I finally read The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. I am well behind the times, as the author has published many more books in the eleven years since this one arrived, but that didn’t stop the fun.
This is the first of the Mistborn series, and I loved it. It was a thrill ride, which isn’t something I often can say about a book with more than 500 pages. The last time I had such strong emotions at the end of a book was Ender’s Game, though this one doesn’t have the story bending twist in the final chapters.
For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.
Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.
But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.
This saga dares to ask a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails?
Friends recommended this series, and I’d heard the author speak on Writing Excuses. It doesn’t make much sense we’d pick up a book because “the author sounds like a nice guy,” but that’s how humans work.
The novel was plain fun to read, and I enjoyed getting to know most of the characters. I even enjoyed reading about the bad guys, and there were several I really wanted to see dead. Very dead. There were several plot turns one might expect, but they didn’t usually happen in the way or at the time I expected them to happen.
My favorite part about the book was the world building. I expected great characters to read about, but I was also very invested in the world by the end. I wanted to know more about the different groups, where they came from, what they wanted, and where they were going. I thought about some of these issues for days after, which is always a good sign as a reader.
I also appreciated that the book had a proper ending. Authors want to leave room for a sequel in their novels, but there’s a big difference between leaving the world open to explore later and failing to tie up the story. The Final Empire was completely satisfying at the end, even though it is clear there was more to explore.
There was one odd complaint I might make about the book, or at least the version at my library. On the Writing Excuses podcast, they joke about long his books are, but I didn’t find it to be any larger than the other large fantasy books around it. Then I saw the font size! Mine was very small. Pick the Kindle version if you’d like larger text.
This is a wonderful fantasy novel and I recommend it if you love that genre!
Questions for You!
Have you read this book? What did you think?
Have you read the whole Mistborn series? Did you enjoy all of them?
What book(s) should I read next?