. And that only applies to the first book, anyway.


Jonathan Books 2 and 3 are completely original. I mean sure you have the familiar revolution and consolidation of an Empire side of things but the fantasy characters always keeps you on the edge of your seat.


Anila And.. I dunno if I've just been reading a different section of the genre than everyone else, but I've never seen a series examine the aftermath of a revolution quite so thoroughly.


Jonathan Certainly not in fantasy. It happens in historical fiction a reasonable amount but to create a fictionalised fantasy revolution and then explore the aftermath is pretty impressive.


Jonathan I've heard that Sanderson is pitching this novel to various film companies. I cross my fingers that it gets picked up because it would be perfect source material if done properly with Sanderson involved.


message 20: by Jocelyn (new)

Jocelyn Jonathan wrote: "My argument will remain (until someone convinces me otherwise) that the use of cliché is not necessarily bad writing. It is in fact a persuasive technique used to familiarise the audience with what you are writing. Yes an overworking of cliché may be bad but to use cliché here and there I do not agree is poor writing. My argument I back up with the fact that there are no truly original works of fiction anymore."

I think you mean tropes. Tropes is (kind of) a synonym to cliches, but it has a much less negative connotation. Cliches usually have the connotation of "overused and stupid."


Jonathan Archetype is probably the best word. A trope is more of a literary device that appears often so it's not exactly what I'm referring to. I'm not talking about the repeated use of metaphors or similes in this writing...
Cliche does refer to overused expressions or ideas but not exactly a technique or device. It could have been a unique idea at one time but it has been used too many times.
Archetype is probably closer to what I was referring to though a combination of all three would, perhaps, be even better. Archetype being the old universally understood characters, ideas, symbols etc.


message 22: by Stardrag (last edited Mar 08, 2013 06:44AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Stardrag Well, just because there are no original works doesn't mean that you have to rely on the old school basics of writing. Cliches are like people and while some are good and some are bad, most of a tendency to weigh a story down. It's not the use of cliches that makes up bad writing, but the use of which ones that will make things too obvious. Everything is a trope or cliche and being one doesn't matter, but when I call something cliche it's because of the wrong ones used that make the plot a little too obvious. It's like how while an archetype brings a sense of familiarity, it's how you make it your own that really stands out. But Brandon's usually good with characters who matter concerning them so I don't usually worry too much about those from him.


Jonathan Well no, you don't have to rely on the tropes, clichés or archetypes but I do think that all writers will be forced to use some on occasion. I quite like it therefore when authors give me something fresh by changing those clichés and subverting them, using them for a purpose rather than using them because it's the accepted norm of writing.


Stardrag Yes, all of them do in some way (it;s impossibly to not any cliches or tropes at all), but not the kind that break the plot at it's most critical point. I do agree that the subversion and reworking of those cliches are great. But with the Lord Ruler, neither happened. He was so busy gloating that he lost--one of the worst cliches for a villain. I haven't finished the third book though, so maybe it'll answer the question why Vin is so special.

BTW, the second book was better, way more consistent.


Jonathan Yes, and as you start to see in book two the Lord Ruler is not particularly villainous. I didn't exactly see it as him gloating that he'd won and then dying (which I always laugh at in the scenes like the one in James Cameron's Avatar with the soldier at the end) but then perhaps when I go to re-read it my opinion may change!


Stardrag Ah! I remember that scene! But didn't he talk as he fought them? The Lord Ruler stopped everything just to brag. But now to dip into spoilers!

(view spoiler)


Jonathan (view spoiler)

Nope, he fights them and then finally stops everything with a knife in his hand to give a monologue. I love the scene from the Incredibles which makes a joke out of this idea when Syndrome goes 'you caught me monologuing!'


Stardrag That part I remember. I'm waiting for the day where the baby grows up since it basically has not only shape-shifting powers, but elemental powers that can be combined with it. I loved that movie.

Okay, that sucks then. I wish I liked that movie more though. It sure was pretty though, but story wise, it wasn't that impressive. Oh, and the made up language was good too. Gotta love it when they make up a language in any media. I heard they were making a sequel to--whenever that comes out.

That's the problem with these books, it lashes you into the next book. Not saying I won't read the third--since I brought it and everything already--but it should be able to stand on its own, right?


Jonathan Yeah I want an Incredibles tv series or sequel :( Almost as much as I'm looking forward to this Monsters Inc prequel.

Yeah, visually it was very impressive but not as much story as it could have.

It should stand alone and I like them each on their own but I like them better together. It makes for a strong trilogy. Gormenghast is different and therefore not really a trilogy.


message 30: by Fran (new) - rated it 5 stars

Fran WOW, just wow. I just rushed the last 300 pages an i can't beleive it was SO GOOD! tomorrow i will start the second one, i hope it's as good as this one.


