Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

As probably one of the slowest readers in this group, I, perhaps, shouldn’t have chosen a book that was almost 600 pages long.

With the heavy academic reading I do for work, and the last two books I read being emotionally hard and challenging, I just wanted something fun to read. Mistborn filled that role nicely.

The first of the Mistborn trilogy, ‘The Final Empire’ is set centuries after the bad guys won the great fight for mankind. It is a dystopian world of systemic despair and hardship, where even those in power have to walk political tightropes to maintain their position. Yes I did say it was fun. It’s what I consider a traditional fantasy, where the horror is without the gritty realism, where it is there for the story but does not leave you disturbed. It’s the equivalent of watching those action flicks, where buildings explode and people fly through the air but it’s all light and magic.

It is a well-developed ensemble of characters, where even the secondary characters hold enough interest. The majority of them are thefts and conman, even those in power and never what they seem. ”There is always another secret” becomes a key theme, and it is this that kept me going. The intrigue, the manoeuvring, the never being entirely certain of the truth and motives.

Kelsier, the co-main character is built on secrets. He survived the unsurvivable, and became a name that is whispered with awe and fear. He’s also the leader of the gang, who talks of trust but holds close his own secrets. His motives were always so unclear, questionable, and like Vin I would sometimes question if he was too good to be true.

Vin, the other co-main character was an interesting depiction. She was a theft that learned the hard way never to trust. That could have made her one-dimensional so easily, but you get to see her struggle with that. She does not wish to hold onto her distrust but yet retreats to its lessons. When shown a world she never knew, of richness and opulence she feels herself seduced by it. Again, she could have easily become a stereotype of a gullible girl, but there’s a deft touch there, of understandable seduction, but also strength of character.

As I said, it’s the first of a trilogy, so there are a lot of questions unanswered, there is a sense of the ending creating questions rather than tying it all together. This is the nature of trilogies after all. But it is readable as a standalone, there is still enough resolution to feel the satisfaction of the last page.

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