Series Review: Mistborn (The First Trilogy)

December 19, 2019

Thanks to the fact that Kristin suggested we read it together, I finally got around to reading my very first Brandon Sanderson novel this year: The Final Empire. This is the first book in the Mistborn series, a series that I’ve heard so much about over the years and had the inkling I was going to enjoy – and I was proven right. It’s a story that combines a heist and spy plot (which I’m partial to) with a revolution plot (which I’m not always into, but in this case, I really liked it). What really cemented my enjoyment of the story, however, was the cast of characters that come together to form the core group that embarks on this massive undertaking. I was particularly interested in both our main narrators: Kell, the mastermind behind this plan, and Vin, the orphan he trains upon realizing she shares his specific abilities. They were such interesting characters to follow, and seeing the story unfold from start to finish was so compelling (and it surprised me with the ending too, which went in a direction I didn’t expect). The two things I didn’t particularly love were the romance (underdeveloped, and not entirely necessary, in my opinion) and the writing (which was a little sparse for my personal tastes). But even with my reservations, I still really enjoyed The Final Empire, and definitely knew I was going to continue the series.

There is a brief time jump (about a year) before the start of the sequel The Well of Ascension, and our protagonists find themselves backed into a corner. Our erstwhile team of misfits are maintaining their precarious hold on the city, but they are besieged on all sides by those looking to claim the city, the atium supply or the lives of others and must figure out a way to survive all that while keeping their power in place. There is a lot of political maneuvering in this novel, complete with demonstrations of power, clever (but dangerous) strategy, and ever-shifting alliances. This isn’t normally my cup of tea in fantasies, but because it’s set in the world of Mistborn, I was really invested in how it would all unfold. There is so much these folks have to face, and Sanderson definitely does not hold back when it comes to the highs and the lows of the choices they are forced to make, the obstacles they have to face and the relationships that continue to develop between many different individuals. It’s particularly great that this second book has equally distressing high stakes to the first; it doesn’t fall into the trap of becoming a book that exists solely to set up the finale of this trilogy. While I still find that I’m not overly fond of Sanderson’s writing style, I did really enjoy diving right back into the Mistborn world and was eagerly anticipating what would happen in the next book after I reached the end.

The Hero of Ages is the final novel for the first Mistborn trilogy, and it is a very, very good conclusion that succeeded in giving me a greater appreciation for its predecessors. I was really surprised by how fervently I ended up loving this book! I’d enjoyed the previous two, as you can see, but something about this story just hit me so hard. It’s the emotional and storytelling payoff working in tandem, I’d say, that truly impressed me. Sanderson really brought together details from the first two novels in a way that felt completely logical (and a lot like “I should have seen it coming, but you totally pulled one over on me”). He also managed to capture my feelings by putting the big cast of characters that I’ve come to care for into situations that felt so hopeless and impossible, where I feared for their lives and wasn’t sure what to make of their choices (since there wasn’t any real right choice to be made). It was a hard book to read because it’s dark days for Vin and the gang, but I promise every single one of you that it will be worth reading it all the way to the end.

The Final Empire was published on July 25, 2006 by Tor Books.
The Well of Ascension was published on August 21, 2007 by Tor Books.
The Hero of Ages was published on October 14, 2008 by Tor Books.

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