Ann's Reviews > Mistborn

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
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's review
Jan 16, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended for: lovers of epic fantasy

** spoiler alert ** This is the second published fantasy novel for Sanderson, the first being Elantris, which I have also read. Elantris was an impressive first novel, and to my delight, Sanderson's skill has only improved with Mistborn.

The story takes a common trope: the hero that saves the world, and twists it so that one thousand years later, that hero is now a tyrant and the world is not a place where you'd want to live. It's oppressive, both physically: ash falls like snow, the plants are all brown, the sun burns red and psychologically: there's a huge gap between the nobles and the slave-class, the skaa. The Lord Ruler's power is felt in his Obligators, who are more or less priests/tax collectors, and even more so in the Steel Inquisitors, who are seemingly immortal beings with steel spikes driven through their heads. They enforce the Lord Ruler's religion and will. Into this, throw a small band of thieves who begin to plot a dangerous job: Overthrow the Lord Ruler.

The main focus of the novel is on two half-skaa: Kelsier and Vin.

Vin is a young woman who grew up on the streets and is part of a thieving crew. She's used (and physically abused) by her crew-chief as a kind of goodluck charm... she can affect people's emotions and cause them to give in to suggestion more easily. Unfortunalty, her crew-chief decided to try to trick the obligators, and takes Vin with him... and Vin's powers are discovered. Luckily for her, she's also discovered by Kelsier, another thieving crew chief, but of a very different kind. Kelsier saves Vin and informs her that she is Mistborn, as is he.

And this is where Sanderson really shines... he creates a unique magic system built on "burning" metals, that is, physically ingesting them and using them for magic, called Allomancy. Each metal gives the wielder a power and the alloy of that metal gives the wielder the opposite property. Only the nobles (and not all of them) have this ability, and for the most part, those that do have it can only burn one metal. A very small number of those can burn all and are Mistborn. (It's a one or all skill. You can either burn only one, or you can burn them all.)

The nobles are not to produce children with the skaa, and those that do are killed (both the nobles and the children) but a few survive. Nobles that do have sex with skaa women (and remember, they're slaves) just kill them when they're done.

Kelsier trains Vin as Mistborn and brings her into her crew. They're working on an impossible, crazy job: to overthrow the Final Empire. The story really is one of Vin finding herself and learning to trust others. It's also the story of Kelsier sacrificing himself for the greater good.

It's a good tale.

The beginning is very strong, an opening that world builds well, but shows us what the world is like. The novel does spend a lot of time in the character's heads and at strange times (like Vin thinking about Allomancy theory while beaten and nearly naked in the Lord Ruler's dungeon), but the action scenes, such as Vin and Kelsier training and fighting as Mistborn are very well done. My biggest complaint was that the budding romance between Vin and Elend Venture, the heir to one of the most powerful noble houses, felt a bit flat. It just wasn't... passionate enough.

The Lord Ruler was properly tyrannical and his power impressive and oppressive. The Steel Inquisitors were just plain scary. I don't want to meet one, ever.

The ending was satisfying, though it felt a bit rushed. The climax is on page 573, and the book ends 70 paqes later, and that includes an eleven page epilogue. I was out of breath by the breakneck speed of the falling action. But there are more books, so he didn't have to neatly clean everything up.

Overall, an enjoyable, well-written novel. I'd recommend this one as a good read, if you're into epic fantasy. If, for nothing else, than the magic system. The one in Elantris was cool, too.
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