The ‘Final Empire’, the first book in the ‘Mistborn’ trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, is set in a world of ash, mist and slavery, ruled over by the immortal Lord Ruler. The premise is that the world faced a crisis called the ‘Deepening’ and the hero who was meant to stop it failed, or he succeeded and turned out to be a bad guy. 1000 years later a small team of thieves sets out to try and defeat the Lord Ruler, the tyrannical master who now rules over the world. At the beginning of every chapter you’re treated to a few lines from the hero’s journal, and this was the part of the book I found the most interesting. You know something went wrong with the ancient hero’s journey, but you don’t know what.

Image from:

The story generally moved along at a good pace and it kept my interest all the way through. The world is well described and the reader gets a good sense of the atmosphere, with the oppression of the skaa, the struggles to live in a world where ash is constantly falling, and the night-time mist. I also liked the juxtaposition between the balls of the nobility and the life of the skaa slaves. Brandon Sanderson gives a clear impression in a few words of the nobility and the balls, and a sense of a party with lots of people around. The mistwraiths were also pretty cool.

The characters grew on me as the story went along, though I didn’t get hugely attached to any. Elend was my favourite for a little while, but by the end of the book I found him less interesting. Vin, the main character, also happened to be a type of character I strongly dislike- stubborn and stupid at the same time, to the point that she gets other people in trouble. This sort of character tends to appear a lot in fantasy books though, so presumably other people like this type and will therefore probably enjoy the book even more than I did. The most interesting character was the man who was supposed to be the ancient hero, the tidbits you get of his journey and his concerns, while also knowing how it ends really captured my imagination. Seeing some of his traits in Kelsier, was also an interesting development, as you wonder if maybe Kelsier will take the same path.

On some occasions I found the action scenes hard to understand. I got a good impression of the chaos of mistborn hurtling around, flung between bits of metal, but some of the details evaded me. Though this might have just been because I was travelling at the time – I don’t focus so well when I don’t get any sleep.

There was a surprising twist at the end that I really didn’t see coming, which I liked. The main problem of the story is dealt with at the end of the book, so it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. There are still unanswered questions, about the mistborn, the ash and so on, but I didn’t feel at the end of the story any burning need to rush out and buy the next book, even though I did enjoy it.