As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

May 22, 2011

MISTBORN by Brandon Sanderson, 2006

Mistborn : Final Empire Series (Book #1) (Mistborn, Book 1)For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the "Sliver of Infinity," reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler's most hellish prison. Kelsier "snapped" and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Megan Hutchins

Vin, our street-urchin heroine, is recruited into a top-rung thieving crew because of her magical aptitude. Their enigmatic leader isn't just planning to rob someone blind: he's going topple the Final Empire. But the Lord Ruler isn't some spoiled aristocrat. A thousand years ago, he was the hero of prophecy that was supposed to save everyone -- and failed. In short, Ocean's Eleven takes on Frodo-turned-immortal-tyrant. Pass the popcorn, please.

The Final Empire is a grim realm where the non-noble skaa live like slaves. Prostitutes are routinely executed to prevent half-nobles from being born, as noble heritage can bestow magical aptitude. Even the plants are dour: ash falls from the sky, only allowing sickly, brown crops.

Despite the bleak background, Sanderson manages to paint in glimmers of hope, humor, and a determination to fight against the odds. A lot of this comes from Vin, transforming from a paranoid girl to someone who can operate in a crew that actually trusts each other.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the magic in this book. It's completely unique -- based off of burning metals for a variety of effects. I loved that I could understand what magic could and couldn't do. It was like an exotic set of physics. The fight scenes (there are many) are the most cinematic of any I've read, and because I knew exactly what Vin could or couldn't do, I bit my nails through every one of them, knowing she couldn't just wish wounds away.

The Hero of Ages: Book Three of MistbornThe Well of Ascension (Mistborn, Book 2)I'm also thrilled to report that the rest of the trilogy, The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages will not only develop your biceps carrying them around (I couldn't put any of them down), but they're just as thrilling as the first.

Market: Adult Fiction
Language: Mild
Sensuality: Mild. Apart from mentions of prostitution, there's not much here.
Violence: Moderate, maybe a notch more. There's a good bit of stabbing.
Mature Themes: Death, religion, poverty

Book formats:

To learn more about the author, visit: Brandon Sanderson


Anonymous said...

I love a good fantasy series...and I'm half-ashamed to admit that I've never read these books! Don't worry--it will be remedied. Soon!

I'm especially fascinated by the magic you talk about, Megan. I recently finished Patrick Rothfuss's second book in The Kingkiller Chronicles (THE WISE MAN'S FEAR), and it has this "believable" kind of magic--a kind that seems almost scientifically believable. SO COOL.

Anyhow, MISTBORN and the other books in this series sound amazing. I'm adding them to my To Read list (and requesting them from my library!) right now!

MKHutchins said...

All of Brandon Sanderson's books have awesome magic systems in them, so if that fascinates you, Elantris, Warbreaker (which is available online for free through his website --, The Way of Kings, and his Middle Grade series, Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, are all excellent reads. Well, they're excellent anyway, but Brandon's made a name for himself by developing amazing magic systems.

Anonymous said...

I did read ALCATRAZ, and I loved it! Brandon Sanderson is FUNNY!

Shelby said...

It doesn't sound to different from a lot of YA material. Seriously, I've picked up (but never, ever read) books with more sensaul cover flaps.