Justin Tadlock

Mistborn: The Final Empire

Cover of the Mistborn novel, featuring a girl, Vinn, in a cloak with two blades in her hands.

It’s Brandon Sanderson. Need I say anything else to convince you to read it?

Mistborn: The Final Empire is unlike your traditional fantasy. There are no dragons to slay. No elves and dwarves. No long, arduous journeys crossing continents. Most of the story takes place within one city and follows a band of thieves, not your most likely group of heroes.

Sanderson brings along a unique magic system and characters that feel as real as anyone you know in real life. You’ll grow with them as they take on a foolish quest that no one would dare go on.

Scadrial, the world this book takes place on, exists within The Cosmere, which is a universe that many of Sanderson’s works take place. Don’t worry; it’s okay to start here. The story isn’t tied to other novels. It’s just in the same universe.

This world has its own magic system called Allomancy, which is a nice break from old-school magic in traditional fantasy, where certain metals give powers to those who use them. What I liked most is that Sanderson didn’t just dump all of this info at once. He teaches you how the magic system works through story, never allowing you to forget the system. You won’t get lost later in the book trying to remember it.

The story takes place in the city of Luthadel in the Final Empire, in which the Lord Ruler has reigned for 1,000 years. He saved the world from some entity called The Darkness and has since shaped the world as everyone knows it. The world is a dark place. Ash falls upon everything. And few go out at night for fear of the mists and what lies within them. Plants are brown and fields worked by the slave class, the skaa. Most people can’t imagine a place where everything is lush and green.

The adventure closely follows a group of skaa thieves who have come together for the ultimate heist. Kelsier, the fearless and possibly a bit insane, leader brings in a new apprentice named Vinn. Vinn is broken, beaten, and serving off her brother’s debt. She hides herself away from the spotlight, hoping to remain unseen and unhurt. The real story is hers. Her journey from a scrawny girl into the woman that she’s meant to be is what the book is ultimately about.

In over 600 pages, Sanderson builds a complete universe through his story, one just as real as our own. There’s a lot to digest as he tackles politics, classism, and slavery. You’ll find yourself pulling for this band of thieves, especially Kelsier and Vinn, as they take on an impossible challenge.

When I began this book, I was fully prepared to give it a 4/5-star rating. It didn’t quite pull me in as much as Sanderson’s Skyward. However, this was an epic read. The story and characters needed time to develop. At a certain point, I was as invested in the journey as the characters themselves. And, that’s what great fiction writing is all about. You must feel what the characters feel and root for them.

Mistborn also gets credit for the book that finally made me turn off late-night TV and simply read for the pure enjoyment of reading.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 stars.

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