Brandon Sanderson

Book 1, Mistborn

Gollancz (2010)

ISBN: 978 0 575 08991 4

Reviewed by Mitenae, June 2010

Vin is a street urchin, thieving and scamming with a crew on the streets of Luthadel to survive. But when Camon’s scam backfires and she’s discovered, Vin is rapidly plunged into a new world of Allomancy, balls, dancing and a plot many skaa have tried, but have never achieved in a thousand years.

Kelsier should be dead. Instead he’s stirring trouble and comes across Vin, a mistborn, like himself and introduces her to a world of Allomancy. But he has plans, big plans to overthrow the Lord Ruler of the Final Empire and he intends to keep the biggest plan a closely guarded secret.

While waiting for this book to arrive, I saw it in a bookstore, but I only picked it up because I got a chance to see what was coming. Neither the cover, nor the marketing would ever entice me to look it at it. The line on the front cover “What if the Dark Lord won?” is misleading, inaccurate and risks giving away the punchline. I love the pencil drawings on the cover, but the design as a whole is bordering on being a derivative version of what is currently popular and does nothing to make me want to pick it up nor does the style of it reflect the world found within its pages.

The Final Empire is a book I began reading with reservations about some aspects of the worldbuilding. Specifically to do with the amount of ash in the air from the ashmounds and it’s repercussions upon the environment. Ash is a normal part of life for the Final Empire but Brandon Sanderson’s use of ash and ashmounds for me does not correlate with its real world counterpart, volcanoes. Ash in the quantities and continuity he is suggesting cannot come from ashmounds without the accompanying toxic gases that would make life nigh on impossible. I could accept it, if it was from industry, but not from nature. The effects this has upon the environment, although plausible still isn’t plausible enough for me to accept it. The book implies that the people have survived where it’s normal for leaves to be brown and the sun red. To me this implies the sort of environment no one could survive under. Brown leaves on the whole are dead leaves and no flowers means no growth and no new trees. After a thousand years, I’m surprised anyone is alive. These aspects just do not sit right with me and need further explanation and clarification for them to be plausible. Incidentally, the explanations for these are found in book three The Hero of Ages and are not revealed here because they would lead the reader to question the story Brandon Sanderson is hiding. But for this to be done correctly, these worldbuilding elements need to sit more neatly into the world than how they currently do. As it is, they stand out enough for me to question their purpose.

Those issues aside, The Final Empire is an enjoyable read from the author chosen to finish writing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, and I looked forward to reading the other two.