Jonathan Fran wrote: "WOW, just wow. I just rushed the last 300 pages an i can't beleive it was SO GOOD! tomorrow i will start the second one, i hope it's as good as this one."

Really glad you enjoyed it Fran. I personally think the sequels are even stronger but others disagree with me particularly as regards the second one. Hope you enjoy them anyway!


Nermin I agree about the sequels and I think the second book was the best one.


♥♡¢σσкιє♥♡ (Krystle) I have the entire trilogy and plan on reading it eventually so I read and loved your review, but when I got to your update I think I literally squealed in delight. I agree 100% that all original plotlines where used up in shakespearean times. Of course you can link everything from Love triangles to betrayal by your best friend back to Shakespeare. I don't care if authors use cliches, just as long as they put their own spin on it.

Like I said, the best people come from Australia! :)


Jonathan ♥♡¢σσкιє♥♡ wrote: "I have the entire trilogy and plan on reading it eventually so I read and loved your review, but when I got to your update I think I literally squealed in delight. I agree 100% that all original pl..."

Ah thanks, it's a trilogy I enjoyed immensely. Someone once said something along the lines of 'there are only four plots and Shakespeare wrote them all'. Not entirely true because each plot is unique in its own particular way but true enough. :)


♥♡¢σσкιє♥♡ (Krystle) That's a good quote! I think I'll use that one. :)


Jonathan Yeah a friend of mine said it to me. Scholars of course say there are seven plots: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php...


message 37: by Helen (last edited Sep 05, 2013 10:57PM) (new) - added it

Helen Jonathan wrote: "Yeah a friend of mine said it to me. Scholars of course say there are seven plots: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php..."

And some say there are 20 Master Plots.

ETA:
But there are so many variations and combinations that can be made out of them. While I understand that's not what you meant, Jonathan, "Shakespeare already wrote everything" is usually used as an excuse to be uncreative.

For a positive example, when the movie "Drive" came out, many critics listed several movies it cribbed elements from, but all agreed it manages to put a new spin to it. (It wasn't the kind of spin I like, so I gave it a pass, but that says something too - there is still enough difference for me to think I would not like it even though I enjoyed something similar.)

For a negative example, there is nothing wrong in writing a story about forbidden love. Or making different species the source of the conflict. But the problem appears when she is new to the town, they meet in the biology class, and he is trying to scare her off at first but then gives in.

But there is another kind of failure; borrowing too much, but from various sources, can still turn out to be borrowing too much. The best example of this is Cassandra Claire. She borrowed just a little from various sources - but ultimately ended up with too much borrowed, too little her own.


Jonathan I definitely understand that. It's a problem with the reactive approach to writing an update that I ended up coming across, in hindsight, as rather brusque.

I would actually say that as well as being uncreative 'it has already been done' is an excuse for some to be lazy or sloppy. The reasoning being: 'others have invented all the ideas so I can't work hard to make my own or make a complex character of my own.'


Jonathan Helen wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "Yeah a friend of mine said it to me. Scholars of course say there are seven plots: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php..."

And some say there are 20 Master ..."


Oh I have heard of that, but I've never looked into it. Many people say there are all kinds of plot types. It was referenced in The Amazing Spiderman that the idea of seven plots was wrong and that there was only one plot: who am I.


message 40: by Steven (new)

Steven If you like Sanderson, read Steelheart


Jonathan Steven wrote: "If you like Sanderson, read Steelheart"

Already have. I've read all his books aside from Alcatraz.


Ayman Teaman what changed in the review?


Jonathan Just a couple of bookshelves. Nothing else...not yet anyway. I have to re-read it soon though.


Denae Christine Alcatraz books are very good, too. :)


Jonathan Denae wrote: "Alcatraz books are very good, too. :)"

Nice to know that. I've been tossing up whether or not to read them...


message 46: by Cecily (new)

Cecily I'm not familiar with the book or author, but I like your comments about cliché and (un)original plots.


Jonathan Cecily wrote: "I'm not familiar with the book or author, but I like your comments about cliché and (un)original plots."

If you like fantasy in any way you should enjoy the book enough for its plot. It's quite entertaining.


message 48: by Cecily (new)

Cecily I'm very fond of some books that are often classed as fantasy, but I don't really think of myself as a fantasy fan. There's usually something further up my TBR list, but thank you.


Ayman Teaman I don't think I'll be re-reading his books anytime soon, and not Mistborn series anyway-- despite how much i love it.

Maybe in a decade or so when I have read much more books and have forgotten most everything in this series that I'd give it a shot again.


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