title: The Mistborn Trilogy (The Final Empire/The Well of Ascension/The Hero of Ages
author: Brandon Sanderson
publisher: Tor Books (2010)
genre: epic fantasy
rating: 5 out of 5 stars ★★★★★
When the big bad has already won and taken power, who will stand up to him? A thieving crew with the combined ability to manipulate metal to enhance their abilities to that of super heroes is who. They quickly discover that on their heels are darker forces than anything imaginable, and an entire religion founded on the enduring will of a single man.
the review below is spoiler free
Sometimes you encounter an author who you suspect has tapped into some unknown font of ability, such is their mastery of story telling and narrative. Brandon Sanderson demonstrates more than mere competence over the sweeping arcs of the Mistborn trilogy - these books are a work of brilliance, a shining example of the originality that still lives in the fantasy genre. By taking well worn tropes and turning them on their heads and building the story on revelations that whip the rug from under the reader’s feet, Sanderson knows how to keep you hooked, and invested, in the tale he has to tell.
The first book stands alone as an excellent tale of revolution, but it is in the latter two novels that the truth of the world Sanderson has crafted emerges. Following the enigmatic Kelsier and his thieving crew - many of whom possess capabilities that brand them as Mistborn (or Allomancers) who can tap into various metals to manipulate the world and people around them - the reader is taken into a world tiered between two peoples, the skaa who work the fields and mills, and the nobility, who play a constant game of political cat and mouse in a flurry of balls and strategic marriages. Determined to liberate the skaa, Kelsier tasks his crew with a mission of overwhelming odds: to overthrow the Lord Ruler, the one who has appointed himself God of their entire world.
To delve too deeply into the plot of the latter two books would be to spoil much of their intrigue, but the themes that run through them all are stark and evocative. Trust in one’s companions and faith in one’s religion are examined with a keen eye, and the trilogy’s multiple perspectives offer the reader a considerable amount to think over. Revolution, rebellion and the greater good all weave together complex characters who, for all their desire to do the right thing, find themselves compelled by the world around them to simply do as they must.
It is in these characters the themes are most manifest, either through quiet introspection or sudden bursts of revelation and heroism. Group leader Kelsier is arrogant, near garish, but still provides a source of comfort when he appears on the page. Wise scholar and steward Sazed, a man who travels the worlds learning of and storing data on extinct religions, finds himself called to battle both literal and figurative demons that emerge as constructs in a tainted and broken world. The book’s characters have real life breathed into them, and being able to witness their growth, their missteps, and their triumphs, feels a genuine privilege.
In size, the novels themselves may seem daunting - and indeed, as many fantasy novels are, they are huge tomes of several hundred pages - but the story zips along at breakneck pace, cramming enough lore and world building in to please even the pickiest of fantasy fans. If you’re seeking your next big read, this is it.