The Final Empire (Mistborn 1) by Brandon Sanderson

Stars: 3.5 out of 5.

If you can give one thing to Brandon Sanderson, it’s that he has a knack for creating unique and complex magical systems. Allomancy is a delight to read about and you can see that a lot of thought went into figuring out how this system would work and what its rules and limitations are. I love a well-thought out world where the author abides by the rules they created. It makes the world feel more real. Sure, it’s not our world, but something like that could exist somewhere.

I also like a good heist story, and what is bigger than organizing a heist to rob the supreme ruler of the Final Empire? I love the preparations and the unfolding of plans and contingencies when the original plans inevitably fail. I even liked the couple twist we had towards the end. 

So why did I give this book 3.5 stars then if I liked so many things? 

Well, a good world and plot are important for my enjoyment of a book, but I am also very character-driven. I need good characters to follow to fully enjoy a book. Unfortunately, Mr. Sanderson wasn’t very good at creating memorable characters, at least in his earlier books. No, actually, let me rephrase that, because it’s not entirely true. He wasn’t very good at creating memorable protagonists. 

Again, this is just a question of personal preference, but I really didn’t like Vin. She read a bit too much like a YA heroine for me: ball of insecurities that turns out to be a special snowflake, instalove, knows everything better than people who have years more experience than she does, etc. I mean some of the stuff she pulled with the nobility should have gotten her severely reprimanded by her crewmates at the very least. Instead they just shrug and give her a pat on the head. 

In fact, Vin’s arc was the most boring part of this book. I didn’t care about the balls, the gowns, and her budding love for the wonderful nobleman’s son. Especially since his characterization is rather weak. I honestly don’t think that putting a young boy with book knowledge and no experience in charge of reconstructing an entire empire is rather foolish.

The characters I liked were Kelsier and his gang of thieves with a heart of gold. They were “real”. They were interesting. There was criminally too little of them in the book. If we had cut out the balls and winy Vin and added more about Kelsier’s planning and plotting, it would have made a much better book, in my opinion. Then again, I don’t read YA, so any YA tropes make me burst in hives. 

As it stands though, this book made me interested in the world and eager to read the next installment to find out the answers to some of the questions that were left untold – what was the Deepness? Where do the mists come from? Why is the sun red instead of yellow now and why is ash falling from the sky? What really happened at the Well of Ascension one thousand years ago?

I want to learn about that, even if that means I will have to follow Vin once again. Let’s just hope the events at the end of this book made her more mature.

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