Saturday, August 11, 2012

Review – Mistborn Trilogy – Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor
Genre: Epic Fantasy

Book Descriptions: 
MISTBORN is the name of Brandon's epic fantasy trilogy. The first book is technically MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE, though people just tend to call it MISTBORN or MISTBORN 1. The entire series consists of THE FINAL EMPIRE (2006), THE WELL OF ASCENSION (2007), and THE HERO OF AGES (2008). It's a hybrid epic fantasy heist story with a focus on political intrigue and powerful action scenes.

Mistborn: The Final Empire - What if the hero of prophecy fails? What kind of world results when the Dark Lord is in charge? The answer will be found in the Mistborn Trilogy, a saga of surprises and magical martial-arts action that begins in Mistborn.

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the "Sliver of Infinity," reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler's most hellish prison. Kelsier "snapped" and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark. Kelsier recruited the underworld's elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot. But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel's plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she's a half-Skaa orphan, but she's lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

Mistborn: The Well of Ascension  -  Evil has been defeated. The war has just begun. They did the impossible, deposing the godlike being whose brutal rule had lasted a thousand years. Now Vin, the street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and Elend Venture, the idealistic young nobleman who loves her, must build a healthy new society in the ashes of an empire. They have barely begun when three separate armies attack. As the siege tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows. It may just be that killing the Lord Ruler was the easy part. Surviving the aftermath of his fall is going to be the real challenge.

Mistborn: The Hero of Ages  -  Who is the Hero of Ages? To end the Final Empire and restore freedom, Vin killed the Lord Ruler. But as a result, the Deepness---the lethal form of the ubiquitous mists---is back, along with increasingly heavy ashfalls and ever more powerful earthquakes. Humanity appears to be doomed. Having escaped death at the climax of The Well of Ascension only by becoming a Mistborn himself, Emperor Elend Venture hopes to find clues left behind by the Lord Ruler that will allow him to save the world. Vin is consumed with guilt at having been tricked into releasing the mystic force known as Ruin from the Well. Ruin wants to end the world, and its near omniscience and ability to warp reality make stopping it seem impossible. She can’t even discuss it with Elend lest Ruin learn their plans! The conclusion of the Mistborn trilogy fulfills all the promise of the first two books. Revelations abound, connections rooted in early chapters of the series click into place, and surprises, as satisfying as they are stunning, blossom like fireworks to dazzle and delight. It all leads up to a finale unmatched for originality and audacity that will leave readers rubbing their eyes in wonder, as if awaking from an amazing dream.


I first became a Sanderson fan when he took up the mantle to complete The Wheel of Time series by the late Robert Jordan.  I liked Sanderson’s writing style, but had no idea what his true imagination contained, what stories he could produce on his own, and so I was a bit hesitant to read his successful series, Mistborn.  Not because I didn’t believe he was a good writer, but because I did believe, and feared being disappointed.  After reading Mistborn, I’m now very relieved.  Sanderson not only lived up to my expectations, but surpassed them.

As a reader and as a fellow writer, I’m beginning to discover what I truly love most about a story. I love adventure, I love action, but most of all …I love characters – good, flawed and complex characters.  Mistborn had a great story premise, but it didn’t’ take long before the storyline took a backseat to the characters, and I’m quite happy about that.

The first character to really grab my attention, and my heart, was the young, scared and vulnerable Vin – street urchin, orphan and skittish loner.  I found myself quickly rooting for her and wanting to see her rise to greatness.  Then, it wasn’t long before, like Vin, I found myself LOVING the company of Kelsier and his Crew.  Perhaps I have a soft spot for a little rebellion, who knows.  I can probably blame that on my Star Wars geek side, where the oppressed come together to fight against the Empire. Then of course, I instantly fell in love with the bookworm and prince charming-in-disguise, Elend Venture. However, when I first met this last character, I rolled my eyes, because of the obvious Cinderella motif, but at the same time I had to smile, because there’s a reason to use this formula (poor, abused waif becomes the belle of the ball and catches the eye of the dashing prince) - it WORKS!  It’s something ingrained into the psyche of every young girl, even if we don’t recognize it. That was a smart move on Sanderson’s part.  Then, of course, there are all those other supporting characters that I also fell in love with – including the hero of ages. 

The genius I found in the Mistborn series Sanderson displayed came in the simple fact that he took the ultimate bad guy, and transformed him into one of the heroes.  I have to again use Star Wars as another reference – in the way Lucas took the ultimate bad guy (Darth Vadar/The Lord Ruler) and turned him into a good guy (Anakin Skywalker/Rashek the Terrisman), to reveal the ultimate bad guy (the Sith Lord Palpatine/Ruin), and bring ‘balance’ to the Force/balance of Ruin & Preservation. Whether or not these similarities are intentioned or not, they worked!  Combine those attributes mentioned above, and then mix them with magical elements of allomancy and feruchemistry, with political elements of a democracy vs. imperial rule, and religious overtones and the struggle and evidence of faith through the Terris Keepers and the battle of Ruin & Preservation, you’ve got a perfect mix for epic greatness.  However, I will also place Sanderson into the Evil Author’s Guild for his flair in killing many beloved characters and revealing a hidden, but pleasantly surprising, hero in the end.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

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