Friday, May 3, 2019

Review: MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 5/5 stars

This is my favorite series. Even though I read it only three years ago, it was time for a reread because I missed this world and these characters and I wanted to be back with them. And I loved this book even more the second time around, which I didn’t know was possible.

My first time reading Mistborn, I found the beginning to be very slow and I struggled to get into it until around page 150, when Kelsier starts teaching Vin how to use Allomancy. Upon my reread, I still found the beginning to be slow but I appreciated it much more because I could see the crucial world building happening and the whole plot was being set up and characters were being defined. It’s very political but it’s absolutely worth sticking out because this is the most intricate and incredible series I’ve ever read.

Allomancy is the main magic system, which focuses on ingesting different metals to give you different abilities. It’s highly complex in how it all works yet it’s easy to understand (especially with reference to the Ars Arcanum at the back). It’s also downright cool. I’ll never get tired of reading about Allomantic fights and seeing all the incredible ways the characters can use their metals.

I forgot how political and dark this book was. Most of this book is political maneuvering, planning for raids, recruiting an army, spreading gossip at balls, weakening the structure of the nobility, yet I enjoyed it. Despite loathing politics in real life, I find political intrigue in fantasy books to be one of the most enjoyable elements for me because I love to see how everything is planned behind the scenes and then come together at the end. Plus the politics here tie seamlessly into the rich history and lore that is set up as the basis for the story, and we see how the governmental structure caused much of that history to be lost over centuries. It’s all fascinating.

Besides writing politics so well, another thing Sanderson does well is his worldbuilding. Scadriel is expansive, especially when looked at in the grand scheme of the Cosmere, and he is constantly adding on more intricate details in each chapter. He always reminds you how dreary it is in Luthadel, with ash falling from the sky and everything being grey and the mists swirling around at night. It paints a whole scene in your mind.

The atmosphere isn’t the only grey aspect in this book: we also have tons of morally grey characters with a range of personalities. My first time reading this series, Vin was my favorite character. Now upon rereading it, even though I still love Vin and Kelsier and Elend, Sazed is my favorite character (although I think that’s because I already know how he will grow throughout the series so I appreciated him much more in this book the second time around). I like Sazed’s demeanor and I appreciate his devotion to his calling and how seriously he takes religion. He always talks about various religions and asks people if they want to convert, but not in a begging preachy way, more in a way that’s liked him asking “would knowing about this religion help you find peace and joy in this world?” and I really admire that about him, how he wants to help people in that way. He’s very complex, and he goes through one of the most intimate and soul-searching trials of self-identity and doubt across this series that I’ve ever seen and it’s beautiful and heartbreaking to watch.

“The right belief is like a good cloak, I think. If it fits you well, it keeps you warm and safe. The wrong fit, however, can suffocate.” —Sazed, on finding the right religion.

I didn’t realize how much of this book I had forgotten over the past three years. Minor details and connecting events. I remembered all the major plot points so rereading it was exciting because I was like “I know this is going to happen, but I cannot remember or even see now how we will get from here to there,” so it was so much fun to go on that journey again.

I never realized how much foreshadowing happens in this first book for events later in the series. So many details I overlooked the first time I read it but that I saw this time and I just sat there with wide eyes as it all dawned on me, saying, “Ohhh....” It’s incredible to see how everything wraps together, that it was all planned out from the beginning. Sanderson is truly an incredible writer to leave hints all throughout this book for the events to come in later books, and it made this reread so worth it. I can’t imagine how much he had to plan this series out before he began writing it.
Here are just a few of the foreshadowed events I can remember:

[—There’s foreshadowing for Marsh becoming an Inquisitor when he’s called Ironeyes.
—There’s foreshadowing that Kelsier is going to die and become the religious leader when Sazed explained to him of the Valla religions, how the followers stayed determined longer than any other and they believed in their leaders even though they were dead. Kelsier also makes many statements throughout the book that foreshadow him becoming a martyr.
—Vin telling Kelsier that everyone leaves her and asking him when he’s going to leave her foreshadows his death.
—Vin and Elend’s conversations foreshadow their future relationship. I couldn’t help but giggling at times because I already know what happens to them in The Well of Ascension.
—There’s foreshadowing about Hemalurgy, even though it’s never explicitly mentioned in this book, because of Vin’s earring and how she can hear Reen’s voice once she puts it in but it’s actually Ruin.
—So many of the epigraphs before each chapter foreshadow events to come in the rest of the trilogy. They reference the Bands of Mourning (though not by name), the Well of Ascension (also not by name), and the fate of the world and end of the series. Seriously incredible when you look at it as a whole, that Sanderson was dropping these hints back at the beginning.
—There are so many other instances that I wish I would have written down as I was reading, but there were little foreshadowed details here and there that tied the whole story together. This book is definitely more intricate on the second go around.

I do think the end when Vin goes into Kredik Shaw was a little too easy for her, like when and where did she learn these new techniques to defeat the Inquisitors? However, I’ll forgive this being easy because of the unexpected way in which she defeats the Lord Ruler.]

This is absolutely my all-time favorite series. It completely changed my mind and opened my eyes about fantasy and made me fall in love with the genre. It is unlike anything else I’ve read; it’s very unique even while having a plot that’s not entirely original. I mean it has three separate magic systems, each of which is complex enough to garner its own series, but to mix them all together—Mistborn is captivating and full of surprises, and the series has so many facets that contribute to it being a truly great work of fantastical literature. I will never stop loving and recommending this book.

As Kelsier said, “There’s always another secret.”

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