S.C. Barrus's Reviews > The Final Empire

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, absolute-favorites

The Final Empire far exceeded my expectations. I'm new to Brandon Sanderson with one exception. I'd tried to read The Way Of Kings last year, and I put it down after 5 chapters. So I wasn't a fan.

I was recommended The Final Empire by my wife. I started reading it, realizing that this was the same author a few chapters in. lucky for me I gave it a chance anyway.

In short, I loved this book. Easily one of my favorite fantasies of recent memory.

The beginning

I didn't get into the plot right away. The first four or five chapters were a slog to get through. But once you pass that brief uphill climb, the characters start to connect and the setting begins to get interesting.

Maybe the first chapter suffer because they're frontloaded with world building. Or maybe because we don't meet the protagonist right away. Hard to say, but something was slowing it down.

The Plot

The plot itself isn't exactly what's engrossing here. It's a pretty standard hero overthrows the evil villain story. What's interesting is how Brandon Sanderson is able to craft a standard villain into a believable human being with doubts and insecurities. It's equivalent to making Sauron from Lord of the Rings a character you could easily relate to.

He does this in numerous ways, but primarily through the use of journal entries. As we read the diary of a man who's about to rise to supreme power, we see that he was not always the evil emperor who enslaves us today. There was a time where he was just a person like you or me.

There are many revelations, and I won't give any of them away, but they culminate into a brilliant Ah ha! moment when the reader finally sees [not a spoiler, you learn this in the beginning] why the Hero of Ages is now the Lord Ruler. Brilliant character development and story telling here.

That's all subtext though. I know! The actual plot follows a thieving crew who's been hired to overthrow the lord ruler. The story follows a fairly predictable path, but that's not what's interesting. What's interesting are the two protagonists who's relationship grows so subtly throughout the book.

There are probably a thousand different moments of slight character progression as they transition from one mentality to another, or as they loose or gain insecurities, or grow just a little closer to another character. Its fascinating to see all this constant movement feel so natural, and it's brilliantly done.


This is fantasy, and it contains a unique magic system. It's fun, limited and believable. Some people have one magic ability, others have many, and the rest have none. I enjoyed the fact that the magic behaved differently than magic I've seen before. It turned out to be a mix of Jedi and Matrix powers, and the combination was fun.

The environment is believable enough. It doesn't stray too far into fantasy lane, meaning there aren't any elves or ogres or goblins, etc. The ash the constantly falls from the sky was a really nice touch, and the mist itself is an ever present thing. I enjoyed how the mist felt like a character at some points. It's these details that carry the setting and keep it interesting.

Writing Style

Brandon Sanderson's writing is direct and clear at all times. He doesn't really get bogged down with metaphors or imagery, opting instead to be clear, concise and flow well without getting in the way. It works well when there's so many intricacies to the plot that any confusion would really hamper the story.

Some writers like to get readers to think through their prose, but Brandon Sanderson likes to get writers to think through his characters and their relationships. I guess what I'm trying to say is: the writing never stood out to me in a bad way, but never stood out in a great way either. It works well and delivers the ideas it needs to effortlessly.


Read this book! Other than the beginning, I don't have any gripes. This was one of the best fantasy books I've ever read, up there with Name of the Wind (if you know me, you know how high praise that is). So give the man some money and have a great time reading.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 10, 2017 – Shelved
April 10, 2017 – Shelved as: fantasy
April 10, 2017 – Shelved as: absolute-favorites

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message 1: by L.E. (new) - added it

L.E. Doggett I need to get that book

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