Monday, March 19, 2012

Guest Review: “The Final Empire” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor/Gollancz)

Reviewed by Shevaun

Sanderson-1-FinalEmpire

The first novel in Sanderson’s popular Mistborn series

What if the Dark Lord won?

A thousand years ago, evil came to the land and has ruled with an iron hand ever since. The sun shines fitfully under clouds of ash that float down endlessly from the constant eruption of volcanoes. A dark lord rules through the aristocratic families and ordinary folk are condemned to lives of servitude, sold as goods, labouring in the ash fields. But now a troublemaker has arrived and there is rumour of revolt. A revolt that depends on a criminal that no-one can trust and a young girl who must master Allomancy – the magic that lies in all metals.

A well imagined story-verse, with well-realised and rounded characters. I like my heroes to be a little bit more human, and Sanderson’s protagonists are nicely ambiguous, their motives and desires pleasantly (for the reader) unclear. Sanderson has created a new mythology that is rich in detail without being overly confusing, a common problem in fantasy.

The story follows Vin, a street girl who discovers she is an Allomancer, able to use magic derived from metals, and her efforts to learn to use her powers as she is drawn into plots and politics at all levels of a dark and dangerous world. Sanderson puts practical limitations on magic use early on in the story, and uses these limitations to enhance and drive the story, and if he was tempted to make his character omnipotent in order to get out of a hole, it doesn’t show.

I can’t go too much into the plot because it will give away many of the twists and turns, but suffice it to say that the story is rich in detail, love, betrayal, intrigue and, of course, magic – all interwoven to create a wonderfully detailed and fast-paced epic.

From plantations to slums to the highest palaces, we explore this world with its characters and I came to love it and them, warts and all.

As a reader, I was delighted that the trilogy is now being re-released, because I was able to order the other two in the trilogy immediately without having to wait a year for the next instalment. I can’t wait to read on and look forward to the rest of the story with bated breath.

Highly recommended.

The Mistborn Series: The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages, The Alloy of Law

[I hope to read and review this at some point, too. If only I had the time! – Stefan]

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