2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Highly original high magic fantasy with a brooding dark atmosphere.,
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This review is from: Final Empire: Mistborn: Book One (Kindle Edition)
The Mistborn series was recommended to me by a friend, with the uniqueness of the magic system, called Allomancy, being at the core of his sales pitch. As I was promised, Allomancy was a very cool aspect of the book. So, unlike many reviewers here, I didn't pick up Mistborn to see if Sanderson is worthy of continuing the Wheel of Time series. I have actually read the first four Wheel of Time books, and then I stopped out of boredom! From what I've seen of Sanderson, I'd rate him above Jordan.
Mistborn is set in a fantasy world, though with a dark feel and a fairly unique mythology. The realm of man is divided into the noble aristocracy and the enslaved Skaa, and this is governed by a tyrannical, god-like Lord ruler. Ash falls like rain and every night a claustrophobic mist covered the lands. With this bizarre weather, evil social system and gothic architecture, Sanderson is successful in creating a moody atmosphere that I enjoyed.
The main two protagonists are the young girl Vin and an older man Kelsier, who we meet fairly earlier in the book. Kelsier is top dog in a thieving gang who discover and recruit Vin, and then set off on Kelsier's most ambitious job ever! The relationship between Kelsier and Vin, of tutor and protege, is exploited as a plot device to teach us about the world and the mechanics of how magic works. Many members of the thieving gang are all specialists of some form of magic, with roles like "the Thug" or "the Smoker". Along with Kelsier's jovial happy-go-lucky vibe, this gives the books a bit of a heist-film feel, think Ocean's Eleven, which I felt jarred against other aspects of the book. Fortunately, the heist angle dies off through the book and Sanderson endeavours to make Kelsier seem less one-dimensional as the book progresses. However, I'm never really find Kelsier to be an engaging or believeable character. This, and the weird heist feel, are my main reasons for dishing out 4 stars instead of 5. In contrast, Vin is a develops wonderfully and really holds the book together, both in terms of plot and the readers feeling of emotional investment.
As I remarked at the start, the magic in the book is brilliant and original. There are other supernatural forces at work that I won't mention at all, except to say that Sanderson doesn't rely on many of the standard fantasy tropes. This is very much to my taste as I really dislike when fantasy or sci-fi books just recycle old ideas. Although I was not totally blown away by this book, I would certainly recommend it to fans of genre fiction and plan on finishing the series myself.