The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

The Final Empire by Brandon SandersonThe Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Mistborn #1
Published by Gollancz on October 1st, 2009
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Goodreads

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson's intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage — Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

(First published by Tor Books in 2006)

5 Stars

I AM NOT OKAY.

I had initially rated The Final Empire 4 stars right after reading it. Forget about those. These beautiful characters have stuck with me ever since, and the book left an overall lasting impression. Hence, this absolute masterpiece of an epic fantasy deserves no less than 5 stars. The Final Empire was a little slow in pulling me in, but once I was caught up in this dark world of falling ashes, magic of metals, oppression, and power struggles, I was in. For any fantasy lover out there, this is a definite must-read.

The storyline follows a troublemaker, his young apprentice, and their crew of rebels on their quest to overthrow the God-like tyrant ruling their slowly decaying world, oppressing the weak and the pour, and maintaining a reign of fear and force.

Vin and Kelsier

Though Vin is a very distrustful girl at the beginning, Kelsier quickly disarms her with his charisma, his compassion, and his protective behaviour. Kelsier truly lives for trouble, tries to shatter a pillar of the governmental construction of the Final Empire whenever he finds an opportunity, and is therefore more than deserving of the title of a troublemaker. Kelsier is a fascinating character, constantly on the balancing edge between careful scheming and reckless impulsivity. As a fleshed out character with a captivating personality and a heart-wrenching backstory, Kelsier won over both Vin and me with his air of mystery, trouble, and loneliness. The relationship between Vin and Kelsier is that of apprenticeship, friendship, and also sort of a father-daughter relationship. Kelsier gives her a purpose, and Vin thrives.

And then, of course, there’s that intense scene in the last third of the book which – without wanting to be overdramatic – seized my heart, smashed it against the wall, shattering it to millions of tiny pieces that will never be whole again. I’ve had time to collect myself to write this review BUT I AM STILL NOT OKAY.

Vin and the crew

These precious lunatics are a lovely group of rebels, thieves, and tricksters come together. They’re – as you might have guessed – all insane and continuously joke about it, too. I loved every single one of these misfits: wise Sazed, muscle-packed Hammond, self-absorbed Breeze, serious Dockson, grumpy Clubs, and gangly Spook with his unintelligible street slang. Vin has differing relationships with each and every one of them. They’re an adorable little family. Most of all, I adored Sazed with his calm nature, fierce loyalty, and grand knowledge of past religions and practiced faiths. Probably closest to Vin due to his tutoring, Sazed’s chapters and interactions with Vin were most enjoyable and endearing. Sanderson put together a cast of diverse and fleshed out characters who felt like real people to me as only the best books manage. Writing likeable characters is not an easy task, but it’s a true craft to make your readers love the characters so much, you’d break apart if anything happened to them.

Vin and the heist

Of all the possible plots in a fantasy, I love heists with a substantial rebellion and a personal vendetta the most, and The Final Empire offers just that. The crew’s task is “simple”: Overthrow the Final Empire. Build an army from scratch. Neutralize the enemy’s army and guards. Shatter the economic stability. Turn the noble houses on each other in an act of self-destruction. Dethrone the Lord Ruler (more on him in a bit). So yes, it’s really not that difficult, which is why this book is only 600 pages long, am I right? Sanderson – a master of high fantasy and expert in his genre – pulls off some of the most epic schemes and action-packed, magic-driven ambushes I have ever seen.

Vin and the Lord Ruler

If you have been searching for a book with a complex God-like antagonist, search no further. I will refrain from calling the Lord Ruler a villain, because it is visible through his greyish portrayal that he is not merely evil, just… misguided? You will have to discover this for yourself, as more and more detail come to light about the infamous Lord Ruler and his true nature. What I also enjoyed was that this wasn’t one of those books with an antagonist you never actually get to see. Vin battles soldiers, Obligators, Steel Inquisitors (I promise you, they’re creepy), wretched noble girls, and prepares for the ultimate fight against the target himself. Vin definitely isn’t spared in this book – from violent attacks to narrow escapes – and is constantly tested, and I loved seeing her in action, both in failure and success.

