Mistborn: The Final Empire

I’ve mentioned quite a few times on this blog how Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors, and how the Mistborn series is one of my favorite series of books that I’ve ever read.  In a couple of the blogs I follow I’ve seen people doing group reads of books.  They read the book and then ask discussion questions to each other.  In a couple of these group reads, they’ve done books that I’ve read before.  Well, Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting a group read of Mistborn: The Final Empire.  What better reason to re-read one of my favorite series.  The idea was to read the book over the next month, with questions concerning each of the 5 sections being posted once a week.  Well, I’ve already read the book before, and I hate drawing reading a book out over that long, so I just went ahead and re-read the book already.  I will be participating in the group read questions though, so look forward to more posts about Mistborn coming up over the next few weeks.  On with the review.

Book Stats

643 pages


First book of the trilogy


Mistborn revolves around two central characters, Vin and Kelsier.  Vin is a 16 year old girl who has been living with a thieving crew in the city of Luthadel.  Her entire life she has been put down by her brother and this leaves her as a very timid person starting out the book.  She would probably have been thrown out by the thieves that she works with but she is able to use her Luck to influence events and push people towards the goal that she wants.  Because of this she has been a valuable member of the thieving crew she works for, even if no one else knows about her power and she can’t explain why it works.  Kelsier starts out nearly the polar opposite of Vin.  He is fully aware of what his powers as a Mistborn are (I’ll describe the magic system in a bit) and he is very cocky and confident in his ability to use those powers.  Kelsier makes a point throughout the entire novel of always trying to smile and be cheerful, his levity really helps what is quite often a dark novel.  Vin, Kelsier, and all of the side characters in the book are very interesting to read about and all behave realistically in their actions.  The book does a great job of showing Vin as she learns to trust the people that she is now working with after a lifetime of not being able to trust anyone.


The book is set mainly in the city of Luthadel on the world of Scadrial.  The world is quite different from our own, with huge volcano like ashmounts that constantly spread ash throughout the sky.  As a result the world is sooty and dark.  There are also the mists.  Every night the world is covered by mists which people believe will kill them if they go out in them at all.  Luthadel is a very large city where a small number of noble houses rule over the skaa population.  The basic background for the world is best summed up by the blurb on the back of the book:

  • Once, a hero arose to save the world.  A young man with a mysterious heritage courageously challenged the darkness that strangled the land.  He failed.  For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by the immortal emperor known as the Lord Ruler.  Every revolt has failed miserably.


Early in the book Vin is discovered by Kelsier and she learns that she is a Mistborn, one who has control over the mysterious power of Allomancy (more on that in a minute).  Kelsier works with a thieving crew of skaa mistings who he signs up to try and overthrow the Lord Ruler.  Although they all agree that his plan is insane and most likely impossible, they come along for the ride anyway (because if they don’t at least try, we really don’t have a story now do we?).  It’s interesting to watch as they quickly break the plan down into manageable segments and then actually set out to work on these goals.  Early on Vin is shocked by the ease of their discussion as they set out to accomplish their goals.

Magic System

This book gets a quick section on the magic system, because it’s unique and plays a large part in the overall story.  There are a group of people in the world known as Allomancers who are able to use a variety of magic powers.  There are 10 known metals in the world that react allomantically, each one granting a different power.  To use their magic, a person ingests the metal and then ‘burns’ it to unleash it’s power.  Some of the powers are increasing the user’s strength, increasing their senses, and affecting the emotions of people nearby.  It sounds very strange at first, but in practice it works out really well.


I love this book.  Even having read it before, even knowing what was going to happen, it just works.  The writing is extremely well done and it allows you to plow through the book incredibly quickly.  It was no stretch for me to read 200+ pages in a single sitting (both the first time I read the book and this time for my re-read).  One of the hallmarks of this book, and the series for that matter, is best summed up by a line Kelsier delivers, “There’s always another secret.”  And there are a lot of them in this book (and series as a whole for that matter) but they all work out and are foreshadowed enough that they all fit.  It never feels like they’re coming from nowhere.  Another thing that this book does very well (that some series struggle with) is to deliver a complete story with a solid ending while still leaving plenty of room for the sequels.


“That’s the funny thing about arriving somewhere Vin.  Once you’re there, the only thing you can really do is leave again.” – Kelsier

“Women?  Women are like… thunderstorms.  They’re beautiful to look at, and sometimes they’re nice to listen to–but most of the time they’re just plain inconvenient.” – Elend

“Belief isn’t simply a thing for fair times and bright days, I think.  What is belief–what is faith– if you don’t continue in it after failure?” – Sazed

Overall Grade

I love this book, I love this series, and I can’t recommend either highly enough.  Just go buy it.


Finally, the blogs that I follow that are also participating in the group read for Mistborn are here, they’re both entertaining blogs and I suggest you check them out.

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  1. I read the first six chapters already and am trying so hard not to read ahead. I don’t want to put it down; I’m so caught up in the story. Sanderson is fantastic; he’s able to breathe new life into conventional fantasy forms and create worlds that are unique and completely outside the norm.

    Random question… have you read Warbreaker and Elantris yet? I’m trying to decide which one to read first.

    • On Sanderson’s website he has chapter by chapter annotations for the book (I wouldn’t suggest reading them until you’ve finished the entire book however). I plan on using these as reminders of what was happening in each section before I sit and write out my responses to the questions. If you’re going to read ahead those would be very useful reminders, plus it’s really interesting to see what he was thinking when he wrote each chapter of the book.

      I’ve read both Warbreaker and Elantris. I really enjoyed both books and both do some interesting things. I’ve been sitting here for a couple of minutes trying to think of a reason to suggest one over the other, and the best thing I can come up with is to read Elantris first simply because he wrote it first.

      Also, if you had a hard time stopping at the end of the first section before going into the second, good luck stopping at the end of the fourth section going into the fifth. It’s really hard to stop reading anywhere in the last 200 or so pages of this book (Sanderson’s books have kept me up really late quite a few times, I’m talking about finishing the book at 3 or 4 in the morning).

      • Awesome. I put Warbreaker on my Kindle since Sanderson has a .pdf posted on his website for free, and I have a copy of Elantris. I’m still undecided, although I’ve had Elantris on my shelf for a while and I think it’ll be a good start. I know that once I start either they’ll be impossible to put down, and finals are coming up, but I need to read more of his books.

        Did you see that Sanderson’s releasing a new book this winter?

      • That’s kind of odd to find it there because I can’t find anything about it on his website. I also remember reading on his blog recently that he wasn’t having any novels come out this year, just a bunch of short stories. I’m also not sure why it would come out from Tachyon Publications and not from Tor, where he’s published the rest of his adult novels.

        The only problem with Sanderson’s books is that he can’t write them fast enough.

      • Ok, he did mention it on his blog and I forgot about it. It definitely sounds interesting.

      • So I started Elantris earlier today and I’m hooked. It’s interesting to see how he’s developed over time as a writer… 😀

  2. hannahrose42

     /  April 10, 2012

    I just finished this. All I can say is… thank you. Well, obviously that’s not ALL I have to say. I’ll have a review up shortly!

    • You’re welcome. It really is one of my favorite books. I have the first set of discussion questions for the group read of the book scheduled to go up tomorrow morning, check out some of the questions and answers that the various bloggers reading the book gave, it should be fun.

  1. April 2012 Month in Review « Reviews and Ramblings

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