Fantastic characters, an intriguing magic system and a plot that that will leave your heart racing, The Final Empire is easily one of the best books I have read this year.
Title: The Final Empire (Mistborn 1)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
The Lord Ruler has dominated the Final Empire for a thousand years, forcing the Skaa into slavery and destroying all those who oppose him. Hope comes in the form of a mastermind criminal, a street urchin and a crew of thieves. Together, they plan the job of a millennium – to overthrow the invincible ruler.
This is a book that gripped me from start to finish. I had to read it in bits due to the length of the book and the fact I was at work and then travelling with friends, but every time I picked it up, I was instantly drawn back into the world that Brandon Sanderson had created, joining the characters on their mission and desperate to find out what had happened. The pacing is fantastic and the writing is spot on. Sanderson was able to explain the rules of this universe’s magic system without it interfering too much into the plot. The plot is not completely unique in the overall premise, but there are elements and twists that do take it away from the conventional fantasy novel. While it is also a the first book in a trilogy, The Final Empire does work fantastically well as a stand-alone, although, by the end, there is no way you won’t want to continue the series.
The two main characters of this book were not easy to like at first, but by the end I was in love with both of them. Kelsier is a Mistborn, someone who can use all the allomantic metals. He is the leader of the crew that seek to start the uprising against the tyrannical ruler, but still manages to maintain a sense of humour and fun throughout the whole ordeal, whilst also having inner depths that really make you like him as a person. Vin, the other protagonist, is a street urchin plucked up by Kelsier and his crew. She discovers she has hidden talents and must learn to use them before the final battle. Vin is a nervous, untrusting girl but is also both stubborn and curious. She acts as a counterpoint of Kelsier and the dichotomy and interactions between the two are delightful.
That being said, they are not the only characters of the book. Sanderson surrounds them with a variety of colourful characters, each with their own talent and personality that you cannot help but start to feel like you know them. The villains of the tale could have had a bit more depth and history attached to them, but really I think this is a book about the ragtag team of heroes and, more importantly, friends and they are what really make The Final Empire the book that it is.
I have read a few of Sanderson’s books but this series contains probably one of the most complex magic systems of those books and, probably, that I have come across. However, the world itself is not as clearly defined as I would have liked. While the book itself is called The Final Empire, the story only really takes place in one city and it is only this city that is described in much detail. Yet, still, it is hard to picture. You get a good idea of the nobility and the skaa (the pheasants) and their differences as well as a fantastic insight into the magic system, but, if not for the map at the front of the book, I would have been completely lost with what the city was actually like and you do not really get much of a feel for the atmosphere of the city. I hope in the next book, there will be more exploration of the world that this book is set in as it definitely sets itself up to be a good one, but I was slightly disappointed in how little we got to see in The Final Empire.
I loved this book. It has become one of my favourites, of both Brandon Sanderson’s works and books in general. It has fantastic characters, an intriguing magic system and a plot that that will leave your heart racing. I am desperately looking forward to reading The Well of Ascension, book two of the trilogy. This is certainly a book that lives up to the hype.