Vin and romance

The romantic subplot is a wonderful addition to the main storyline, exerting a noticeable influence on Vin’s character growth, her view of the world, and her assessment of the crew, especially Kelsier. Subtle and sweet, Vin discovers the blossoms of first love in most unexpected circumstances. Though I cannot spill who it is, let me tell you that these two adorable lovebirds will capture your hearts with their sweet and slow burn romance. View Spoiler »

Vin and the world-building

Sanderson’s imagination is amazing, and I am in complete and utter awe. The concept of magic involving metals, namely the ability to burn metals inside the body like a source of energy (increasing hearing, eyesight, healing, etc.) is absolutely mind-blowing and unheard of. The unique magic goes hand in hand with the complex, detailed realm Sanderson has created, which is rich with all kinds of wonders: The ashfall, the Mists, the Kandra which form by digesting corpses, the Koloss, the Obligators and Steel Inquisitors, the landscapes, and the society divided into commoners (called skaa) and noblemen. He has planned every single detail of his world and brought them to life through his vivid writing.

However, there is the matter of pacing. The first third of the book serves an introductory purpose, which is fine since the world is so complex, but the first half is quite slow. Also, I have an aversion against page-long descriptions and <i>The Final Empire</i> is the Queen of Descriptions. I appreciate Sanderson painting the scene richly but, oh, a person standing on a roof and looking down on a city can only interest me for so long. While the book seems tedious at first, and it really did take me a while to get invested in the story, the plot picks up around the middle and is a firework of action and tension onward.

Just Vin

Vin undergoes an amazing character development throughout the book, which is one thing I regard as an absolute necessity in any good book. I want to see transformations in the fictional characters I read, and Sanderson delivers not just Vin’s growth but that of the whole crew. The shy, distrustful, and skinny girl transforms into a fierce, loyal, and confident young lady. As a street urchin, Vin’s thoughts mainly focused on survival. As part of the crew, she’s confronted with questions about morals, belief, right and wrong, and loyalty. Where other members had their mind set, she was so much more open-minded and critical of their views, even though that may have meant also being a bit more naive, but I loved that about her. Though she has her place among the rebel group, Vin never completely loses her distrust, which makes her a truly realistic and relatable heroine.

This might just be one of my most extensive reviews ever.

Have I mentioned that I’m still so, so, so not okay?

mulan photo: Mulan 6_zpsbfec9b22.gif

3 Comments

  1. WoahI Didn’t know you and Chantal had your own blog!! Also, interesting that although you lived in the same country you hadn’t known about each other’s existence until GR – proof that you can actually make great friendships through there! Btw, great review! It’s been a long time since I want to read a Sanderson book, but unfortunately I haven’t had the time. :/

    • This is Nina’s review and I should technically let her answer but I can’t help it: Vane!! So happy you found us! Yes, the blog is super new, we only launched two weeks ago 🙂 I can honestly say that meeting Nina was one of the happiest coincidences of my life, truly proof that books bring people together. As to Sanderson, his books definitely aren’t the first you pick up when you’re really busy, but I do love them. Which ones have you read?

      Are you still blogging? I’ve been checking in on your blog from time to time and didn’t see anything new. Do you manage with all your work?

    • nina

      September 25, 2016 at 9:37 AM

      Hi Vane! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! We’ve sent out multiple notifications on social media to announce our blog, so if you haven’t seen any those, it makes me all the happier than we’ve somehow managed to reach you nonetheless.

      Chantal and I don’t just live in the same country but actually 30 minutes from each other, so meeting online has been – as Chantal said – one of the happiest coincidences of our lives 🙂 I will also have to agree with Chantal on Sanderson not being a snack-inbetween kind of book. His books are huge, descriptive, and complex, so I recommend you find some stress-free times to read his Mistborn series, which we both absolutely recommend! Sanderson is hands down one of the best fantasy authors out there, crafting the most imaginative and detailed realms and characters you can root for.

      Hope all is going well for you in your chemistry studies and overall life! We’d love to hear more from you, so please check by regularly to catch up with us 🙂

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