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Review of The Final Empire

The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson


In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage — Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

* * *

Truthfully, I didn’t find this Goodreads summary all that enticing. It tells a tiny bit about the setting, a tiny bit about a fraction of the characters, and truthfully, the question at the end didn’t make sense without having read the book. I might not have started the book on my own, but a friend recommended it to me saying, “Very unique magic system and it’s a crazy series.” Well… he wasn’t wrong.

My shortened summary would be along the lines of: metal-based magic, an evil God-like overlord, and an impossible heist – what could possibly go wrong?

There were so many things I enjoyed about this book. First of all, the opening premise of a crew pulling off heists had some good parallels to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Emotionally unstable crew leader with a flair for the dramatic and brother issues? Check. A young, abandoned woman with incredible skill who doesn’t understand just how important she is to others? Check. An utterly impossible heist that hinges on insane planning and secrets? Check. But oh, this book has all that and more.

Second, the magic element of The Final Empire was very cool to explore. “Allomancy, a magic of the metals.” Once again, a correct summary but very sparse for details. Allomancy is a metal-based magic, relying on the ingestion or presence of metals to work. (Don’t worry, Sanderson does not give anyone lead poisoning.) Not everyone can use Allomancy, some characters have limitations on what types of Allomancy they can use, and Allomancy runs out when the individual’s ingested metals run out. As far as fictional magic goes, this is quite an elaborate and nuanced system, and exploring it through the eyes of the characters was both exciting and insightful, a “show and tell” explanation.

Finally, (before I give away the good bits) I loved these characters. They were diverse in backgrounds and skills, communication and quirks. My three favorites were Kelsier, Vin, and Sazed. Kelsier, ever the mastermind, pulled together a crew like none before in the hopes of changing their current world, and his crew/friends all played a key piece in his plans. Not one member was unaccounted for in his elaborate plans, and their changing dynamics throughout the book were amusing and powerful.

“There’s always another secret.” In order to find out what it is, you’ll just have to read the book!

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