Book Reviews

The Final Empire (The Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson – Book Review

The Final Empire (The Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson – Book Cover

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – Book Details

TITLE – The Final Empire

SERIES – The Mistborn Saga, book #1

AUTHOR – Brandon Sanderson

GENREfantasy, high fantasy, young adult, adult, heist



MY RATING – 4 of 5


Initial Thoughts

Let me tell you all the facts I knew about The Mistborn before reading it, since each and every one made me think this might end up being one of my favorite books ever written:

  1. The Mistborn Saga was written by Brendon Sanderson, one of the best fantasy and sci-fi authors and the man who has created one of my favorite characters ever – Spensa Nightshade.
  2. BookTubers, bookstagrammers, book bloggers and the rest of the bookish community have been raving about it for years and years.
  3. The story follows a group of thieves, and heist is one of my favorite tropes.
  4. It has a really cool magic system that is somehow based on metals.
  5. I just realized I can’t tell you the fifth one because it is kind of a spoiler. But I knew about it before reading the book, and – it had made me really, really excited about the read. 🙂

And because of all of that, The Mistborn was one if the stories I was looking forward to reading the most. If I understood well, the series technically has 7 books, although it is really 2 series – two completely different stories set in the same world.

The Final Empire is the first book of the first trilogy. I will most definitely be reading all three of those. The second trilogy – we’ll see. I mean, the man writes a lot, and I also plan to read The Reckoners, and The Stormlight Archive, and those are humongous…

So yeah, of course I’d love to read everything Brendon Sanderson’s ever written, but let’s be realistic for a second…

What The Final Empire Is About

“Our best efforts were never even a mild annoyance to the Lord Ruler.”
“Ah, but being an annoyance is something that I am very good at. In fact, I’m far more than just a ‘mild’ annoyance – people tell me I can be downright frustrating.”

It has been a thousand years since mists and ashfalls and the red sun had wiped out all the flowers and green leaves from the world. A thousand years during which the menacing, invincible Lord Ruler reigned with an iron fist.

A few rebellions have been smashed before they even began. The Skaa have forgotten how to fight or think or feel. They just exist.

But hope is the hardest to kill. And in the darkest moment of his life, one man has found hope, as well as access to his magical abilities.

Now, he is leading a group of skillful allomantic thieves into what’s supposed to be an impossible task. If they succeed, the whole world might become a better, brighter place. But, as Kelsier is well aware:

“The trick is to never stop looking. There’s always another secret.”

The Final Empire (The Mistborn Saga #1) – My Review

The first book in The Mistborn Saga for me mostly went as I expected – there were a few things I didn’t like, but the parts that were good were done so well, they really made up for the weaker parts. Plus, there were many more great than not so great things about this book.

The characters were done well. They were nicely fleshed out and felt relatable for the most part.

I really liked the crew and their friendship, especially as a contrast to Vin’s suspicious nature – brilliant.  I loved the banter and just how obvious it was that they love each other.

“Too proud to crawl?” Kelsier said. “Nonsense! Why, I’d say that we Mistborn are too proud not to be humble enough to go crawling about – in a dignified manner, of course.”

But at the same time, I didn’t get that special connection kind of thing with any of them (like I did with Spensa, for example). Still, I liked them very much and there’s time to get to know them better in the following instalments.

And I liked the world building overall. Sanderson created this dark, ruthless world where a lot of shady things are going on and not everything is as it seems. And the mists and the ashfalls really accentuated that mysterious, uncertain, gloomy atmosphere.

The magic system was interesting and effective. It wasn’t very deep or complicated, but I thought it was really well defined. There were clearly defined abilities, limitations and consequences. It was very clear that controlling such powers would require a lot of practice and caution.

As usual, Brandon Sanderson did an amazing job of explaining technicalities. He always hits that perfect spot where you can follow the story with no problem without drowning you in unnecessary details.

“Every action we take has consequences, Vin,” Kelsier said. “I’ve found that in both Allomancy and life, the person who can best judge the consequences of their actions will be the most successful.”

There were many clichés we saw before in terms of tropes and plot twists. But, Sanderson changed those things a bit and made them feel new and exciting. They were essentially the same things, but done a bit differently and done well.

We got the master-apprentice trope, which I really liked and I wish we got more of it. There was also a bit of a special snowflake thing going on there, which I know many people don’t like. Personally, I was fine with that.

I also really liked the ending. Specifically, I liked that The Final Empire doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. The good chunk of the story is finished and you have a sense of a proper ending. But at the same time, there were enough teasers to make you kind of sort of guess where the story might go from there and to make you wanna pick up the second book.

“Men like you preach change, but I wonder. Is this a battle we can really fight?”
“You’re fighting it already, Goodman Mennis. You’re just losing horribly.”

One of my main problems I had with this book was the fact that I wasn’t all that convinced that this Lord Ruler really was such a badass. And the reason for that was – in the beginning, when Kelsier presented his supposed-to-be crazy, suicidal plan to the crew, they all agreed to it too easily.

For someone to rule over the whole world for a thousand years, getting into his home and his treasury should be impossible, period. And the reaction of the crew when they first heard about the plan didn’t give that impression.

“We’re thieves, gentlemen—and we’re extraordinarily good ones. We can rob the unrobbable and fool the unfoolable.”

It doesn’t matter how tempting the reward is if you are sure you won’t live to enjoy it.

And I don’t care how amazing thieves they all were – only all of them saying no at first could have convinced me that this heist really was all that impossible. They should been terrified just because they’d witnessed that meeting.

One of them even said:

“The high nobility are growing increasingly powerful – the Lord Ruler barely has control over them anymore.”

Can you imagine someone saying this about Voldemort?

If Sanderson wanted to make this a thousand-year-old almighty evil ruler truly believable, this heist shouldn’t have been a job for the masterminds, but for the desperate. Well – the desperate who happen to have one or two tricks up their sleeves.

Only if they had refused at first, then changed their minds because, say, Kelsier had some leverage over each of them, would I believe that this bad guy really was that dangerous.

But at least he managed to convince me just how high the stakes were as the story progressed. Towards the end, he even made me seriously question if I really wanted to see what will happen to all those nice people.

Other than that, my biggest problem with this book was that, though I liked the story quite a bit, it didn’t have that wow factor I was expecting.

I think this book was a bit too hyped up for me. If someone had told me it sucked, now I would be like – what are you talking about, it was amazing! But since my expectations were so high, I ended up liking it, but not as much as I had thought I would.

But, I’ve heard that a lot of people enjoy this book more on a reread. And I can see that. Just because it’s got to be easier to follow along once you know the basics about this world. Plus, there is also so much of the foreshadowing you don’t pick up on when reading it for the first time.

“I am the one thing you can never kill. I am Hope.”

All in all, I gave this book strong, solid 4 stars after the first read. So, I’d definitely say it is worth picking up.

Sanderson has created something wonderful here – a story that gets better and better the more you think about it. Though I had issues with it, I have high hopes for the rest of the trilogy. I’m sure it will end on a high note and I’m looking forward to getting there.

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