Mistborn Trilogy

  - Brandon Sanderson

In Mistborn, Sanderson gives us some classic fantasy, and some that's turned upside down. He brings us great characters. He creates religions and destroys them. And he conjures up some of the most brilliant and novel magic I've ever come across.

Mistborn: the Final Empire coverI've just finished Mistborn.


For the third time. This is one of the few books I return to: it's just that good.

Even among thousands of other fantasy novel's, Brandon Sanderson's trilogy is different, innovative. To explain, a few mild spoilers follow. You've been forewarned.

Ashfalls rain daily from the sky. Skaa - slaves - scrape ash from stunted plantations, a massive proletariat suppressed by a vicious nobility. A world as designed by the god-king Lord Ruler: an immortal despot ruling with passionless, devastating efficiency. Serving him are a priesthood of obligators, fierce human-like constructs called koloss, and the brilliantly-imagined, terrifying Steel Inquisitors. And the nebulous Deepness, and the Mists - two more enemies, perhaps, and equally satisfying ones.

Skaa have rebelled before, and failed. The Lord Ruler is immortal. His nobility has the power of the Mistborn, of Allomancy. Power to viciously destroy any insurrection; power to control the mind of skaa and suppress it before it happens. Sanderson enemies are wonderful, twisted, sometimes over-the-top and still real.

Most important: Sanderson's characters rule.

Kelsier - skaa thief with Mistborn powers and Messianic aspirations - is fun, smart, unpredictable. Vin, an abused, intelligent skaa girl, is the real hero. The hero, but not the fantasy cliché: she's different, intelligent, fresh. And that's true for the others, too. Great characters abound.

Mistborn has magic like nothing you've seen before. Three magical systems: Allomancy, Feruchemy, Hemalurgy. Related, yet different, with fascinating properties, powers, limits. Any one of these is as fully realised, plausible, internally consistent as anything else in the fantasy universe - and far, far more than most. (Side note: Sanderson just does great magic. Different every time. Try Elantris, or Warbreaker.)

The Mistborn world has a planetary ecology like no other, and yet, one that feels true. As do its politics, its economy, its religions, its laws of physics, its magical systems.

None of the cheapo, improbable, contrived settings that make for less-than-real fantasies. To his further credit, Sanderson brings us this world naturally, unintrusivey, without exposition. It's just real. And the characters, again - wonderful.

One more thing that raises Mistborn above the masses: it made me think.

Religions are born, rise and fall; Sanderson makes it happen. I could not help but reflect on the nature of faith and of religion; I could not help but deepen my understanding of my own beliefs. It may not do so for you.

The Mistborn trilogy is an epic fantasy. It's satisfying, smart, fun, unpredictable. Full of solid, wonderful characters. No plot cop-outs. The plot moves quickly, twists. And culminates in some great, grand finales.

This folks, is the good stuff.

Rating: 8.6


Paul's Top Ten

  1. Lord of the Rings
    J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. Name of the Wind
    Patrick Rothfuss
  3. The Deed of Paksenarrion
    Elizabeth Moon
  4. Ysabel
    Guy Gavriel Kay
  5. Malazan Book of the Fallen
    Steven Erikson
  6. Mistborn Trilogy
    Brandon Sanderson
  7. The Magicians
    Lev Grossman
  8. Harry Potter series
    J.K. Rowling
  9. Black Company novels
    Glen Cook
  10. The Magic of Recluce/The Death of Chaos
    L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

The Full List:
Fantasy Novels Ranked and Rated


Other Links

Paul's Fantasy Favorites Main

My Robert Jordan Compendium:
Weaponry and Military Costuming of the Wheel of Time

My Tolkien Page



Copyright © 2019, Ars Informatica. All rights reserved