Book Review: The Final Empire

 
Mat Cauthon
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The Final Empire, Mistborn book 1. Author: Brandon Sanderson.



In this post, I will deal with only the first book, as each subsequent book's basic plot reveals spoilers for the previous.



Mistborn is a series in the fantasy genre.  The world has been under the dominion of "The Lord Ruler" for a millenia, every rebellion has failed...

But Hope survives.

A new rebellion is rising, relying not on force of arms, but the cunning of a criminal.




The World

 
Spoiler
The Lord Ruler, Immortal God King of Mankind, Hero of Ages. Defeated the thing known only as "The Deepness" and gained his divinity with which he remade the world.

Now, ash falls from the sky at a constant rate, people live in oppression under powerful nobles, crops and plants grow only as brown husks and the night sky is forever concealed by an enigmatic mist. Within which, lurk stange beings called "Mist Wraiths".

The Skaa people live in fear, each day could be their last. The caste of Nobles hold them lower than beasts and will slaughter a family for trivial matters. And at night the Mists decsend and lie as a blanket over the land. Hiding monsters from view.
 
The Nobles that live in splendour have an iron grip upon the Skaa with the power of "Allomancy". The magic of metal alloys. Their ancestors being granted this power for supporting the Lord Ruler on his quest to save makind one thousand years before the beginning of the series.

The Steel Ministry, Church of the Lord Ruler, administered by the "Obligators" watch over and record everything. From business deals, and marriages, to oaths between friends and duels between enemies.

And above even the Ministry's Obligators, are the Steel Inquisitors. Strange tall beings with spikes for eyes that work directly under the Lord Ruler.

The world under the Lord Ruler is divided into "Dominances" with the Capital City, Luthadel, in the middle of the world.




Allomancy

Spoiler
Allomancy is the power of Alloys, an Allomancer can access these abilities by ingesting an amount of a particular metal and "Burning" it inside themselves to release its energy.
Only the Upperclass have the ability to use Allomancy, but inbreeding with Skaa has enabled many of them to also gain the powers of Allomancy.
There are ten allomantic metals.

Iron - "Pulls" on nearby metals.
Steel - "Push" on nearby metals
Tin - Enhances senses.
Pewter - Enhances physical abilities.
Brass - Soothes emotions.
Zinc - Causes emotions to flare.
Bronze - Reveals the use of allomancy.
Copper - Conceals the use of allomancy.
Gold - Reveals one of the possible futures of the user.

Many nobles and half breed Skaa have only one allomantic power. These people are called "Mistings".

A Misting with Iron is called a Lurcher and can "pull" metal. An ability used to counter Coinshots, who use Steel to fire bits of metal at their targets.

A Tineye utilises Tin to improve their senses, mainly for sight and sound.

A Pewterarm or Thug, is as the second name implies. They are usually the fighters and muscle of any Noble family.

Brass and Zinc, are Soothers and Rioters respectively.
A Soother can calm a persons emotions and make them more susceptable to suggestion and a Rioter can cause a person to react impulsively.

A Seeker, or person using Bronze can sense the use of allomancy.
Whereas a Smoker, or person using Copper can hide allomantic presence in a small area around themselves.

In addition to these Mistings, there is a small fraction of those who can use all the powers of Allomancy.

Mistborn.

Mistborn are a commodity to Noble families, being able to use all alloys enables them to be incredibly effective assassins.

They also have a trump over other Mistings.
Another metal.

Atium.

A metal that allows a Mistborn to see a few seconds into the future and process these thoughts in real time. A Mistborn using this metal is almost invincible.



Characters

Spoiler

The Lord Ruler
- The God of mankind, he defeated the "Deepness", saved the world, then dominated it.

Kelsier - The charismatic Criminal Mastermind who once attempted to break into the Lord Ruler's palace. The only surivor of "The Pits of Hathsin", a mine where people are sent to work until they die. Kelsier somehow gained the power of Allomancy at the Pits and now uses it to inspire hope amoung the Skaa. His allomantic power is that of a Mistborn.
Kelsier is contracted by the current rebels to help bring down the Final Empire. And uses this opportunity to further his own goal of finding a way to kill the King of Men.
He leads his Crew, a group of talented Skaa thieves as they work to disrupt the Empire and play a dangerous game where the stakes are lives of thousands.

Vin - Previously a lowly urchin doing anything to stay alive, Vin is discovered by Kelsier to have Allomancy. She is discovered to also be a Mistborn and Kelsier takes her under his tutulage as an asset in their operations.

Dockson - Kelsier's closest friend and trueborn Skaa, Dockson's place on the crew is that of administrator, where he deals in the running and ledgers of the group.

