Review: Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Paperback: 672 pages
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Mistborn #1
Once, a hero rose to save the world. He failed.

For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by the immortal emperor known as the Lord Ruler. Every revolt has failed miserably.

Yet somehow, hope survives. Hope that dares to dream of ending the empire and defeating the Lord Ruler. A new kind of uprising is being planned—one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the determination of an unlikely heroine: a teenage street urchin named Vin.

Once, a hero rose to save the world and failed. This time, can a young heroine succeed?

If you've read other positive reviews of Mistborn, what I am going to say is probably no different. But for what it's worth this is coming from someone who is not a fantasy reader--I've read maybe two other epic fantasy this year. I enjoy and have enjoyed epic fantasy novels in the past but my genre of choice is contemporary and I am more likely to reach for contemporary more than anything else.

But I freakin' I love this book. I'm giving it
I knew early on I was going to like Mistborn.

It took me a little over two weeks to read Mistborn, which is unusual for me because I can typical read a book in 2-3 days. Mistborn is a chunker at 672 pages but I had ample reading time. I could've finished it in half the time it took me, but it's not the kind of novel you fly through and then forget about. Mistborn is the kind of book you have to take your time reading because there was so much (really good) stuff to savor and immerse yourself in.

I am not going to attempt to summarize the plot. Other reviewers and bloggers already have and they have done way a better job than I ever could. I went into Mistborn without really knowing much about the plot--I know the basic premise of course from reading the publisher's summary but that is it. I think the less you know, the better your reading experience will be. You just have to go in and experience the world of Mistborn yourself.

The writing was fantastic. This was my first book by Brandon Sanderson and, holy cow, can the man write! The writing was very engaging and readable, easy to absorb and follow. I have tried to read other epic fantasy novels years and years ago and I was very turned off by the writing and the unpronounceable names, but Sanderson is a master storyteller (also, no problems with weird names here!). He also weaved a complex, multi-layered plot but you are always there with him. There were so many twists and turns and unexpectedness. And, O.M.G., at the end of chapter 34 I was like this
I couldn't believed the author did that. He's not afraid to take risks with his characters and I am even more excited for what's in store for the rest of the series.

The main magic system called Allomancy Sanderson created was fascinating and unique. It is based on metals and alloys. There were eight basic metals and when a Misting (a person who can only burn one specific metal) or a Mistborn (a person who can burn all the metals) ingest them, they are able to have special powers or able to enhance their abilities. It was very well thought out and it was so interesting learning about it along with our main character Vin. Then, we got introduced to another magic called Feruchemy, which is similar to Allomancy but it had it's own rules. But all of the rules of the magic, the way it was presented, was all very easy to grasp--this does not always happen when it comes to magic systems in other fantasy novels I've read. So, bravo Mr. Sanderson for creating a complex, yet understandable magic systems.

As for characters, all of them (even the minor ones) were so fleshed out. They all served a purpose in moving the story forward. I loved the relationship among the crew members, the group of thieves who were plotting to overthrow the Lord Ruler. I really enjoyed the Ocean's Eleven thing they had going on where each of the member had an expertise and each person brings a unique ability to the team. It was wonderful watching Vin become so much more than what she started as, from a street urchin who hid in dark corners into owning her power and becoming a strong, intelligent woman who thought for herself. Kelsier, who was the leader of the thieving crew and the other main character besides Vin, was my favorite. He was one of the "good guys," wise and strong but he was also so flawed, he made mistakes and bad decisions, he was arrogant and self-important at times... he was one of the most interesting characters I've read about in a long time. He was just so fun to read about.  The dynamics, relationships and friendships that developed between Vin, Kelsier, the crew and the other characters were so well done.

The world building in Mistborn is one of the best I've ever read. It was so easy to visualize the world. Everything was fully realized and there was no lengthy info dumping. We learn about the world so seamlessly, bit at a time throughout the story--even when I was at the last chapter I was learning something about the world. A big part of the story was the politics. The Lord Ruler controls the entire land but beneath him were the noble houses, and they were the ones who control the skaa. Through Vin, who was sent to spy on the nobility, we get some court intrigue and the politics among the noble class.

Warning: I'm going to keep things vague but there will be some spoilers in the next paragraph.

I had no true problems with Mistborn, but I guess if I was being nitpicky I thought the whole "I'm in love with him" bit (yes, there was a bit of a romance) came prematurely. I was not convinced that Vin was in love or loved the guy (I'm not going to say who--just read the book!). I believed that they have a friendship, she cared for him, and she liked him a lot, yes, but not love. At least not right then. They only talked a few times, I don't think that's enough time for romantic love to grow. 

Another minor nitpicky thing was that character becoming the king in the end. That left me scratching my head? I thought that came out of nowhere. Sure, he had some progressive/liberal ideas when it came to the skaa that went against the grain and he read books about it, but king? Of course, the others in the crew will probably be there with him behind the scenes but he hadn't really proven himself enough, I think, to be named king. Did they have to name a king? If you've already read Mistborn, what did you think of that whole king thing?

End of spoilers.

Like I said it took me about two weeks to read Mistborn. I'd read a few chapters a day--it kind of became my afternoon treat after work, you know, something to look forward to at the end of the day. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about reading it. When I was reading it, I was consumed by the story and the world. I was actually sad that I was done because my journey with Vin, Kelsier, Sazed and the other characters I've grown to care about was over and I didn't have book two on hand. 

This was meant to be a short review but I have gone on and on. There are so many more gush-y things that I can say about this book. Mistborn was just an extremely readable, well-written novel with fantastic, interesting characters and a well-developed, fascinating world. I am so glad that the publisher is re-doing the covers for a more YA appeal. That means more readers will pick up this book and the rest of the series and experience a truly brilliant epic fantasy story. There really is something in this novel for everyone--action, adventure, mystery, magic, politics, romance, heist mission, friendships, world-building... I highly recommend you pick up Mistborn even if you're not a big fantasy reader like myself. If you are a fantasy reader then Mistborn is a must-read for you.


  1. Oh, someone else recommended this to us, and after reading your review, we are now wholly convinced! Sounds REALLY fascinating and well-written. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Wow that is high praise to say it was your new HP. I must read this now, which should be easy since I have the book waiting for me.
    Great review!

  3. yes, it's amazing! i hope you all read it. :)

  4. it's been so looong since i've been captivated by a book so quickly and left me with a book hung over for days!


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