Review: ‘The Final Empire’ by Brandon Sanderson

The Final EmpireBlurb

“The Mists rule the night.
The Lord Ruler owns the world.

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 reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Every attempted revolt has failed miserably.

Yet somehow, hope survives. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the courage of an unlikely heroine, a Skaa street urchin, who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a Mistborn.”

About the Book

The Final Empire (published in 2006) is the first book of the Mistborn series, and was the second of Brandon Sanderson’s novels.

Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Gollancz (2006)
The Final Empire on Goodreads

My Review

The Mistborn series is set in a world called Scadrial, where ash rains from the sky, and the oppressed Skaa people toil in the fields for their feudal masters. In turn, these noblemen are carefully watched by the Lord Ruler’s other servants; the obligators and the terrifying Steel Inquisitors. It’s a rich world, explored from the lairs of petty thieves and the nobles’ lavish balls to the secret lives of the Allomancers, out in the nightly mists.

I think it was the magic system that really got me hooked. Some people are gifted with the ability to burn ingested metals with various effects. Burning pewter enhances physical abilities, granting increased strength and balance, while burning brass can soothe others’ emotions and make them more likely to do as the Allomancer asks. Most Allomancers can only burn one of the eight basic metals, but the rare Mistborn can burn all of them, as well as a few others. At first I had to slow down to get my head around everything as characters pulled and pushed on metals (by burning iron and steel respectively) to fly through the air, but once I got the hang of it the action was incredible, and each confrontation between Allomancers become a tense battle of wits.

On top of all this, Sanderson takes care to think about how everything he introduces affects his entire world. Allomancy has an effect on politics, and atium in particular (the most powerful of metals) is tied to the empire’s economy.

Of course no book is perfect, there were a couple of things that I’d have liked to be different. A romantic subplot is a little rushed, and it’s all written in modern American English (Sanderson’s stance is that it’s all translated from a fantasy language, so this makes perfect sense – fair point, but I quite enjoy the fancifulness of old fashioned English), but I still thoroughly enjoyed the story, and I was probably very lucky that I didn’t once miss my bus stop despite being very much absorbed in the world of Scadrial. The Final Empire has to be one of my favourite books, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone with even the vaguest of interests in fantasy.


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