Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson


I picked Mistborn: The Final Empire up because I’d recently been to the Gollancz Festival and this book was one of four given a special hardback edition to celebrate their tenth birthdays. I’d already read and loved The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (my favourite book of all time, and one I just can’t put into the right words for a blog) and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. The fourth in that set is The Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd, who turns out to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met/been shoved into a conversation with but the book itself is one I haven’t managed to convinced myself to try yet.

So Mistborn. It looks like quite a huge rambly series, consisting so far of a trilogy, with two more trilogies promised in the next fifty or so years, the Wax and Wayne series, which is currently three books with at least another one to come plus a companion book to the first trilogy. To be frank, that’s the sort of collection I wouldn’t normally touch with a barge pole but evidently I was feeling optimistic one day. It’s set in one of these olde-time future worlds, a post-apocalypse future where technology and society have been reset back to roughly the middle ages and there’s ash falling permanently from the sky, making everything brown and grey. I was hopeful for a volcano – I love me a volcano – but it wasn’t to be.

It was the line on the front cover – What if the Dark Lord won? I was quite excited by that – ooh, how interesting, a world in which the heroes didn’t win, a world in which good was conquered by bad and where we start at the end, this is great! And very quickly it dawned on me that that’s how a lot of these kind of books begin. A lot of fantasy involves good vs evil and good can only win if there’s something there to beat – if evil isn’t in control at the beginning, it soon kicks in and plenty of stories start with people suffering in a terrible world.

Did I like the book? Other than feeling a bit taken in by the suggestion that there was something vastly different and clever about the set-up, I don’t know. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I disliked it but I also wouldn’t go so far as to say I feel a desperate need to read the next six books. It’s a book that I think would have made a far better graphic novel – Kelsier’s Allomantic powers would have worked so well in a visual format. I liked that the Allomancy basically turned some of the characters into fantasy superheroes – but if you’re writing fantasy, you’ve got magic at your disposal. You can give your characters any power you like. But the flying and the way they kind of shoot things at each other using their minds, that was pretty cool, that was pretty superhero-y.

I’m fine with Vin. I like Vin, I like her going from street urchin to finding a place but knowing what’s going to happen in the future and discovering that she’s not sure who’s she’s meant to be. And I’ll go along with her happening to be a freakishly powerful Allomancer.

Kell, on the other hand. The charismatic and witty Kell, who makes himself into a religion. I’m not sure I saw all that much of the charisma and wit. I liked dark and angry Kell, vengeful Kell, scheming Kell. I was hoping he’d form a trio with Locke Lamora and Kvothe Kingkiller but I’m not sure he fits in. I think Kell would have worked quite well as an antihero – he’s definitely got potential to be the new Dark Lord and several of his friends think so too.

I might read the rest of the trilogy at some point. Right now, I’ve got a few too many books on my to-read list to add any more – Slow Train to Switzerland should probably be next, or the VE Schwab books, or even get on with finishing my own book.

(Have I mentioned recently how very much I love The Lies of Locke Lamora? Go and read it, please.)

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