The Final Empire

August 21, 2015 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

The Final EmpireThe Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson


I’m annoyed that the title on the cover is Mistborn, when the title page clearly states that the title is Mistborn: The Final Empire. Maybe I’m being too particular, but if the book is titled “Mistborn“, I would expect the entire series to be in that book. Otherwise, why not put The Final Empire on the cover, as appropriate?

The novel is interesting in that it’s a typical fantasy novel with a Medieval setting, magic, monsters, and a vague but evil nemesis, but it also wasn’t a typical fantasy novel at all. There are two main characters here: Kelsier, a lowborn skaa with Allomantic powers and a desire to free the other skaa from the tyranny of the nobility; and Vin, a thief who lives on the streets. Neither one is a king or princess hidden as child, and neither of them are part of a larger, foreseen destiny. The story as it develops is just one of people, without the usual fantasy tropes to define or hinder them. In addition, the usual arc of a fantasy novel is absent here, with a different ebb and flow of the plot. I hate to mention specifics, since it was a nice surprise to see how it shifted around, but it was definitely refreshing to see the story defy my expectations.

I’ve heard a lot of good about the Mistborn series, so my expectations might have been a little high, but this wasn’t the level of story I was expecting based on its hype. It was a good read, and had engaging, interesting characters (as well as a concluding scene that was difficult to put down), but I’m at the point where all the Medieval fantasy novels I read will have to compare to Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and it just doesn’t hold up against it. It’s a different type of fantasy story, yes, and I know it’s unfair to compare the two series, but I can’t help it. Martin’s saga is the epitome of good, engaging fantasy, and I want more of that.

In addition, I was bothered by Vin consistently being called “Child” or “Girl” through most of the story. She’s not the most confident or self-assured character at the start of the story (which is critical to her character, mind you), but she’s at least competent, and deserving of more than condescension. Very few other characters actually called her by her name. I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be an indication of who the other characters were, or a portrayal of the setting and time, but it grated on me.

I liked the novel well enough to see it through (the ending certainly sets the stage for a larger, more complicated arc across the next two books), but it didn’t have that kind of OOMPH that sets the really good novels apart from the rest. Who knows, though? Maybe by the time I finish the entire trilogy, I’ll understand what all the fuss is about.

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