Most helpful positive review
97 of 102 people found the following review helpful
Great story within a great world by a great author. Incomplete, however.
on February 8, 2012
I have read most of Brandon Sanderson's novels, including his Wheel Of Time additions. I am a big fan of his, and the genre in general, and read almost excessively. After having read the original Mistborn trilogy, I was very excited to hear this one announced. I only recently got to this book on my list, and having completed it in a single day I come away with mixed feelings.
Pros: It is a Sanderson book, and he seems to be turning into quite the masterful fantasy storyteller. He manages to come up with great new magic systems for each of his books, while also developing excellent characters and believable worlds. He manages to make you care about what is happening. This book is no exception. The characters read as real people, with distinct personalities, habits and mannerisms that charm or annoy you, weaknesses and strengths you can appreciate, et cetera. He manages to make you love or hate characters wthout making them absolutely good or evil. Specific to this book, you find that even the worst beings within have a sense of humanity about them. There is a sense of what makes them tick. Even if you despise the character, they feel human and you can understand their motives. Brandon Sanderson manages to avoid the typical pure evil "no knowing his mind" character for an antagonists. Likewise, the protagonists are never flawless knights in shining armor. They aren't titans who never show weakness of fault. They are people who are trying to do good or to achieve high goals, but do not always make it. This book advances an excellent story that began in the trilogy. I would not recommend this unless you have read the Mitborn trilogy, and I will not get into explaining the world. This book advances the world to an era similar to our late Victorian period. It sort of has a steampunk feel, but not entirely. There is a certain sense of wonder at impossible new technologies and machines that comes with that steampunk edge. That is mixed in with a bit of the western feel, but it is not a western. Toss these excellent characteristics into the mistborn world and it is an excellent mix. A wonderfully fresh and well designed magic system, a world with many religions rooted in stories you'll remember from the trilogy, excellent characters, and the sense of excitement, wonder, and adventure from the steampunk and western influences. It also takes on a slight Holmesian feel, with the main character being more than just a gunslinger or wizard or warrior. All in all, it mixes many of my favorite things and manages to keep them all clean and interesting. Overall, a very good read that was an easy single sitting book because I never grew weary of what I was reading.
CONS: It feels more like a very long "short" story than a full novel. This is not a bad thing alone, but it comes out incomplete. The ending feels like the ending of the first act of a play, not the ending of a novel. Mr. Sanderson spends an entire book developing these excellent characters with real relationships within an exciting world just exploding into the modern era, surrounded by amazing mythology and history rolled into religions based on the near flawless trilogy. It feels like such a great introduction into a new world of discovery, and right when you start to really dive in he pulls the plug and yells "You don't have to go home but you can't stay here!!" It's a massive let down. The worst part is that everything is so good, so well done, that I was loving every sentence, right up until I hit the back cover. Instead of putting it down early out of boredom, or finishing a 300 page book satisfied with a story well told, I turned the page wondering where the next chapter had disappeared to. It appears that this is a stand-alone novel, so we won't find out what happens to these excellent characters or how the different schemes turned out, where the world goes, anything, and that is frustrating when you realize that he has woven a world and a character set that you really loved and want to read more of.
My first book "review" so I'm sure it was hard to follow, but overall: Great story, great author, and a worthy read, but incomplete and disappointing because of this. Brandon has been pumping out material at an incredible pace, and the quality of the material has been outstanding, but I think this book was pushed out before completion and for a work of such great potential this is particularly disappointing.