Hammond - Ham, as he's nicknamed is a halfbreed Skaa with the power of Pewter. A soldier who like philosphical discussion, he often annoys Breeze with questions usually related to the Metaphysical.

Breeze - Like most of the Crew, he is also a half breed. Breeze has the power of Brass and uses it exclusively to get what he wants. Mainly wine.

Clubs - With the power of Copper, Clubs keeps the goings on of the Crew under wrap and provides a base of operations for the others. Previously an officer in the army, he in an excellent general.

Sazed - A Terrisman steward, Sazed's people are bred to be the best servants in the Empire.
Sazed however, is of a small sect of Terrismen called "Keepers" who record and store knowledge. And with his status, he knows the details of Noble life.

Marsh - Kelsier's brother and previous leader of the rebellion, Marsh loved a woman who chose his brother over him and became disillusioned with his cause, quitting the rebellion.
Marsh is a Seeker, with the power of Bronze.

Yeden - The current leader of the Skaa rebels and the man that made the contract with Kelsier. He is an unlikely source of leadership for the rebellion, but has kept it together in the wake of Marsh's departure.

Renoux - Renoux is a nobleman that has a deal with Kelsier. In a plot to infiltrate noble society. Members of the crew however, call him a 'Kandra'.

Lestibournes -  Nephew to Clubs, Lestibournes or "Spook" is a Tineye and a works as a lookout and spy for the crew.



My Thoughts

Spoiler
The vocabulary of the book is simple, but well put together.
Coming off the works of David Eddings, it almost felt refreshing, but at the same time a bit odd. Because of the lack of the over embellishment that usually features in fantasy.

The subject matter, while not "Mature" in the sense of sex and violence. (A few gory bits here and there, nothing over the top.) Is still complicated with lots of little threads runnning throughout the book alongside social issues and a character with a major problem when dealing with others, as an example. While not for young audiences, being a living dictionary isn't required either. And that just makes it more accesible to those who, maybe don't have a lot of time on their hands when they want to read.

The author also seems to like cliffhangers and while a lot of them are done well, a few are placed seemingly just to cause frustration.
There are some slow points to the book, when I felt like I wanted to skip a chapter so I could see what the reaction was to the events of a previous chapter.

The focus of the book is a heist by the Crew, to steal the wealth of the Lord Ruler and undermine the economy so that the rebellion can march into the captial while the nobles are at each other's throats and the soldiers are unmotivated.
When the Crew is assembled and the get down to business, the book feels like a heist movie in the likes of Oceans 11 or The Italian Job. Turning it into a fun read as well as holding on to the serious tone.


Final Verdict
Spoiler
While I'm not an unbiased person, I'll try to give this a rating.

The book was incredibly enjoyable, with some very memorable scenes and characters.
The length of the book (roughly 600 pages) was great, not too long, not too short.
The language was easy to read, but at the same time unusual for fantasy and occasionally (to someone who loves Tolkien) a bit over simplified
The plot made the book hard to let go of. (At one point my fingers were blackend from ink, by turning pages)
The world was detailed, but certain things and details being left out left me confused once or twice.

With all that in mind...

I'll give this book a 8/10.
I would give it a 7, but I feel personally, as the one giving the review, the pros outweigh the cons massively.

I would urge any fans of reading, fantasy fans or not, to pick this book up and give it a chance.

Spoiler
If I have typo'd something, or there's something you don't understand that I might've forgotten to mention, say so in a comment and I'll try my best to rectify it.
Thanks for reading this far.

I might do something like this again, but I'll admit it was Yutaka's review that got me fired up enough to do this one.


 
Mat Cauthon
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Spoiler
Whelp...

YouTube


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Noice, make sure to link it to the pinned thread for Cheat.
Last Edit: September 18, 2014, 09:50:49 AM by Yutaka


 
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Mat Cauthon
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Someone else that likes the Mistborn series?!? It's one of my favorites.

Fantastically done review by the way.
Thanks a lot. I'm quite sick right now, so I was worried that I'm not up to scratch.
I just had to do this before I ran out of steam.
Have you read the fourth book?
Spoiler
You probably noticed this guy by now http://sep7agon.net/index.php?action=profile;u=58
Last Edit: September 18, 2014, 10:16:00 AM by Byrne


 
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<.<
Sounds good <.<

More ammunition to feed my reading addiction >.>


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Someone else that likes the Mistborn series?!? It's one of my favorites.

Fantastically done review by the way.
Thanks a lot. I'm quite sick right now, so I was worried that I'm not up to scratch.
I just had to do this before I ran out of steam.
Have you read the fourth book?
Spoiler
You probably noticed this guy by now http://sep7agon.net/index.php?action=profile;u=58

ayy lmao


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Good review by the way.


 
Mat Cauthon
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Thanks!