The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, published by Gollancz in the UK
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Brandon Sanderson is a master storyteller. His world building is extraordinary, his character development is astounding. There are not enough superlatives in the world for me to describe how good this series is. The first book in the series, The Final Empire, had been sitting in my tbr pile for a while but it was #mistbornmondays that gave me the push I needed to finally dive into this epic trilogy. Mistborn Mondays was created by Lucy Richardson over at The Book Belle on Youtube when she began hosting The Great Mistborn Readlong in preparation for Sanderson’s new release Shadows of Self, the fifth book in the Mistborn world that comes out later this month. I shouldn’t have waited so long.
These are long books, there is no getting round their size but don’t let that put you off, I flew through them. The story is so well paced and addictive that if anything, there aren’t enough pages. The Final Empire is a land ruled by an evil God, known as the Lord Ruler. He is an omnipotent force that praises the nobility and oppresses the common people, known as the skaa, and forces them to work the land. After a thousand years of oppression, the skaa are extremely downtrodden and live in a state of apathy. Ash falls from the sky all the time and mists cover the land every nightfall, plants are brown and there few animals still inhabiting the land. However, in Luthadel, the Empire’s capital, there is a small crew who have heard stories that the land once had green grass, flowers of every colour blossomed and the sky was blue. Led by the charismatic Kelsier, they want to overthrow the Lord Ruler and return the world to how it’s described in the legends. They dream of a better life for the skaa. They hate the nobility. And they have a Mistborn. This series follows their quest.
Vin is a small street urchin who has spent her life being beaten by her older brother and told she is worthless, useless and will always be betrayed. She is part of an underground skaa thieving crew that scam the nobility to get money. She is kept by the leader as a lucky charm as his scams seem to be more successful when she is around. Vin doesn’t understand why she has this ‘Luck’ inside her but she is too scared to go off on her own and so uses it to keep herself safer in the crew. That is until her leader forces her to use it on an Obligator, one of the Lord Ruler’s government officials, and he recognises her ability as Allomantic. If it wasn’t for the return of Kelsier, a man condemned to death by the God himself in the Pits of Hathsin who escaped, Vin would have been killed. He recognises her talents and recruits her to his crew and their quest to overthrow the Final Empire. I think her character development is incredible. She has to learn to trust others in order to accept her place in the world and fights against the voice in her head that tells her she is not worthy.
The magic system in this series is so interesting. It is called Allomancy and is the ability to swallow metals and then burn them to gain powers. It’s based upon the rule that every action has a consequence, so each metal has a pair; the pure metal and it’s alloy. It’s very clever. So there is an ability to Push on a metal which of course pushes the character away from it, and it’s paired metal allows them to Pull on metal to soar towards it. If the character burns tin, it enhances their mental senses, allowing them to see great distances and also to hear every scuffle and every conversation within a large radius. Burning pewter however, enhances physical attributes, so makes the character much stronger, more balanced and allows the character to heal quicker and prevents fatigue. The metals and their alloys have to be in their purest form and have to contain the correct percentages or else it makes the burner ill. It’s incredibly well done and comes with a convincing backstory. Not everyone has these abilities though, only a Mistborn can burn all the metals. There are Mistings, people who only have the ability to burn one metal and so become very adept at using their one power. It is a hereditary talent in the nobility, but of course through the use of mistresses many of the skaa have these abilities too. Naturally it’s far more complex than I can describe here, but I don’t want to spoil any of the story.
Sanderson’s writing is superb. This story is beautifully crafted and different plot lines, hints and legends all come together in amazing revelations, betrayals, and victories. He uses diary-esque entries at the start of every new chapter to capture your interest and make you believe you know who’s talking, and it always surprised me when I discovered who it really was. I do get heavily invested in books and feel a lot of emotions but this is the first series in a very long time that made me cry when I finished it. It’s that good. It didn’t end how I would have liked, but then that’s why it’s so good. Although you want a story that you’re invested in to end all happily and perfect, it’s not as enjoyable, or believable. I did think the ending was spectacular and it was right. I loved all of it. Believe all the hype, Brandon Sanderson is amazing. He has written so many books and I cannot wait to dive into his other works. I’ve already got a few of his stand alones so look out for my reviews of those. If you’ve been thinking about reading some fantasy please give this trilogy a go. It has all the depth and beauty of other epic fantasy stories but in three installments. A great way to start a love affair with fantasy books.