I guess I'm part of the cool kids' group now because I read my first Sanderson book, The Final Empire (the first book in Mistborn series).
This is a different world. The sun is red, there are no green plants. Ashfalls from the sky are regular. Nights are full of scary mists. The Final Empire, where the story is set, is ruled by an omnipotent, godlike Lord Ruler. Majority of society consists of slaves called skaa, who work for the Lord Ruler and the nobility from different Great Houses. Lord Ruler's circle of helpers includes obligators, a group of powerful officials-bureaucrats, and Steel Inquisitors, very powerful and scary creatures.
Vin is a 16-year old orphan (but of course :p), who works for different thieving groups in the capital city of Luthadel, until a group of rebels planning a revolution catches a glimpse of her, and of what she can do with her mind. Like many others, Vin has kind of supernatural powers (called Allomancy) - she can enhance several of her abilities, both physical and mental, with the help of different metals. Vin joins powers with Kelsier and his gang of rebels and together they start searching for ways to get rid of the evil Lord Ruler.
Pretty straightforward, and that's how this book is - but by no means boring. The Final Empire is very well written book. The magic system is one of the most clever and refreshing ones I've read about, and major props to Sanderson for building such a complicated system of magic, and then managing to stay well within its borders and rules (this is in my opinion one of the most challenging things for fantasy writers). Sanderson has great, imaginative mind, and the book is extremely well paced, solid from the beginning to the end. There are some clever plot twists and revelations placed skillfully in the end of the book. Plot twists tend to annoy me a lot, maybe because oftentimes they are created just for the sake of them and thus feel artificial, but Sanderson is a great story weaver and twists were good.
There are also some great finds among characters and creatures. Steel Inquisitors are probably the most intriguing for me, very powerful Allomancers or Feruchemists (a slightly different source of magic in this book). Mistwraith are strange creatures living in the mists. Lord Renoux, definitely one of my favourite characters. Among the rebel group I loved the character Sazed, a kind of a steward and collector-keeper of stories, religions and all kinds of knowledge about the world. Sazed was great, kind of feet firmly on the ground and no-nonsense, no-drama person who nicely balanced Vin at the time when she was having one of those teenage moods. I wasn't particularly fond of Kelsier, Vin's trainer and the mastermind behind the rebel group, or Vin herself for that matter. Vin was not badly written, she got on my nerves a lot, especially towards the end of the book, and it's totally believable because she was a 16-17 year old.
There are a few reasons though that keep me from giving this book maximum rating. There was nice amount of focus on Vin, Kelsier and a few other more central characters, but then we have this group of Kelsier's crewmembers, who had an important role but they blended into one vague mass of people and I could not point out the differences between them that well (Breeze, Dox, Ham, Clubs). It was kind of like the Tolkien dwarves' phenomenon from the Hobbit movies - a group of dwarves, you know they are important, but don't have much to say about each individual.
Also, the language. There is a lot of dialogue in the book and some of it can feel a bit odd (do friends really talk like that?), and also Sanderson uses a lot of dialogue to explain the concept of Allomancy and Feruchemy, which can feel a bit like dry info dump. The language is very simple, and this is not a bad thing. It's just not that much my thing.
I read this book on Kindle, but I will definitely get the physical copies of this series.
PS. There is no dragon in this book - yay.
What's the use of a book without a single dragon??? OK, I'm kidding :) But seriously, your review intrigues me, and although I haven't heard anything about this book before, I'll probably find a copy and put it somewhere close :)ReplyDelete
Sanderson's become quite popular lately I think, or at least more than he used to be. It's good high-quality fantasy which I dare to recommend.Delete
Yay. Welcome to the cool kids club. ;) I hope you had a wonderful time reading the book. It's been a more than two years since I read The Final Empire, but, as you know, I still have it in mind as one of the most outstanding books.ReplyDelete
I really can't remember the language ... which is a solid argument for it being simple enough to just breeze over it. The best thing one might say is: it's not in the way of the story telling. What I don't get is, how explaining the magic system through dialogues can be considered dry or an information dump. For me, that is the exact opposite of an information dump à la two pages of flowing text without story, characters or, indeed, dialogue. Could you clarify that for me?
