The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson is the first novel in his Mistborn trilogy. This is the first Brandon Sanderson novel I have read and it will certainly not be the last; Sanderson creates that wonderful combination of excellent story telling and beautiful writing in an extraordinary setting. The Final Empire turned out to be everything I could possibly want in a fantasy epic.
The world is divided. The nobility has everything they could possibly want – money, prestige, and magic. The skaa have nothing. In an ash-covered world, they are forced to slave away for their ‘betters’. They have no rights and half-breed children are absolutely forbidden. Forbidden, but not unheard of. Kelsier had a noble father and, unbeknownst to the nobility, a skaa mother. He is a Mistborn. One of the most magically powerful people in the Final Empire. Can he start a rebellion and overthrow the evil Lord Ruler?
This novel has a terrific magic system. People who can do magic are called Allomancers, they burn ingested metals for specific effects. The metals come in pairs, some affect your surroundings and others affect you. Most Allomancers can only burn one of these metals. The rare Mistborn can use all of them. This makes them incredibly powerful and tremendously valuable. Their identities are kept as family secrets. Allomancy is my favourite aspect of this book, it is an intricate and original magic system that I want to know more about.
Another excellent aspect of this novel is how developed the setting is. It is a world that has succumbed to darkness; ash is spewed from the mountain tops, covering the cities and staining them black. The sky is always an angry red. I loved reading about the world, Sanderson makes a blue and green world seem like a long lost fantasy. The cities are dirty and cramped, skaa slums are everywhere. The capital city of Luthadel felt so real to me and I was constantly adding to my mental map of the place.
Sanderson also created a brilliant cast of characters. The novel has a full complement of personalities, from the highborn idealist to dastardly thieves. The characters were constantly growing and developing, especially the protagonists Kelsier and Vin. This is always great to see, it becomes unrealistic if characters’ personalities remain static despite the things they have been through. His characters gave the novel a ‘heist’ feel, something that I love, and kept the novel fast paced.
The plot was constantly twisting and turning, it kept me on edge but I never felt left behind, always understanding what was happening. Its is a careful balance that Sanderson achieved with aplomb. The story was exciting and intriguing but I did feel that it was slightly too long with a few parts that seemed unnecessary to the overall plot.
I enjoyed this novel tremendously. I will definitely be continuing on with the Mistborn trilogy. I found it gripping and beautifully crafted, giving it 5/5 stars overall. You should read this book!