Series: Mistborn #1
Years ago a young man set out on a quest to save the land from darkness. He rose in power as the Lord Ruler, but his world became one of darkness and ash. Now the skaa work as slaves under the nobles, who alone possess the genes that can impart the magical skills of Allomancy. Kelsier, a skaa thief escaped from a life of labor, dares to challenge the might of the Lord Ruler. He, after all, as a result of his mixed heritage, possesses all the skills of a Mistborn. But, if his plan is to succeed, he will also need the help of an unlikely ally–a young street urchin who does not yet know the power she wields.
Briana has been pressing me to read Sanderson’s work for a long time (You can check out Briana’s review of Mistborn here.) and, now that I have, I am sorry I waited so long. From the opening pages the characters, the plot, and the world grabbed me, promising a rare fantasy adventure–the kind that makes you wish you could live in that world.
Mistborn seems to rely on the old standbys of fantasy, from its thieving protagonists to its tyrannical ruler whose dark reign must end. Sanderson, however, vividly reworks these tropes, making his characters come alive and his plot seem distinct. Each character possesses a background to give depth and motivation, so that even a girl like Vin, who grew up on the streets and believes everyone a possible threat, seems real and nuanced, rather than a type. And the Lord Ruler is no ordinary Dark Lord with a magical amulet that must be broken. Instead, he is a god, an apparent immortal who controls the bloodlines and the economy of his realm to maintain power. To defeat him, Kelsier and his band will have to do more than kill him. They will have to stage a successful rebellion focused on crippling the economy, infiltrating the nobility, and immobilizing the army .
It can be rare to find a fantasy that goes beyond the buildup to a great battle or war and instead focuses on issues of supplying troops and gathering intelligence, so immediately Mistborn presents itself as more thoughtful read. This is not simply a question of overthrowing an undeniable evil. Lives and the political stability of an empire are at stake, and Kelsier and his crew must ask themselves if the costs will be worth the reward.
Sanderson’s world is rich in detailed politics, economics, and geography, but it goes beyond that to present a system of magic where all the rules are laid clear. Some may find the extended fight scenes or the lengthy explanations tiresome, but I revelled in the information; Sanderson has evidently thought through this to make it as realistic as possible. Want to know why an Allomancer can push or pull metal but not the metal in one’s body? That’s covered. Wondering how Allomancers can distinguish a “pushing” or a “pulling” metal. That’s explained, too. Finding gaps in the logic is unusually difficult.
Aside from not enjoying the prose very much and feeling that the romance lacked believability and spark, I find that the only problem I have with this book is that it ends. I am eager to rejoin Vin and her friends as soon as possible and to follow the political intrigue once more.