Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Book Review: The Final Empire (Mistborn Book #1)

So, yeah, I'm back to the roots on which this blog is based - Books!!

And today I have for you, on of my absolute favourite fantasy authors - Brandon Sanderson who has been surprising me with the kind of magic systems he can come up with. He's also the author who completed the extra long yet super amazing Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, who unfortunately passed away before completing the 14 book series (Yes, 14 fantasy books - buy them, take a holiday and grow a beard)

I still have the other two books of the trilogy to read, which I promise to, very soon - Not promising you guys, I'm promising myself. Fine, I'll promise to you as well. I've been reading ebooks for a while now and although I would prefer owning hard copies, a friend gifted me the entire series, so ebooks for this series it is.

Anyway, I digress. As I mentioned, the book introduces a very cool magic system called Allomancy. This allows certain people to "burn" certain ingested metals for cool powers. There are ten known metals which can be used for allomancy and the powers range from using metal to enhance strength and stamina to jumping long distances to mind control. Of course, if you try and burn other or impure metals, you get sick and die. But very cleverly, Sanderson, through the eyes of the protagonist not only doubts this information, he also challenges the rules of the game.

As far as the characters are concerned, mostly the story is told from the viewpoints of two characters. Vin, a beaten down teenage thief in the capital city full of nobles and slaves (called skaa), who has allomancy but obviously doesn't know it and Kelsier, a proficient thief-cum-rebel, who is trying to organise a rebellion to bring down the all powerful Ruler and his centuries old empire.

There are of course a multitude of other characters like the other thieves in Kelsier's group who are proficient in the use of one metal each and therefore, one set of powers. These uni-powered guys/gals are called Mistings, while Kelsier and Vin are the far more rarer two or more metal burners called...yes you guessed it...allomancers.

Vin's character arc starts from a mistrusting kid who slowly starts trusting while parallely rising from hating nobles to understanding them, while Kelsier's the bright teacher who undergoes some transformation into a hero but mostly is already there. Their interactions, however, and Vin's training is gold.

Love is used sparingly and mostly as a plot element and nicely set as a teenage first love kind. The setting is bleak with ash-rains happening through and the general mood of the populace being dull and beaten, something which Kelsier changes with a heroic sacrifice. Politics and nuances are well handled, although not Martinesque but Sanderson has his own charm.

I have a slight complaint about the final antagonist - the all supreme Ruler. While he is formidable in his own right, the only reference to him is through entries of a book which our heroes manage to steal quite early. We never really learn much about him to really connect with or against the character, so his defeat feels just a tad hollow. But maybe this all will be corrected in the next two books.

As I said before the magic is refreshingly new- no one is chucking fireballs and elves are not  firing arrows by the dozen. All in all a very engaging page turner.

Signing off,


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