Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Aug 5, 2006


Before I began this blog, I reviewed Brandon Sanderson's first book, Elantris, on Frankly, it was campy; a 2.0 at best. When I spotted Mistborn on the shelf at the bookstore, I didn't know what to think. It sounded interesting, but Sanderson's first book was such a let-down. Still, some of my favorite authors write bad books occasionally, so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I'm glad I did, because Mistborn, by contrast, is good.

The story follows the work of Kelsier, a legend of the underworld, as he undertakes his greatest heist ever: stealing the government. In the dreary, ash-smothered Final Empire, he assembles a crew and uses his magical abilities to further his cause, adopting a young protege to go where he cannot.

As a caveat, though, there are a great many traditional fantasy staples in this book, the first of a projected trilogy. The "magic system", dubbed Allomancy for its reliance on ingested metals, which is explained in great detail. The strangely distorted landscape. The hideous and frightening monsters. The made-up slang. I've reached the point where I find the development of an imaginative and detailed setting to be of very little importance in a novel, and that is a point that Sanderson seems to enjoy dwelling upon. I think my changed preference reflects the fact that there's nothing to think or draw conclusions about in such flights of world-building; you can only passively absorb because it bears no connection to reality, kind of like mathematicians trying to imagine a four-dimensional "cube". I don't find much of value in absorbing things in order to say "that's neat" and move on.

It's still very much Sanderson's writing style, which is fine because style wasn't the problem with the original so much as tone and some awkwardness with the plot. In Mistborn, the goofy, bouncy characters are completely fitting--it's a gang of thieves, after all! The awkward politics make perfect sense as well, since the involved parties are supposed to be politically naive in the first place. There's excellent foreshadowing of future books, but the important points are wrapped up neatly in the climax.

I look forward to the next book eagerly.

Rating: 3.5

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