The Final Empire (Mistborn # 1) – Review

Book: The Final Empire (Mistborn # 1)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Year: 2006
Bookhad Rating: ❤❤❤


“The best liars are those who tell the truth most of the time.”

Brandon has created a world of magic where the world is covered in black mist and is ruled by an entity who calls himself Lord Ruler. He is un-beatable and immortal because he is considered to be the God of the lands, The Sliver of Infinity. The world of Sanderson’s story is divided into 2 basic parts; the Nobles and the Skaa. The skaas are nothing but the workers and the nobles are the capitalists who own the mines and the fields and everything that is not owned by the Lord himself.

Sanderson’s creation is underlined by a few unique pointers that make the reading of Mistborn an experience worthy of a high fantasy. Mist falls like snow, the plants are brown-reddish-yellow instead of the usual green, the sun is a large orange orb close to the earth and Obligators and Inquisitors roam the streets for ‘protection’ and for other judicial purposes. Apart from the Lord himself, the obligators and inquisitors have the power to enforce all sorts of rights and to oversee deals and trade agreements.

Kelsier, a thief and a risk taker, is a survivor of the harsh punishments meted out to disobedient skaas. He has returned as a hardened thief and a bigger risk taker.

He is also the most accomplished Mistborn the world has seen.

But, what is a Mistborn?

A Mistborn is a human with the power to ‘burn’ ingested metals and use them to their advantage. Every metal has an intrinsic ability that helps a Mistborn do things that would be impossible for a regular human. There are 8 basic metals that can be ingested by a Mistborn and exploited by him. Tin, Iron, Steel, Bronze, Pewter, Brass, Copper and Zinc are the 8 known metals. For example, Iron will help a mistborn ‘pull’ and steel will help to ‘push’ a Mistborn. Pulling and Pushing are terms to describe how a Mistborn uses the weight of the metal in question and propels him away or towards the source. Similarly, pewter enhances physical abilities. Only the Mistborns roam around in the dark as they are the only ones who dare to.

Mistborns are very rare to the point that they’re almost non-existent.

Kelsier and his thieving crew are planning a job that nobody believes can be done. Vin is a 16 year old girl, who had been using her power to sooth emotions for her fellow crew members unknowingly until Kelsier picks her up as a new addition to his own crew. Vin learns that not only is she a Misting, one who can ‘burn’ only one Metal, but a full blown Mistborn.

The plans are made and the story never stops for a breather. There are neither empty holes nor lost patches. There is only action and very descriptive ones too. I could imagine each movement of the fight taking place and the thrill was worth the description.

There are many other characters in this book that I haven’t mention for the sake of brevity. I can go on and on if I don’t stop myself.

To be honest, it is difficult to paint a proper picture of Sanderson’s canvas without going into the details. In a nutshell, the job that Kelsier has in mind is to kill the Lord Ruler and to hijack his store of Atium, which is the fabled high metal, allowing its user to see a glimpse of the future. The plot of the story is simple; a tyrant Ruler, a rebellion, an extra ordinary leader, a worthy student of the leader and the laying of the plan to overthrow the Ruler who rules with an iron fist.

The best part of the book isn’t the plot or the characters. It was the detailing and intrinsic rules that the author that he had made to weave the fantasy around. This is the point that made me love his book. Sanderson has created a magical world that flows by itself and paints a picture as far removed from the usual fantasy novels that I have read. Of course, my ‘fantasy’ books only include Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and the Harry Potter Series. So I wasn’t exactly a connoisseur when it came to fantasy but if there was one thing that I was certain was that I wanted to read something that was as far away from the world that Tolkien created as possible.

And I was not disappointed. I am not at all happy with this review because I don’t think I have even begun to cover the complex magic that permeates the story and I feel like I am taking away the respect that the book deserves. The book deserves a thesis, it deserves a lengthy synopsis and a long narration to make my readers appreciate what this book is. For anyone who knows me will understand what kind of respect I now have for Sanderson when they read the next few statements. I am biased and that is a simple truth. I’m a lover of Tolkien and would never, under normal circumstances, accept that there was, or is, anyone like him when it came to Fantasy writing. After all, what is Fantasy of not about Elves and Dragons and Hobbits?

Mistborn not only reached the limits of that biased ceiling but almost cracked it. I will still not accept anyone beyond Tolkien. I’m sorry for my stubborn nature. But, hear you this. Brandon Sanderson has come as close as possible. He has created a world that is not Tolkien-isk and, at least if judged a priori, his stories stand alone in a self created space which borrows nothing from Tolkien either.

That itself means that this book and the series (It is a Trilogy) is worthy of the genre of a High Fantasy. This is no teen novel. This is a new world where you can lose yourself and imagine the possibilities of the realms of the other worlds!

Brandon Sanderson created magic when he wrote ‘The Final Empire’ and furthered his goal in creating a world interlaced with his other stories and also accommodating his story telling with his ‘3 Rules of Magic’.

I would like to thank a Bookhad for suggesting this book and opening my eyes wider when it came to Fantasy. I have learnt to look beyond Tolkien and can never thank her enough. Anuja, may your happiness soar above all else and I thank you, again, for being someone who helped me in my literary journey.

PS: Tolkien is still the father and all, okay? Just saying.

Suggested Readings

For a video review check this out.

Sanderson’s First Rule of Magic
Sanderson’s Second Rule of Magic
Sanderson’s Third Rule of Magic

For a brilliant synopsis of the art of Burning Metals read the page, here.


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