“Plots behind plots, plans behind plans. There was always another secret”
I wasn’t entirely sure what I was expecting from this book, or the Mistborn series in general. While everything that I have heard has been incredibly positive, I wasn’t 100% convinced because I usually find that when a book or author is talked about with such hype, as Sanderson is in the Booktube community, that disappointment is sure to follow. On top of that there were certain aspects that didn’t appeal to me, in particular the magic system, Allomancy, which sounded slightly absurd no matter who was explaining it. I mean, swallowing metals and then “burning” them to enhance physical and mental capabilities just sounds … silly, right? Yet, it works. The way Sanderson describes the mechanics makes it believable and watching it in action is wonderful, exciting and fun, which is exactly how I would describe the experience I had reading this book. The Final Empire is the first book in the #YearofCosmere read-a-long and the first work by Brandon Sanderson that I have read. It will definitely not be the last.
Set in a world where ash continuously falls from the sky, where heavy mists roll in at night forcing most to hide indoors in fear, and where the Dark Lord has been in power for over a thousand years, The Final Empire follows Vin, a sixteen year old girl who has grown up on the streets of Luthadel amongst beggars and thieves. The population has been split into two main sections: the noblemen, descendants of the Dark Lord’s supporters who are allowed to posess the gift of allomancy, and the Skaa who are slaves, property who are worked or beaten to death, raped and starved. Vin and her newly acquired crew walk a fine line between the two as they risk their lives to fulfil their plan to overthrow the Lord Ruler.
Sanderson’s writing style is very simple but that works well for this story. I felt that I was being shown the world through the characters as they inhabited it instead of being told through unnecessary description or the flowery prose that I tend to see so often in high fantasy. It felt like a natural unfolding and I found that I had incredibly vivid images of characters and places despite not being told too much about them. Someone in the Goodreads #YearofCosmere group pointed out that Sanderson likes to write scenes, almost building a set and lingering there as opposed to jumping around frequently and I found this technique wonderfully effective for pulling me into the world. On top of that his action sequences are some of the best that I have read and I often had to slow myself down when all I wanted to do was rush ahead, getting more and more caught up in the action.
However, it was the characters that made this book for me and Sanderson has a knack for revealing just enough information to get you hooked and then leaving you wanting more. Each character is revealed slowly to us as Vin gets to know them and I was left with the sense that there was so much left to be told, that each person had their own complete history and a wealth of experiences behind them. Not to mention that they were likeable. I genuinely enjoyed spending my time with Vin, Kelsier and their crew, which is something I find rare in books these days.
All in all, a great read and I am really looking forward to reading the next book of the series at the beginning of March.