Title: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publication Date: 17 July 2006
Genre: High Fantasy
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 colour 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.
It’s time I make a confession – I never read a High Fantasy novel before I read The Final Empire. I haven’t even read The Lord of the Rings in its entirety, for goodness sake. I’ve always been very intimidated by the detailed descriptions and political/religious/magical systems that come with these worlds. But the hype around the Mistborn trilogy is so fervent and the fanbase is so huge that I seriously felt the pressure to read this novel. But here’s the thing about hype – it either makes a novel or breaks it. Too often people are disappointed by a novel because the hype around it gave them high expectations. On the other hand, some people read the novel and find the hype is totally deserved. I’m 100% part of the latter. But, whilst I do feel the hype for The Final Empire is valid, there was still one problem that I had with it. In the end, I gave The Final Empire 4/5 stars for its magic system, concept, and characters.
When I think of High Fantasy, I imagine a number of things – an imagined, original world, some sort of magic system, and other-worldly creatures. This novel had it all and more! But what I loved most, and what is probably my favourite thing about The Final Empire, is the magic. It’s so awesome and bad-ass and I love it! The magic system in this world is based on the Metallic Arts, two of which are introduced to us in detail in The Final Empire – Allomancy and Feruchemy. It would take quite a while to explain each of these now, but I think it would be best for the novel to teach them to you instead. It is such an intricate and unique magic system and I love how there is so much room for the story to grow in terms of the magic system alone. I found the concept of consuming different metals to access and utilise a variety of powers to be so interesting and I couldn’t get enough of it!
Another great aspect of this novel was the characters. The two main characters, Kelsier and Vin, are especially interesting because they are so complex. Kelsier is a bit distant, but also a very caring leader who wants to do the right thing. I’d say that Vin is a powerhouse, whilst still being quite a shy and awkward character. They really balance each other out well. The rest of the characters, especially the other members of the gang that Kelsier and Vin are a part of, are so much less complicated and clear-cut than Kelsier and Vin and it was quite an interesting dynamic to read.
The concept of The Final Empire really upped this novel as a whole for me, too, because it was so gripping. This novel’s concept is quite different to what anyone would expect of any High Fantasy novel. It’s a gang story, a revenge story, a we’re-going-to-take-down-the-dictator story, and so much more! I don’t want to explain the concept of this novel too much though because I think it’s better to go into it pretty blind. It plays with the High Fantasy genre so much, which made it so fascinating! Also, the world-building, magic system, and politics of the world were so detailed and different that there wasn’t a single moment where the novel wasn’t interesting or un-put-downable.
From the very first page, I wanted to love this novel in its entirety. I wanted to give it 5/5 stars and place it on my “favourites” shelf on GoodReads. But, there was a tiny detail that stopped me from doing just that – the action (or should I say lack thereof?). When there were action scenes in this novel they were so epic and awesome and I didn’t want them to end. But there were just too few moments like this. Of course, the novel led to a huge action scene at the end (which was the most intense action scene I think I’ve ever read), but other than that I can only think of one other really awesome action moment in the novel. This is a real pity because I was constantly looking forward to at least two more action scenes that didn’t come. And for a 643-page novel, you would hope there’s AT LEAST three downright awesome action-infused chapters. Maybe I’m being harsh in this regard, but the lack of action was a bit of a disappointment for me.
Overall, this was such an epic novel. It was fast-paced, fun, interesting, and so complex. It all just WORKED. The politics, magic, society, and setting all created such a different High Fantasy novel to what one might expect. Now obviously this is the first High Fantasy novel I’ve read and so I don’t have much to compare it to. My idea and expectation of what High Fantasy is like has of course been shaped by the way such books are advertised, explained, and reviewed by those who understand this genre better than me. But what I expected versus what I read contrasted so much so that this novel is surely something that stands out in the genre. Heck, even some veterans of High Fantasy would agree. This novel is pretty outstanding and I think it’s a great place to start if you’re scared to venture into High Fantasy.
HAVE YOU READ THE FINAL EMPIRE? WHAT DID YOU THINK? COMMENT DOWN BELOW AND LET’S TALK ABOUT IT! 🙂