Anyway, I hope Sanderson managed to intrigue you well enough to make you read the other two parts. Some of the side characters will get more screen time. And watch out for the lovable Sazed. :)
I had been planning to read it for a while now, ever since you introduced me to this book. Later I started noticing that other people are reading (and enjoying) it as well. I think it's a good way of putting it - that language doesn't get in the way of story telling.Delete
Ok let me try to explain. (What you describe as info dump is of course a lot worse and would make me a very unhappy reader.) Yes, explaining the rules through dialogue is a clever take and works most of the times, but I think there you have to have a really good balance. If needed, give out that info bit by bit, in small chunks, using dialogues or not dialogues, over a bit of stretched time. It can get dry if you have long dialogues that consist of only explanations because it can lead to reader feeling that it is not characters talking to each other; it is the author trying to explain reader the way the world works. It happened like a few times with me, and it wasn't by no means anything too bad - just in an ideal world I don't want to feel like that. It may be somewhat because I'm a very demanding and over analysing reader (and I'm not saying it to be a good thing, in fact it gets on the way a lot), so again, for most other readers it might not be a problem at all. :)
I will definitely read the other two books and I already have Steelheart on my Kindle as well!
Now that you mention it, I remember the "allomancy tutorial" chapter and yes, you are right. I remember that chapter on the one hand for the brilliant, eye-opening possibilities of allomancy and on the other hand for being a lot to stomach. Thanks for reminding me.Delete
I even remember thinking to myself that this was an excuse chapter ... Sanderson's magic system is completely new yet highly structured, so it begs an explanation especially since we, the readers, and Vin are in the same unknowing spot and Kelsier, being the mentor figure, is available for the tutorial.
It would have been pointless for Kelsier, not to give Vin that tutorial and it would have been equally pointless to leave us out of it. To get around that chapter, the whole story would have to be changed, I guess, to make information available in chunks as opposed to the tomb of knowledge that is Kelsier. Hehe, writing is hard. :)
You are right, writing *is* hard (which is why I won't even attempt :p). If Sanderson had not made the tutorial chapter, we'd probably be cursing him for not explaining the system enough - there's always something to complain about. :)Delete
You are now officially cooler than me because although I have read a Sanderson book (Steelheart), I haven't read Mistborn. I definitely want to read it though :)ReplyDelete
I think you would quite like Mistborn, Sam. I want to read Steelheart too! And if I like it then maybe other Sanderson's works as well.Delete
I've been meaning to read Steelheart, but wasn't as familiar with Sanderson's earlier books -- sounds really good though!ReplyDelete
Many people have been reading Steelheart lately and it seems to have gotten very positive feedback, so I'm quite excited to give it a go. And continue with the trilogy as well, of course.Delete
I'm a big fan of this series, although I admit that Mistborn is my favourite of the three books. I'm glad you enjoyed it!ReplyDelete
Oh, it's great you've read and loved those. The first book ended intriguingly enough for me to be really curious what's going to happen next.Delete
I haven't read Sanderson yet! I'm glad your first go with him was successful, that definitely makes me think I'll enjoy it when I finally get around to reading him. Hooray for more good fantasy!ReplyDelete
I'm pretty sure you'd enjoy this book a great deal, Sarah. :)Delete
If it's your first book by Sanderson I would say Mistborn is a fantastic place to start! I really like Sanderson and some of his more recent stuff has been excellent. One of my all time favorite books is his The Way of Kings, and lately he's been publishing some really good YA as well.ReplyDelete
I also think Mistborn series is pretty good place to start with Sanderson. The Way of the Kings has gotten a lot of buzz lately and I'm really curious about that one as well.Delete