I have to admit that I started this book without any expectations at all (while I’ve since read quite a bit of Brandon Sanderson, at the time I had not known any of his work). As a big SciFi and Fantasy fan I have read many more series, authors and books that aren’t worth any further consideration but every now and then an author surprises you with the quality of their writing and their “world building” and you just completely get hooked by them. This series is one of the better ones!

There are definitely some things that aren’t complete in this series, however overall the idea, concept and completion is really well done. While generally you cannot compare books to TV shows – the concept of filler episodes/chapters definitely apply in many instances.  Fortunately this is not the case with regards to Mistborn and it is obvious that Sanderson has planned the story out from start to end and uses the words to build the middle vs. just muddling along and “seeing” where the story takes us.


Mistborn: The Final Empire

What do you do when the good guys lose?

This is the premise to the whole Mistborn series – while the Lord Ruler was meant to be the prophesied hero of the ages and rescued the world from some sort of evil – we learn in this book that in truth, the man who became the Lord Ruler was in reality NOT the one who was meant to get that power.

In Mistborn – The Final Empire the world is a dark and dangerous place. The Lord Ruler has absolute power and dominion over the land and any rebellion is put down with ruthless efficiency. It is up to a small handful of rebels to make a difference – to change the world and restore normalcy to the land. However when a god is in charge and has been for 1000 years the chances of success are small to slim.

The novel takes place mainly in the city of Luthadel and the lands surrounding it. Luthadel is a city harshly divided into an upper and lower class; a government rules with an iron fist over the nobility and the lower class “skaa”. The differences between the Nobles (those who control the power of Allomancy) and the Skaa – the slaves of the Final Empire are extremely evident in this novel and while some of the other races are covered off they are given a lot more depth in later novels where they are explored and expanded to a much greater depth. This book is primarily about the Skaa and Vin and Kelsier.

The way in which the players in the game utilize their power and “magic” is really well explored and the fact that this power is not “unlimited” but rather has limits that make sense. If the user of the magic “burns” up his or her resource, they have no more and the care, storage and “pairings” of the different elements and metals are key.

The World

The Final Empire is on a world called Scarial.  The Lord Ruler gained his power through the Well of Ascension one thousand years before the first book (The Final Empire) begins.  With the power that he gained, he changed the location of the planet in addition to rearranging the continents themselves!

The People of the Final Empire

Mistwraiths/Kandra/Koloss and Skaa

The Lord Ruler (with the power granted to him by the Well) changed the peoples of the world to not only better survive the new world (Skaa) but also to serve him in his battles (the Mistrwraiths/Kandra/Koloss) both against Ruin and also the rest of the land.

Skaa

The descendants of those that did not immediately support the Lord Ruler when he came into power, the Skaa were the servants and slaves of the Nobles in the Final Empire.  Skaa do not have Allomatic powers, however as they can breed with the Noble Classes, their children and descendants can gain these powers (both Vin and Kelsier are descendants of such unions).  While the Skaa rebelled many times over the years under the Lord Ruler, none were successful or even partially so.

Mistwraiths and Kandra

Kandra are “built” from Mistwraiths through the use of “spikes” that give them intelligence – where Mistwraiths come from in the first place is not properly explained unfortunately.  However it is clear that Mistwraiths with their ability to consume the bones of animals and creatures throughout the land and to give these bones “life” serve as a significant reason for the fear of the mists that the Skaa experience.

Kandra act as spies and with their ability to mimic anyone they are both extremely valued and feared by the Nobles of the Final Empire.  Adhering to the “contract” the Kandra realize that this is the only way to ensure that there race is not destroyed.

Koloss

Explained in the final book – the Koloss are actually humans that have been transformed by use of “spikes” and the changes that the Lord Ruler has made in the human race.  Starting at approximately 6 feet tall they grow all the way to 12 feet in height.  With superhuman  strength they are bestial in nature and are extremely difficult to control.  Koloss (like Kandra) can be controlled by strong Allomancers.

Nobles

For a small group of peoples, the Lord Ruler gave a gift – the gift of Allomancy and the power to control the elements.  This group was comprised of the early supporters to the Lord Ruler and Allomancy itself is something that can be passed down through the generations.  However, with each successive generation the ability and strength of this gift decreases.

The Magic of the Final Empire

There are three different types of “magic” at use in the Final Empire.  While some have similarities and depend on the others to work they each have their own rules and ways in which they work and don’t work.

Allomancy

The primary and most well known of the abilities in the Final Empire.  Allomancers ingest and use metals to give them their power and ability.  Each metal has a different attribute and some can be used in conjunction with others to give the user even more power and ability.

Feruchemy

Only available to people of the Terris race, Feruchemy also utilizes metals but in this case instead of “burning” the metals, abilities and knowledge are stored in the metal itself that the users utilize.

As long as a metal is in contact with the skin and the Feruchemist has stored something in it, it can be drawn upon. Only the Feruchemist that originally stored the attribute can use it.

Mistborn – can burn all of the metals

Mistings – can only burn one metal

Similar to Allomancy, each metal used by a Feruchemist has a different ability/attribute granting the wearer a different “gift”.

Hemalurgy

The third and final power of the Final Empire is that of Hemalurgy.  This power (used to create the Koloss/Kandra and Steel Inquisitors) works by driving a metal spike through a living body and stealing their “life force and abilities” which are then infused into the subject.

Only one attribute can be stolen per spike, per person, and the power or attribute gained depends on where the beneficiary is stabbed, and which metal is used.

This book was one that I took with me on a long road trip.  I expected it to last me at least half the trip, but I quickly found that this one more than the other two was one that I just could not put down.  While I was bored for the rest of my trip I was extremely satisfied with the way this book was handled and the way that all the different parts and pieces of the puzzle were eventually all pulled back together.

It is a unique feeling when reading a book, you think back upon other parts of the series and think to yourself “so that’s what that meant!” … it’s very much akin to the feeling at the end of the Sixth Sense when you look back upon all the scenes that Bruce Willis was in and go “ah hah!”.

Brandon Sanderson has definitely done that in this book.  The story of the Kandra, who the Koloss are and the knowledge of the Terrasmen.  All of it has a part to play in this book and you will definitely enjoy seeing how all the pieces fit together.

In the Hero of Ages Vin and Elend are in a search for the secret to defeat the dark god Ruin.  While Vin is the only one that really believes in Ruin, Elend’s trust in her is absolute and with his new found Mistborn powers – he is now the strongest Mistborn in the land.  However, Vin’s experience and skill with the power still makes her the stronger of the two and they are a potent partnership.

With Vin’s new-found ability to control and influence the Koloss they are able to take control of a large army of Koloss in their search for the Lord Ruler’s cache’s of food, supplies and information.

However, the Koloss are not what they seem and their influence over them is also something that they do not understand fully. Discovering the secret of Atium and its resting place is only the first part in the puzzle to defeat Ruin.

To win however they will need to call upon strengths they didn’t know they had and learn the final secret of the land of the Last Empire.