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Mistborn: The Final Empire (Book No. 1) Mass Market Paperback – July 31, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Sanderson's eerie second fantasy (after 2005's Elantris), set in a mist-haunted, ash-ridden world, pits Kelsier, "the Survivor of Hathsin," against the immortal Lord Ruler's 1,000-year domination of both the Great Houses and their serflike "skaa." Through Allomancy acquired in the Ruler's most hellish prison, Kelsier can "burn" 10 metals internally, fueling superhuman powers he uses to assemble rebels in a loose plan to destroy the nobility, the empire and the Lord Ruler himself. Kelsier uses Vin, a street urchin with the same Mistborn powers Kelsier possesses, to infiltrate the Great Houses' society, where she falls in love with philosopher prince Elend Venture. This mystico-metallurgical fantasy combines Vin's coming-of-age-in-magic and its well-worn theme of revolt against oppression with copious mutilations, a large-scale cast of thieves, cutthroats, conniving nobles and exotic mutants. The fast-paced action scenes temper Vin's interminable ballroom intrigues, while the characters, though not profoundly drawn, have a raw stereotypic appeal. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
The Sliver of Infinity, the Lord Ruler, is the locus of religious and temporal order in a world in which the skaa are slaves or worse. Half-skaa erstwhile thief Kelsior is the only person to survive and escape the Lord Ruler's most brutal prison, in which, however, he discovered he has the powers of the Mistborn, which are based on the internal "burning" of certain metals, all of which the Mistborn can use, while most others can burn only one. Now Kelsior plans his most daring raid ever, into the center of the palace to discover the secret of the Lord Ruler's power. Beforehand, his band finds the half-skaa orphan Vin in another thieving crew, where she's useful because she brings good luck. She is also Mistborn and, if she can master and learn to trust her powers, will enable Kelsior's crew to infiltrate the nobility and possibly overthrow the status quo. Intrigue, politics, and conspiracies mesh complexly in a world Sanderson realizes in satisfying depth and peoples with impressive characters. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
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Sanderson clearly put effort into creating a coherent magic system whose logic you can understand right away. It is as good as Mercedes Lackey's, but edgier. The worldbuilding is evident but not as dense as Tolkien's. The stakes are as well done as Lois McMaster Bujold's, and the plot twists are entirely Sanderson's own. There's even character death worthy of J. K. Rowling. Truly, to read this book is to come to understand how to write one--it takes a lot of work and planning. And I appreciate the work and planning that obviously went into this.
The pacing is fast and will keep you engaged.
Apparently, this book was written to answer the question, "What if the Prophesied Hero fails?" During the course of the book you will realize that the Prophesied Hero is not who you think it is. Read this one, you will love it.
The Final Empire is the first book in the Mistborn trilogy and centers around a young girl named Vin. She is a part of the lower class of citizens called the skaa, and she's a thief. Unknown to her at the beginning of the novel, she has special abilities. She is an Allomancer. Allomancers can ingest specific types of metals and used them give them special abilities likes heightened senses, speed, strength, and control of metals. Usually Allomancers can only use one type of metal to give them one specific ability, but Vin is what is known as a Mistborn. Mistborn can use all the metals, and in turn gives them all available abilities. Another Mistborn, Kelsier, discovers what Vin is and taker her under his wing to train. Kelsier is also a skaa. Vin and Kelsier are the two main voices in the book, and the perspective shifts between the two throughout the novel. They live in a world known as The Final Empire that is oppressively ruled by The Lord Ruler. After taking on Vin and getting together a group of rebels an other Allomancers, Kelsier hatches a plan to liberate the skaa and defeat The Lord Ruler.
Usually I am very intimidated by a book like this. If I saw this in a store and saw the words "skaa", "Allomancy", and "Mistborn" on the back of the book, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. I had to hear a lot of people rave about this book online before I pulled the trigger. Sanderson eases into the world slowly and reveals things in a very organic way. I never once felt overwhelmed by the fantasy terms or by too many characters. One thing that helped was Sanderson never had too many locales in play at once. There is one main city where most of the characters are interacting, but other than that it's just a few outer locations that are minor and aren't hard to keep track of. That being said, the world he builds is incredibly rich. When the end of the book rolled around, I didn't want to leave. Sanderson creates this extremely vivid world, and fills with these diverse characters with personalities that feel real. They felt real enough that I was equating them to people I know in real life. I was just taken aback when reading through this high fantasy novel, and I thought things like, "Oh, that is just like so-and-so."
I loved this book. I really, really loved this book. There was good closure at the end, but knowing this was a series I still had so many questions on my mind after reading it. I can safely say I'm continuing on with the rest of the books (and with Brandon Sanderson's other books, Cosmere or not). The Well of Ascension is the second book in the series, and is the March book for the #YearOfCosmere read-a-long.
Sanderson has amazing timing. Like a good hustler he knows how to play his audience and get them hooked.
My complaint with most modern fantasy books is that they are predictable. I know right off the bat what is going to happen, when & where and who's going to do what. There is a beaten track that yields results and very few writers dare stray from it.
Sanderson craftily uses that to his advantage by providing things you've come to expect in an unexpected way. For example in most fantasy books you expect the protagonist to be in mortal peril, but you expect that to happen approximately two thirds into the book. You don't doubt Harry's survival till he meets professor Quirrell in front of the Mirror of Erised, Bilbo is safe as houses till he encounters the Gollum, Katniss is going to make it till her fight with Cato. Sanderson puts both main characters in mortal peril 30% in the story and he does that at a time when you are so dazzled by their awesomeness that you don't even consider failure.
He starts by giving his characters an impossible task. He impresses you by having his characters come up with a smart solution to said seemingly impossible problem. He builds momentum and once you start committing to the character, believe in their capabilities and, as a result, in the feasibility of the their plan he shatters it spectacularly, leaving you gasping and wondering how will the characters, you've so come to care for, overcome this adversity.
Plot twists are an art and Sanderson is a master artist.
He is also impressive when it comes to character development. I've come to love every single character in this book. No two characters are alike, from Breeze, to Clubs, to Kelsier, every single one has a unique, distinctive, solid personality. I can picture Breeze at an expensive cafe in Venice grifting rich people, I can picture Ham running his own farm somewhere in Texas, I can picture Kelsier as a reforming leader. They live and breath outside of this book's pages. Their goals and motives are clear and that helps me understand them and that in turn helps me relate. The character that changed the most during the course of this book was Vin. She went from a distrusting, suspicious, wild girl that hardly spoke two words and went out of her away to be inconspicuous and stay in the sidelines to a refined, eloquent, empowered woman with friends she'd protect with her life just as they'd do for her.
The setting and the magic system where unique to Sanderson as well. A world painted with read and brown, covered in ash. Two magic systems based on metals, similar and yet vastly different. Nothing it this book reminded me of another.
But the most ingenious in this book were the quotes in the beginning of each chapter. You read those few words without knowing how they relate to the chapter or who's the one writing them. Is it Vin? Is it Kelsier? It isn't even clear if the one writing them is a man or a woman. Then by chapter 13 Sanderson introduces the book from which the quotes are taking and suddenly they make sense and they take a whole new meaning and yet...you still don't really know!
Like a magician throughout the whole book Sanderson tells you to watch his cool tophat while he pulls the rabbit out of his sleeve.
If I was ever to meet him all I'd have to say is "Thank you!"