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Book Review - The Final Empire

 Friday, 14 January 2011

I've got a little bit behind on reviews (mostly because I've read like 5 books in a week so it's my own fault really) so the next week will have several reviews going up. Starting with this one.

Title: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Date: 10/1/2011 PM
Source: Gift
Description: For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the Sliver of Infinity, reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Rulers most hellish prison. Kelsier snapped and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark. Kel's plan looks like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she's a half-Skaa orphan, but she's lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed. (Description taken from Goodreads)


My Review
I'd been hearing about this trilogy for a while when I asked for it for Christmas, I'd heard only good things and as far as Epic Fantasy series go - this is one of the great ones. 600+ pages has never seemed so short. I almost read this in one sitting - only the fact that I was utterly shattered and my eyes were sore as hell stopped me from reading it straight through the night.


The premise of the series is a complete 180 on the usual Epic Fantasy story - in the Mistborn trilogy the Hero who was Foretold *didn't* succeed and the Dark Lord actually won and took control of a vast continent, ruling for 1000 years and slowly suppressing the Skaa (peasant) population until all rebellion, all thought of freedom, hope and individuality had been crushed out of them. The Lord Ruler has moulded what was once a vast collection of separate nations each with their own unique religion and culture into one unified and Final Empire.


Along with a fantastic idea comes an even more brilliant magic system. Sanderson has created a system called Allomancy where the Mistborn (those gifted with these powers) swallow and "burn" certain metals each producing a different power that can affect either the internal or external world. There are 8 basic metals and 2 Higher metals and only the Mistborns (whom are very rare) can burn all the metals. There are Mistings who can burn just one metal although those are still fairly uncommon. I loved how complex and well-though out the Allomancy was and what's even greater is that we don't fully know about all aspects of the magic by the end of this book and we have no idea how or when it appeared so I'm really looking forward to learning more in the later books.


Now to actually talk about the characters! I will say that apart from the 2 main characters and 2 or 3 of the secondary characters most of the characterisation was limited although on the whole that didn't really affect the story's quality. Kelsier is the first character we meet and he is glaringly different to the impression of the Skaa that we get within the first chapter or two. He's bold, intelligent and bizarrely cheerful for a man who really should be dead. Throughout the book he keeps surprising us with his mad schemes and more vulnerable sides so we almost can never predict what he is planning to do next. 


Vin is the young Skaa girl who trusts no one, expects betrayal at every turn and is completely taken aback when Kelsier strides into her life and tells her that she is a Mistborn. I really understood her wariness to entrust her safety to a group of thieves when her whole life has been blighted by the people who should love her the most, betraying her trust. As she starts to learn to control her Mistborn skills she becomes pretty bad-ass - I mean it is damn cool to be able to jump from building to building without ever touching down whilst wearing an uber-floaty ribbony cloak. It's a really great, vivid image like a wraith drifting silently through the mists.


I found the story fascinating and I loved finding out little titbits about what the world used to be like before the Ascension of the Lord Ruler. Although we don't find out in this first book what happened to cause the Ashmounts (that's volcanoes in common parlance :P) to erupt and cover the continent in ash for centuries, I'm hopeful that more about the history of the world will be revealed when I read the next book. The Mistborn battles were amazing, you really got a impression of all the metal flying about the combatants- if anyone was brave enough to make this trilogy into a series of films then those scenes would the most epic to watch.


Overall I have very little, if anything to complain about. I loved the premise, the magic system, the characters were fab, the main plotline for this book was resolved nicely although I'm still anxious to know more about the world and I have a feeling that something big is coming in the second book Well of Ascension. If big Epic Fantasy novels are your bag then this is a must-read, even if they're not I say it's still worth picking this up because you might be pleasantly surprised at how fast those pages fly by!


My Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5


Eek that rambled on a bit - apologies I shall try and cut down the waffle on my next review which hopefully will be up tomorrow so keep and eye out for that!


Anyways ta-ra for now!
LadyV  



4 comments:

Braiden 14 January 2011 at 10:34  

I own The Stormlight Archive #1: Way of Kings...his new series, and I am so scared to begin it because of its enormity.

Jessheartsbooks 14 January 2011 at 12:10  

Oooh I hadn't heard of this series before but your review makes it sound really great. Might have to check it out! Thanks for the review hun :)

Liz Tea 14 January 2011 at 16:11  

I've actually never heard of these before, but I'm really interested now. I love a good epic fantasy - the longer the better! 600 pages sounds about right for me. ;D

Katie 16 January 2011 at 17:04  

I love the cover for this, it's so pretty!

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