Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Review: Mistborn


Genre: Fiction/Epic Fantasy
Published by: Tor Fantasy
First Publication Year: 2006 
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Back Cover Summary:
Once, a hero arose to save the world. A young man with a mysterious heritage courageously challenged the darkness that strangled the land.
He failed.
For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by the immortal emperor known as the Lord Ruler. Every revolt has failed miserably.
Yet somehow, hope survives. Hope that dares to dream of ending the empire and even the Lord Ruler himself. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one built around the ultimate caper, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the determination of an unlikely heroine, a street urchin who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a Mistborn.
MISTBORN was a novel that, admittedly, I thought I would find little interest in. Having read only part of Sanderson’s debut novel,  ELANTRIS (2005), and finding his slightly passive writing style and descriptions a little difficult to follow, I was pleasantly surprised at how well MISTBORN turned out, how much I enjoyed it.
Part one of a trilogy, MISTBORN thrusts the reader into a world full of political unrest, a world run by an oppressive figure known as the Lord Ruler—and, amid it all, those who are beneath the nobility—slaves and criminals. It is within this lower class we meet the charismatic criminal mastermind, Kelsier, and the quiet street urchin, with strange powers, Vin. Along with other allies, these two must band together to begin a rebellion to free the world of its ruler and begin anew.
The summary on the back of the novel does not do it justice. Sanderson has crafted a world as complex and detailed as its unique magic system. And yet, surprisingly, the magic system is so simplistic. The magic of Allomancy—burning metals such as steel, pewter, copper and gold to enhance the wielder’s body and defenses—was one I had never seen in a novel, and was well-integrated into the world-building. In a way, it was a refreshing twist.
Another point I have to congratulate Sanderson on is his skills with character. Though, at first I dreaded his use of a prologue, I was surprised at how he pulled me in with the mysterious and always-smiling Kelsier. How the world seemed to suck me in. And then, how I was curious about the quiet but stubborn Vin. Throughout the novel, I found myself hooked to the story—if not for the interesting subtle class elements, the magic system, or the strange legends within the world—then for the characters. They shone with their own wit and charm and were distinctive, with quirks and sympathies and detailed backgrounds, enriching the world with culture and distinctness. If I had to pick a favourite character...definitely Kelsier. He made me laugh. And he was definitely a hero, an excellent mentor for Vin. Another favourite character was Lord Elend Venture. I won’t spoil his purpose, but he was quite…endearing, the way he would rather read and study then dance at balls. Definitely my type of character.
The subtle message of friendship and trust that Vin and Kelsier talk about and show throughout the novel—within a world where trust is futile and friendship could get you killed— was also well done, and created—for me—a sort of emotional connection with the story, with the cast, that had me wondering if this rebellion would succeed or not.
This novel being only the first of the trilogy, I know the adventure has just begun and I am excited to continue on. I plan to review the whole trilogy, so on the next available date, look for my review on book two: THE WELL OF ASCENSION. 
Would I read this again: Yes.
My rating: **** (four stars)
I rated this novel four stars because, although it was a compelling read, Sanderson’s passive writing style (which was a small thing that could have been fixed), and the lack of strong ending hooks throughout most of the book (again, a small thing), left it just short of a full five star rating.
Would I recommend this first novel? Yes. Definitely. If you enjoy fantasy with a unique magic system, compelling characters and detailed yet subtle world-building, I’d pass this trilogy on wholeheartedly. You won’t be disappointed.

5 comments:

  1. This sounds like exactly my kind of book, and what a great review, Maddie. Good that you put in parts you didn't like as well as those you did. I believe a writer should tell both sides, not just what they enjoyed about a book. Can't wait til your review of WELL OF ASCENSION, and I can't wait to dive into this one!

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  2. This book sounds awesome! I've read some pretty crummy reviews but you did this so well...I'm sold. Lol. Hmm, now I'm going to have to pick it up from the library and have a peek.

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  3. I'm going to read this next week :) You got me hooked just by the review.

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