The Final Empire
Mistborn is the name of Brandon’s epic fantasy trilogy. The first book is technically Mistborn: The Final Empire, though people just tend to call it Mistborn or Mistborn 1. The entire trilogy consists of The Final Empire (2006), The Well of Ascension (2007), and The Hero of Ages (2008). It’s a hybrid epic fantasy heist story with a focus on political intrigue and powerful action scenes. If you want a more standard review, scroll down to the news media ones. If you want to launch into the chapters, here’s a link. Read directly below for a more casual explanation in Brandon’s own words.
I came into this book with two big ideas for the plot. The first was that of a heist story, like Sneakers or Ocean’s Eleven involving a gang of gentlemen thieves who each had a distinctive magic power. I wanted to tell the story of how their different magics and abilities worked together for them to pull an incredible caper.
The second idea was to write a story about a world where the good guys lost. I wanted to take the standard fantasy story I’d read a dozen times, that of a young peasant hero who went on a quest to defeat a Dark Lord, and turn it on its head. What if the Dark Lord won? What if, in the final climactic moments, he killed the hero and took over the world?
Hence, Mistborn. A thousand years ago, the prophesied hero from lore rose up to overthrow a great and terrible evil. Only, he lost, and the Dark Lord took over and has been ruling with an iron fist for a thousand years. Ash falls from the sky in this barren land, and mists come every night, deep and mysterious. In this setting, a gang of thieves decides that the prophecies were all lies and that they can’t trust in some fabled hero to save them. They decide to take matters into their own hands, and plan a daring heist of the dark lord himself, planning to use the emperor’s own wealth to bribe his armies away from him and take over the empire.
Anyway, that’s the ‘back of the book’ movie trailer type explanation. If I talk about it more conversationally, however, the plot takes a back seat to characters. The truth is that while Mistborn grew out of my love for heist movies, it didn’t end up being much of a heist story itself. As early as the planning stages of the series, I felt that I wanted both more scope from the plot and more focus on character.
During development, the story moved further and further away from the heist. It’s still there, don’t worry, but it’s more of a backdrop now. Instead, the book focuses on Vin, a young girl who gets recruited into the team. Beaten down by a life on the streets, Vin doesn’t realize that she has the power of a Mistborn (the magic in this book, which many say is its prime selling point.) Her dynamic with Kelsier, the charismatic leader of the gang of thieves, is really what drives this novel.
The book has a little of everything for everyone. Romance, lots of action, a wiz-bang cool magic system, dark lords running amok, great visuals, and character tension. And that’s just book one.
Booklist said the following: “The Sliver of Infinity, the Lord Ruler, is the locus of religious and temporal order in a world in which the skaa are slaves or worse. Half-skaa erstwhile thief Kelsier is the only person to survive and escape the Lord Ruler’s most brutal prison, in which, however, he discovered he has the powers of the Mistborn, which are based on the internal “burning” of certain metals, all of which the Mistborn can use, while most others can burn only one. Now Kelsier plans his most daring raid ever, into the center of the palace to discover the secret of the Lord Ruler’s power. Beforehand, his band finds the half-skaa orphan Vin in another thieving crew, where she’s useful because she brings good luck. She is also Mistborn and, if she can master and learn to trust her powers, will enable Kelsier’s crew to infiltrate the nobility and possibly overthrow the status quo. Intrigue, politics, and conspiracies mesh complexly in a world Sanderson realizes in satisfying depth and peoples with impressive characters.”
Cinescape magazine said “Author of the critically acclaimed instant fantasy classic Elantris (2005), Brandon Sanderson returns with the first novel of his new Mistborn Series. After 1,000 years of oppression the memory of hope has all but faded in a mist-haunted, dust-ridden world where powerful Great Houses rule the serf-like Skaa with a cruel, bourgeois hand. In one of the Lord Ruler’s hellish prisons, however, Kelsier discovers he is one of the Mistborn, a select group of individuals with impressive, metallurgic powers. Together with a band of elite, cutthroat criminals Kel wrenches his way upwards to stage a coup of unprecedented proportions, but are his powers alone enough to topple the immortal dictator known as the “Sliver of Infinity”? Staunch fans of Elantris no longer have to defend their new favorite fantasy author; with a riveting opener to an intriguing new series Sanderson is here to stay. Be sure to check this book out.
The Romantic Times gave the book full marks and said “The characters in this book are amazingly believable. Vin is an eminently sympathetic protagonist whose development over the course of the book is beautifully and realistically delineated. The system of magic is exceedingly clever and well integrated into this complex and plausible world that Vin and Kelsier inhabit. While this is the first in a series, it’s an exceedingly satisfying book on its own, and fans of the genre should waste no time picking it up.”
More reviews and a list of foreign sales can be found on My Agent’s website
“Mistborn utilizes a well thought out system of magic. It also has a great cast of believable characters, a plausible world, an intriguing political system, and despite being the first book of The Final Empire, a very satisfying ending. In short, it’s one of those great kettle books, in which the author has thrown not merely a bone of an idea and a few potatoes of originality, but half a cow and everything in the garden. And then added seasonings. Highly recommended to anyone hungry for a good read.”
“Intrigue, politics, and conspiracies mesh complexly in a world Sanderson realizes in satisfying depth and peoples with impressive characters.”
Read the whole review on Amazon
“Staunch fans of Elantris no longer have to defend their new favorite fantasy author; with a riveting opener to an intriguing new series Sanderson is here to stay. Be sure to check this book out.”
Check out the whole review RIGHT HERE!
“[Sanderson] has created a fascinating world here, one that deserves a sequel.
The Washington Post
Like all of my books, I try to release a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ material, all of which you can get to from the Related Content sidebar, or the Library. Annotations are chapter-by-chapter musings I have written to be something like a director’s commentary for a DVD. There are also sample chapters and deleted scenes. Have a look! I think you’ll find plenty to interest you.