Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: Mistborn

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Mistborn #1
Published July 31 2017 by Tor Books

Once, a hero arose to save the world. A young man with a mysterious heritage courageously challenged the darkness that strangled the land.

He failed.

For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by the immortal emperor known as the Lord Ruler. Every revolt has failed miserably.

Yet somehow, hope survives. Hope that dares to dream of ending the empire and even the Lord Ruler himself. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one built around the ultimate caper, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the determination of an unlikely heroine, a street urchin who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a Mistborn.
Imagine a world where the bad guy wins. Where thousands of years have passed under the oppressive rule of an evil immortal and god-like tyrant. This is the world we are introduced to in Mistborn. The world is bleak, dreary and more often then not, cruel. The Lord Ruler, as he's known has ruled with an iron fist for what seems like an eternity. There is an elite sector of society that he allows to thrive but the rest; called the skaa are poor, oppressed, tortured slaves that must do the Lord Ruler's bidding. The skaa have long given up hope and live each day in fear and suffering. This is the world presented to us by Brandon Sanderson at the beginning of Mistborn. And believe me when I say Sanderson throws you into the thick of it things from the start. The first 50 pages or so almost felt a bit overwhelming because everything was happening so fast and I didn't fully understand how the world functions or the new terminology being thrown at me. But I think it was meant to feel that way. Because when the explanations do start coming(after about 50 pages or so), you can fully appreciate the depth of imaginings and intelligence that it took to make this story come together.

The story features the shared narrative of both protagonists Kelsier and Vin. But fear not, this is not done in the same vein as the trendy shared narratives featuring both sides of a romantic relationship that have seen an emergence in YA fiction of late. No this is done out of necessity to move the story along. Initially we meet Kelsier, a man hell-bent on revenge on the Lord Ruler and his final empire who begins causing trouble from the word go. But Kelsier is no simple trouble maker; he has a plan. And as he begins recruiting players to put his plan in motion, they discover Vin. Vin is a poor abused teenage skaa girl who has powers she doesn't fully understand; powers that lead to her discovery by Kelsier and his crew...powers that Kelsier knows because he has them too. You see, both Kelsier and Vin are Mistborn. A Mistborn has the ability to draw power from various metals by ingesting them and 'burning' them to release their inherent powers, each different metal granting a different power or ability. There are Mistings who can only 'burn' one of the 8 major metals and then there are Mistborns who can burn all 8 major metals separately or all at the same time! For example, burning Pewter enhances physical strength, while burning Tin enhances one's senses. It's much more detailed and nuanced than what I've hinted at in this review though. The magical system is unlike any I've ever read about, it's intricate, inventive and wholly unique. Truly it was remarkable to discover and behold, but that's not the half of it. This entire world functions on a highly developed system in which both the magic within the world and the infrastructure of the world itself run on METAL. You see the Lord Ruler also controls the distribution of metal amongst his people, thereby controlling the economy and the politics within with metal.

Now, while the magic and world building rightfully deserve to be praised, another highlight is the character evolution; especially Vin. Her progress from paranoid, terrified street urchin to fully fledged Mistborn is done to perfection. Nothing ever feels forced or rushed, and why should it, at around 650 pages there's more than enough time to do things thoroughly. We learn about her tragic history while she simultaneously begins to let go of her past, bit by bit and embrace who she is meant to become. I absolutely LOVED Vin! With everything she's been through, she managed to keep her will to survive and despite her bleak outlook on things, she's open to learning and harnessing her powers. With the help of Kelsier, and a host of varied and likable secondary characters they embark on an improbable and unlikely partnership. Kelsier himself is instantly endearing as he fills the role of Survivor, Rebel, Mentor and friend. Every scene he's in is compelling and he's able to bring a lightness and even humor in the darkest of times. And like I mentioned, the narratives go back and forth between Vin and Kelsier so each offers unique insight into their characters and how they perceive the other...and all this was flawlessly executed. I honestly can't say enough!

As I mentioned, the book is no quick read at over 600 pages, I never felt it dragged or went to any unnecessary detours or details. At one point about halfway through, Vin does succumb to an injury, and her Mistborn training did stall a bit, but at that moment she was also tasked with impersonating nobility to gather valuable information for Kelsier and their crew. And while I will admit I missed her Mistborn activities, it was a necessary deviation and one that provided it's own intrigue. We gain unique insight into how the nobility functions and we have an opportunity for a little bit of a romantic side-story to develop. I found everything about this world absorbing: the politics, the magic, the meetings with the crew to discuss the rebel crew's agenda...it all had it's purpose and was written simply and with just enough detail to keep in interesting, but never too much where you feel sidetracked! The ending is satisfying and wraps the major plot point nicely, while leaving enough things unanswered for the story to continue. I am honestly at a loss as to how I am only discovering Brandon Sanderson now. I've already ordered the two sequels to Mistborn and I've definitely added his other novels to my 'to-read' list. HIGHLY recommended to any fans of adult high fantasy coming from a more current author, and fans of book such as Lord of the Rings.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

3 comments:

  1. This is the first time I hear of this one. I actually really enjoy shared perspectives in books so I think I would really like this, especially that it's not just a repeat of the same scenes in a different POV, but actually advances the plot. Over 600 pages though, wowza haha. I don't mind long books when it doesn't drag but I often find I need to read them in spurts between other books. Great review Mimi!

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  2. Thanks Giselle! Yeah, the shared POV is really well done in this one, when it switched perspectives, it picked up pretty much where the other one left off. And it really features to heroes: the older mentor type and the young apprentice. But yeah it's not a quick read. I mean the book is built like a pocket-book, but then it's 600+ pages LOL. I actually thought about you as I was reading it. I know High-Fantasy isn't always your thing, but I hope you check it out...even if you do need to break it up with other books in between. I didn't find it dragged at all, but there are some slower parts.

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  3. What a lovely review! I discovered Brandon Sanderson a couple years ago, and I've been amazed by his books ever since. I read the first Mistborn two months ago. It was soo good! Such detail, amazing world-building, and I loved Vin and Kelsier. I'm getting the two sequels for my bithday on the 18th :D

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