I heard about Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, because it was on a list of recommended all-time great fantasy adventures. Then I went to the library and found it on the shelf, which is unusual in my experience. Usually the book I am looking for is not there. So I end up settling for a different book by the same author. But in this case, Mistborn was there. I took it as a sign that I should read it.
A Little Spoiler
Mistborn is a great fantasy adventure. Vin, an insignificant thief at the start of the story, learns that she is actually an exceptionally talented allomancer. Allomancy is the art of burning flakes of metals in your body that you consume to give you powerful abilities. The story takes us along as Vin is coached by Kelsier, a charismatic leader and more powerful allomancer, who also has plans for ridding the the world of the Lord Ruler, a godlike despot. As we follow Vin’s successes and failures, we learn about more about allomancy, and we see Kelsier’s plan unfold, unravel, and ….. well, I won’t say anymore.
While allomancy is not exactly a magic system, it serves the same purpose. It is something ordinary people cannot use. The worst of the bad guys use it to keep humanity enslaved. The best of the good guys use it to fight the bad guys. It is a well thought -out and detailed system. It is also fresh and fun. I have never come across such a system in a fantasy story before. Kudos to the author.
I also liked the setting. The world of the Final Empire is dark. Ash falls from the sky and mists swirl at night, keeping most people indoors. There is an aristocratic class that dresses up and attends fabulous balls to dance and gossip. But most of humanity is enslaved by a Lord Ruler that ruthlessly crushes any resistance with his army of Obligators and Inquisitors. These common people are known as skaa. During the day they labor away under horrible conditions. At night they huddle together in cold hovels. There is little room for hope..
The only problem for me with Mistborn is that it is too long. At 657 pages in the paperback version, I was a bit put off. There was a lot to learn about the world of the Final Kingdom, about the good guy characters and their plan to beat the Lord Ruler, about allomancy. But for me it just took too long to get there. I really wasn’t pulled into the story until the last 150 pages. From that point I did not want to put the the book down.
I do not consider Mistborn to be one of my classics. I would read it again, although I would prefer to read the next installment in the series. For this reason I give Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson a 4 out of 5 rating.