I am a huge fan of epic fantasy, especially long, sprawling, multi-book series, and have been since childhood, so it’s a little surprising that it’s taken me so long to read anything by Brandon Sanderson (he’s been on my TBR for over 10 years). Honestly, I think the thing that finally pushed me to read one was that a trade paperback edition was released last year (I’d previously only seen it in mass market, which I hate reading, especially for longer books — I feel like they don’t open all the way). I also wasn’t entirely sure where to start with Sanderson’s work – my understanding is that he has several series and standalone books that are contained within the same interconnected Universe, at different periods of time. After doing a little research, it seems the consensus was that Mistborn (also called The Final Empire in some markets?), part of the Mistborn trilogy (which also has a second series of four books?), and also part of the overarching Cosmere Universe, was a good place to start. Not confusing at all, right!?! Fortunately, the book itself was a lot easier to understand…
Mistborn follows Vin, a street urchin of the lower class (“skaa”) who lives in the capital city of a vast empire, ruled by a powerful ageless god-like being known only as the Lord Ruler. Vin works for a thieving crew and uses her mysterious abilities to influence the moods of the people around her. She is recruited by the other main character, Kelsier, into a scheme to take down the Lord Ruler and free the skaa from their oppressors.
Vin and Kelsier are likeable characters, and once the plot gets going (I did find the beginning a little slow) this was an easy read. The metal-based magic system is unique, interesting, and very well-defined (I appreciated that there was an appendix that I could refer to when I inevitably forgot which metal was responsible for which power). I especially liked the character development that Vin goes through, starting the book with major trust issues and slowly learning that there actually are good people in the world. I’m also a sucker for an infiltration plotline, so the sections of the book where Vin impersonates a member of the nobility to spy and gain intel for the scheme was a highlight.
Overall, this was a solid fantasy adventure book that I enjoyed. In addition to the slow beginning, I did find the ending somewhat abrupt — although I suspect that my unanswered questions regarding dangling plot threads will be addressed in the sequel, which I do plan to continue with soon!