Brandon Sanderson pt 1: The Mistborn trilogy

Reviews for the perfect introduction to modern fantasy: The Final Empire, Well of Ascension and Hero of Ages.

Brandon Sanderson pt 1: The Mistborn trilogy
This is a legacy article from my previous website

I started reading this series after hearing praise for Sanderson and his works as modern fantasy classics. I really believe if you can stick through the first 50% of book 1, then this trilogy will blow your socks off. Alternatively, if you're not a fan of long books, you may find a better introduction to the fantasy genre in the absolute classic A Wizard of Earthsea (Goodreads link). If you enjoy even longer introductions to magical systems and less action-heavy reads, you may enjoy the The Wheel of Time series.

Structure explanation

Mistborn was always pitched as a continuum of three trilogies spanning the growth of a feudal world into a technological faster-than-light spacefaring story. At the time of publication, Sanderson has published the first of these three trilogies, with books four to seven growing out of an interesting "in-between" exploration.

#1 The Final Empire

Published: 2006

Originally reviewed: 1st February, 2021

Ash fell from the sky.

Well, this book had a perfect opening Prologue and Sanderson definitely drew me into the ash-covered world of Scadrial. While the dual-protagonist perspective of Kelsier and Vin was intriguing, both on different sides of the same coin, it was the plot's sense of build-up and combination of many of my favourite things that excited me - the LOTR fellowship/ heist-style team, a metal-based magic system that is surprisingly and logically laid out early, and a class-based system with near-invincible scary villains.

As the book went on, there were definitely twists and turns that forced some great emotional development, and I was surprised at how I barely noticed the characters were growing because it felt so natural during the plot's events. However, in addition I felt Sanderson's writing style become a bit simplistic and repetitive, and knowing that this was one of his early works I couldn't rate it as a perfect 5/5. I am definitely returning to the Cosmere however and will read the sequel soon, as this first book teased a lot more of the world than just Luthadel and I can't wait to explore it!

#2 The Well of Ascension

Published: 2007

Originally reviewed: 22nd February, 2021

β€œIt's easy to believe in something when you win all the time...The losses are what define a man's faith.”

The siege of Luthadel. What a slow-moving, grand and investigative second chapter in this trilogy. 763 pages is undoubtedly a lot, but it seemed to just fly by. After what I thought was a rushed conclusion to The Final Empire, Well of Ascension picks up almost a year later and we find our team of heroes facing a wealth of new problems.

The A-plot regarding the capitol's seige by the various noble factions filling the void left by the Lord Ruler did not have much action, but there was a lot of political intrigue and interesting isolated battle moments. The B-plot follows the more magical side of things with the book's namesake, and its ending in particular left me shocked and amazed at Sanderson's subversion of genre tropes.

This book is definitely carried by its characters, Vin's doubts, Elend's growth into a king, the new Mistborn Zane and trusted kandra Oreseur. There are definitely some powerful moments in the conclusion and I was left extremely satisfied, but also wanting to take a break before tackling the huge final book. And the tragic action in that conclusion, my goodness. I was hooked.

#3 The Hero of Ages

Published: 2008

Originally reviewed: 9th April, 2021

β€œSomehow, we'll find it. The balance between whom we wish to be and whom we need to be. But for now, we simply have to be satisfied with who we are.”

Wow wow wow wow wow. I realised that Sanderson for fantasy novels is like Nolan for films in his passion, plotting, satisfying conclusions to setups and moderate theme exploration. I also understood a different reviewer's comment that he writes his characters like super heroes, albeit in this dying and destructive world.

Man, this was epic from start to finish - I loved that we were introduced to every character with a small time jump, with Elend and Spook in particular being really well-represented. In these desperate times, the remaining members of the original crew are split between two cities with very different problems, and the story juggles these alongside the tales of kandra-on-trial Tensoon and puppet-victim-to-Ruin Marsh. Like previous entries, chapters open with intriguing epigraphs that smack you in the face with clarity towards the book's conclusion.

While some twists were obvious, the logic, planning and execution behind every single turn in this story just left me shaking my head in amazement. And then there was the emotionally powerful conclusion - this book was the closest thing to LOTR: Return of the King I've felt in a long time in its epic scope and powerful character-focused perspective. Hats off to Sanderson, I've been obsessing over the dude since and will be reading many more of his books in the near-future.

#0.5 The Eleventh Metal

Published: 2012

Originally reviewed: 13th May, 2021

Short and highly fun! This 1-chapter story goes back to see Kelsier before the events of the Mistborn trilogy, and despite its length the plot gives insight to his inner struggles as he adopts the legendary image of the Survivor of Hathsin. The fluid magical action and writing style is an enjoyable return to the first Mistborn trilogy, and the setting carves out an unexplored town in the Western Dominance. Loved Gemmel and the other supporting characters as well (side note: there was a cool art preface).

Continue the Brandon Sanderson articles at the button below:

Alternatively, part 2 of the Mistborn series below:

Brandon Sanderson pt 2: Mistborn Era 2
The unplanned second set of books in the Mistborn series. Interestingly, this moves the fantasy world into the modern day with some lighter characters.

πŸ“– Thank you for reading the article!

πŸ“š As always, you can find more book reviews on my Goodreads account here πŸ˜ƒ