Welcome back to this month’s book club. I won’t lie to you. Since my freshman year of high school, the book I picked has been on my bookshelf. My hesitation had less to do with the actual book and more about the author. But I’ll get into that a little later. We read Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson for this month’s book club. And if you don’t feel like reading my whole review, he’s the short of it. I loved it. (Not that surprising since it is so beloved in the fantasy community.)
Before I get into the actual review of the book, I need to talk about Sanderson. I have had the biggest reader block for anything he wrote. And I read just about anything. And I’m intimidated by the thing I love the most. Sanderson’s world-building and storylines are why you read his books. However, while good, his dialogue can feel too modern in a quasi-fantasy world setting, or I’m just being way too pedantic for my good. (It’s not you, Brandon. It’s me, I promise.)
I love world-building and inventive magic systems that aren’t derivative of Merlin-esque magic. I’ve read Dune, Lord of the Rings, and Les Misérables, and those are some of the densest world buildings put to paper. So why am I so intimidated by Sanderson? I’m so intimidated because of my commitment issues flashing their fangs into my book-reading habits. I struggle to read a series that is more than three or four books long. And Brandon Sanderson writes like he is running out of time. He writes like the world will explode if he stops typing, and it’s almost too much to bear.
According to Goodreads, The Cosmere Universe that Sanderson is known for comprises about twenty-five or so separate books, short stories, novellas, and some graphic novels. I don’t know about you, but that is a lot, and I’ve read and watched One Piece. And that is just one universe he has created which excludes forty or so other books he has written. (As I said, he writes like a man on a mission.) So it can be overwhelming to dive into his writing if you can even figure out where to start.
Mistborn: The Final Empire Review
Okay, now that I’m down scaring you with the size of Mistborn’s universe, let’s talk about the book. Like I said before, if you love worldbuilding and incredibly inventive magic systems, then Mistborn and all of the Cosmere Universe is for you. But what Mistborn does well is ease you into the universe. It’s sort of like the Iron Man of this universe. You can’t just start with Infinity War. You’ll get lost and confused in the plot. So instead, Mistborn introduces us to Sanderson’s magic system while keeping us in a comfortable plot.
Mistborn is a heist story like Ocean’s Eleven. But instead of just a typical fantasy world where all is good, and the chosen one must defeat the big evil bad guy, we are thrown into a world where that big evil bad guy already won. A gang of thieves plans to steal the big bad guy’s wealth and use it to bribe his army away and take over the empire for themselves. (This is the biggest oversimplification of a book I think I have ever written.) But what makes this book as good as it is are the characters. It feels like the overarching story that gets you to open the book initially, but the characters keep you reading. It’s kind of like One Piece in that way. We want to see Luffy become the Pirate King, but watching the Strawhats fight, laugh, and claw their way to the top makes the anime as amazing as it is.
As you read, you fall in love with the story of Vin. She gets recruited into the gang of thieves but soon learns that she has the power of a Mistborn. And as we go on this awesome journey, as we do in any fantasy world, the tension between characters, the romance, the action, and the magic all sort of wind us into these little balls of reading stress.
11 out of 11 Oceans (See what I did there? God, I’m so corny.)
Mistborn: The Final Empire is not a very big book, especially compared to some of Sanderson’s other books. It’s about 670-ish pages, and I read it in about a day. Granted, the hyper-focus was very real on that Saturday when I sat down to read it. I think I got up from my couch like three times, and none of those times were to eat something. So make sure you have some snacks, find a comfy spot, and I hope you get as sucked into the world as I did.
And if you are looking for more fantasy reads then I cannot recommend The Beginning After the End enough. And our next book club book will be American Hippo: River of Teeth, Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey