Review: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson


5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

This book was chosen as the Fantasy Book of the Month for February 2014 by my book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, and thank goodness it was – I would have taken a while getting round to reading it otherwise.

The synopsis above doesn’t really do the book much justice, in fact it makes it sound like a pretty generic fantasy novel. Which this is definitely not. Whilst it may have some of those common fantasy fiction tropes, it also has plenty of content that makes it totally unique – not to mention Sanderson’s brilliant writing that just keeps dragging the reader further in.

The story is mostly shown through the (third person) eyes of Vin, a young girl living with a street gang. Due to her way of life, she’s reserved and nervous around others, and thanks to some advice from her brother, doesn’t trust a soul. At the beginning of the book I found her a difficult character to connect with or even to understand; she was just as withdrawn from the reader as she was from the other fictional characters around her. However, that all changed when she met Kelsier. A Mistborn, meaning he can use all forms of Allomancy, Kelsier helped Vin to come into her own powers. It was as she learnt to control her own strength that Vin really opened up and developed as a character. She became more confident, comfortable around others and much more likeable. It’s not that her shy self was disagreeable, it’s just that she was hard to feel any real emotion for.

Allomancy was one of my absolute favourite things about the book. A type of magic that relies on metals, Sanderson has created a brilliant and truly unique system. Most people can only ‘burn’ one or two metals, and their powers depend on the types of metal – but some people, known as Mistborn, can use all. The way that Kelsier and Vin can practically fly around the city, using their Allomancy to Push and Pull themselves away and towards metal objects summoned up the most epic mental images, and I just absolutely loved the idea of how they could use their powers. The book, although very enjoyable before, really picked up when Vin began training.

And now for the few things that bugged me. One was Elend Venture, the object of Vin’s affections. I just don’t understand the appeal of Elend – he was a foppish, spoiled brat. The only way I would understand it is if there is a Scarlet Pimpernel type reveal in the next book, where we find out that this rich boy image was just a facade. Here’s hoping! The other minor annoyance was the way one character (Spook) spoke: I get that he wasn’t from the same country as the others, and that his native tongue was different. But his garbled speech was REALLY difficult to read sometimes and it annoyed me.

However, Sanderson produces some shocking moments and makes some controversial decisions that work really well – as well as crafting a wonderfully told story packed full of detailed world-building and well developed characters. I completely and utterly loved this book – and Allomancy most of all. A definite recommendation, particularly for fans of epic fantasy – although I get the feeling most of you would have read this one already!

20 thoughts on “Review: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson”

  1. Okay, allomancy does sound REALLY cool and fascinating. 🙂 I checked it out on Goodreads and some other friends of mine also really liked this book. Consider me sold! 😀 Great review, Rinn!

  2. I really need to reread this. I can only vaguely remember my feelings about it/what happened (I read it 4 years ago or something) but they were pretty similar to yours. Allomancy was so cool, one of the best magical powers I’ve ever read about. It was so details and thought out.

    After reading this and Steelheart, I’ve come to realise Sanderson is amazing at writing really really really good characters and world building. I want to check out more of his stuff. And buy the Mistborn series so I can reread Final Empire and the rest all in one go 😀

    1. Yep, plus there are four books to the series now (not sure if that’s all of them), so you could re-read the first to refresh yourself before moving on to the others 😉

      I’d love to read Steelheart too, because I want to see if his sci-fi writing is as good as his fantasy =)

  3. I think this is my favorite Sanderson book. The rest of the series was still pretty good, but never really reached the heights hit on this one. His new series interests me, but is definitely more of a ‘what happens next’ interest than any real longing for his writing.

    1. Interesting to hear – I guess lots of series suffer from that.

      By new series, do you mean Steelheart or Words of Radiance?

  4. I’ve been meaning to read this one so your review has made me push this to the top of my TBR pile! 🙂 It sounds like a great fantasy and I’m really intrigued to know more about the magic! I’ve never seen that cover before too – it’s gorgeous!

    1. Good! The magic system was just so clever. And I think the covers are gorgeous – I have a feeling the blue and white ones are the UK editions though. I’m not such a big fan of the other versions…

  5. Man… I’ve only read Steelheart by Sanderson so far, which I LOVED. I just read a review on another blog about his Way of Kings series, and it sounds like from these reviews and my own experiences that man has a lot of originality in him. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book and everything else he’s written!

    1. I just spotted a load of his other series/books that I didn’t know existed – how does he come up with so many epic fantasy ideas??

      Steelheart is on my Kindle wishlist, and I keep checking the price =) Although if I see it cheap in paperback I’ll buy that, but I’m not sure if it’s only hardback at the moment?

      1. That’s what I was saying! His imagination is amazing, and the ideas are pretty unique from what I’ve seen.

        I think Steelheart is hardback only right now, since it just recently came out. I want to say there’s a set amount of time before a book is released in paperback but I’m not entirely sure… I feel like it’s a year or some similar amount. It probably depends on the publishing house.

      2. There normally is, often about a year but in some cases I think they go straight to paperback. When I got Sarah J. Maas’s Crown of Midnight I got it the week of release, and it was a paperback. I don’t know how they decide, haha!

  6. Glad that you enjoyed this book! Definitely tied up there as one of my favourite books by the author, his imagination always astounds me (if only I could come up with a complex magic system that makes sense *pokes at her draft*) 😀

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