The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #1)

The Final Empire

The Final Empire
by Brandon Sanderson

Epic Fantasy

643 Pages

Book #1 Mistborn Series

Published by Tor Books (17th July 2006)

Purchase from | Booktopia* | Fishpond AU* | Book Depository* | Dymocks | QBD | | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon UK |

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

In a world where ash has fallen from the sky for a thousand years; where no flowers bloomed, and the Lord Ruler reigned invincible, the Skaa slaved away under the elite. Seen as nothing more than fodder for the fields or petty wars. Until one such Skaa, beaten down and broken, slaving away in the mines of the Lord Ruler ‘snapped’ and a well of power deep within himself; a Mistborn. Since that day, Kelsier has worked tirelessly with others in underground societies to bring about a war that will change the fate of the world and all of those in it. While there are many who back the insane plan, the chance of it coming to fruition is slim, until a young girl by the name of Vin stumbles into Kelsier’s path. Vin needs to learn how to trust Kelsier and those around him if she wishes to learn how to control the powers inside of her, but trust doesn’t come easy for one who has lived the life that she has. Can a ragtag group of highly motivated misfits pull together and pull of the biggest plan in the history of the Skaa? Or will they all die trying?

I’ve been sitting on writing this review for months now. I couldn’t even begin to tell you why. I was recommended this book by a bookish friend after her and her partner were reading it together. I’m not a huge fan of epic fantasies as I find that they can be quite overwhelming and so full of information, it can take a while to wrap my head around everything. Though once I can really get into one and understand the world, the class and magic systems, I find that epic fantasies can be so rewarding with their in depth stories, ones that you’ve likely never read anything quite like it. So I bought the book on a whim and recommendation. It did take me a little bit to get through it as it’s not a short book by any means, and there is a lot happening. But I can definitely say, it was worth the read, and I look forward to continuing the series.

Sanderson’s world building in this story is so unlike any others that I have read. Yes you have the classism – the Skaa who are the slave race, and the elite, high society, rich, big wigs at the top who care for naught but their own monetary gains and lives of comfort. The world is a barren place where there is no longer greenery, and ash falls from the sky to blanket everything in a depressing layer that needs to be swept away regularly, lest it bury everything. The world is bleak, and Sanderson does a fantastic job of setting this up and really getting the reader to feel it. I felt the oppression of the Skaa, especially in the start of this story as we first meet one of our main characters on a slave plantation. We see the squalor they live in when they’re not bent over double weeding the fields. We see the entitlement of the owner of said plantation when a girl is taken away for him to have his ways with her, and if it’s like all the others, she won’t return. We can feel the desperation for change in these fleeting characters that we meet and see the beacon of hope in Kelsier – the survivor – as he plants the seed of hope and uprising.

I also felt the isolation and abandonment of Vin. A girl on the cusp of womanhood, one who fears each night that she will no longer serve a purpose, and surprised that she has not yet fallen to rape and murder amongst the thieving crew she is a part of. She only lives as long as she’s useful. She uses her ‘luck’ as she calls it, to help sway things in the crew’s favour when needed, and I believe it’s the only reason why she still breathes when we meet her. While her character could be quite flat at times, Sanderson did a great job of making the reader feel what she felt.

One thing I absolutely loved about this story is the way that the author wrote the villains. Not only did we have the Lord Ruler, who is rarely seen outside of his castle walls, except for a figure seated in a carriage at executions. Sanderson was able to write such an overbearing, overwhelming figure head of hopelessness without us really laying eyes on the character which I think is a stroke of brilliance. The breathlessness, hopelessness and oppressive nature of this character was so well written, that in scenes that they were present, I felt it. I felt what our hero characters were feeling, and I think that this really shows how adept Sanderson is at his craft. Also the Steel Inquisitors, my god! They were terrifying. Not just visually, which, let me tell you was beyond terrifying, but that it is virtually impossible to kill them. How does one go up against something that has no visible weakness? When there is no knowledge of HOW to kill them? Writing characters that can make a reader feel utterly hopeless and as though this is the one thing the hero cannot defeat is no easy task, and Sanderson did such a brilliant job.

The magic system in this story is so unique. I’ve never read anything even remotely like it before and I loved learning all about it along with Vin. Getting to read about her trials while learning to harness this power inside of her that she had no idea about prior, was wonderful and not at all tedious. I found that this was a brilliant way to trickle down information to the reader with out it being an info dump.

The story itself was so wonderfully thought out and you never knew what was going to happen next. There were several times when the cause our heroes were chasing seemed utterly impossible, and I love that. I love when things don’t go to plan, when the heroes really have to work for what they’re trying to achieve. It’s never an enjoyable read when everything comes so easy to the protagonist and you just know that there is no way they’ll lost. Having that unpredictability and layer of reality in fantasy is super important, at least to me.

There was so much in this book. It’s a lot, but in all honestly, I don’t believe that any of it could have been cut because it would have taken away from the story. There is that much that I cannot possibly talk about all of it. There was a lot of political stuff that happened in this story as well, but I don’t want to talk about it because I believe it’s better experienced as it happens. At times the story dragged a little, but it never became boring. All in all, this was a fantastic first book in what promises to be an epic series, though you could stop with this book if you wanted. The story is resolved at the end, but the ending is left open for things to continue if you decide you want to. If you love epic fantasies, with strong characters, an original magic system and in depth world building; a story where the characters are fighting for their lives and their freedom every step of the way while they are pushed down again and again by the powers that be, yet never give up; give this one a go. I promise it’ll drag you in.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. This is a great series. Glad that you’re enjoying the beginning!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jess Smith says:

      It was such a wonderful series opener. I’m keen to continue the series for sure! My friend did say that she didn’t enjoy book two as much, but book three was amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was so into, I liked every book. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jess Smith says:

        I’ll definitely have to continue the series then!

        Liked by 1 person

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