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The Final Empire (2006)

The Final Empire (2006)

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4.4 of 5 Votes: 2
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076531178X (ISBN13: 9780765311788)
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About book The Final Empire (2006)

A masterpiece in every way, Mistborn - The Final Empire doesn't just rise to the top of the fantasy genre, it actually redefines it!The history books of the Final Empire tell of a battle that took place over 1,000 years ago, when a prophesied hero defeated a threat known only as The Deepness and gained the powers of a god to be come the Lord Ruler. However, the people of The Final Empire know better! They know that the omnipotent Lord Ruler that now dominates them all is no hero or god, but rather an abomination who enslaves and brutalizes most of his subjects in order to ensure that no one could ever gain enough power to over throw him. After 1,000 years of defeats, most of the enslaved people known as the skaa have lost the will to rise up against or even resist their cruel dominator. But then again, most people are not Kelsier...A thief and con artist, Kelsier believes he has finally found the proverbial crack in the Lord Ruler's seemingly indestructible suit of armor! And since the Lord Ruler has done everything he can to make the world one without heroes, Kelsier realizes that it will take a villain to save the people of the Final Empire. With a multi-layered plan and a gang of like-minded criminals, Kelsier is convinced he finally has the means to destroy the Lord Ruler and free the enslaved skaa. And possibly his greatest asset in this coming war will be his newest recruit, a teenaged girl named Vin. Vin believes she's just a common thief, but Kelsier learns that Vin is really a Mistborn, someone who can receive specific magical abilities from several different types of metals. Vin reluctantly joins Kelsier's cause, even though she suspects he may be a madman...and she may very well be right! After all, only a madman could believe he could possibly overthrow a god!A gang of rogues embark on an impossible quest to defeat an unstoppable foe...When I give a book five stars, it's for one of two reasons. Most of those perfect-score books fall into the first category, in which I gave it five stars simply because I enjoyed it the entire time I read it. These books may still have flaws, and they may lack in some areas, but as long as the author can keep me entertained throughout, a book can still get a perfect score even if it's not actually perfect. But then there's the rarely achieved second category, which I call the game-changers. These are the books that not only entertain me, they astonish me! They are so good, that they rejuvenate my love of reading and reaffirm my faith that the best authors can weave an absolutely magical tale. I'm happy to report that The Final Empire is such a book, one that will stay with me forever!Almost immediately, I was sucked into Brandon Sanderson's unique world. Every chapter begins with a quote which gives some insight into past events. While some authors make the misstep of revealing the book's backstory via clumsy exposition, Sanderson makes a brilliant move, revealing some pieces of it gradually throughout the chapter introductions, while also revealing the more significant events in conversations between Kelsier's gang of con artists and their newest member Vin. The more Vin learns of the history of her world, the more devoted she becomes to Kelsier's mission. Using this writing method, the story feels much more cohesive and organic than if Sanderson had simply revealed most of the backstory in one chapter. While the backstory is very compelling, the main story is even more so. While I've read other fantasy tales where the heroes want to save the world, I've rarely wanted to see a world saved as much as this one! The history of the skaa is absolutely heartbreaking, with some characters revealing the terrible atrocities that have been committed against them and their loved ones. Some of the skaas' tales of hardships and injustice are so sad, they will bring tears to the eyes of even the most stoic of readers. Another powerful theme explored throughout the story was the inequality between the skaa and the ruling noble class. When Vin infiltrates the world of the nobles as part of Kelsier's master plan, she is astounded to learn that they are not all as cruel as she would have imagined. Some of them are quite charming, and a few even do consider the well being of the skaa. Instead of simply adhering to a "nobles-bad, skaa-good" formula, Sanderson does inject some humanity into the noble side, which makes the hypocrisy of some of their actions that much more startling. Indeed, the "nobles-vs-skaa" conflict was one of the main reasons why I found that I wasn't just reading this book, I was absolutely feeling it! Another strength of Sanderson's world-building is not just in his masterful way of telling the story, but also in it's originality! Let's face it, if you pick up a book off the fantasy shelf, there's at least a 90% chance that an elf, dragon, or wizard will show up (usually all three). But Sanderson's world is utterly different than everything I've read before! Instead of falling back on the ever-reliable fantasy tropes of dragons, the people of The Final Empire whisper terrifying tales about bizarre creatures known as Mistwraiths, and try to avoid the all-seeing glare of the Steel Inquisitors, grotesque royal enforcers with steel spikes for eyes. Even the overall story of the book is a departure from the usual fantasy quest. While most fantasy books feature the heroes searching for some magical item or going off to fight an enemy directly, Kelsier's plan is far more complex. The main "quest" of this book comes in the form of a giant con, one which seeks to reshape the entire political and economic structure of the Empire. By pursuing such a Machiavellian scheme, Kelsier doesn't need to rely on some magical weapon to save the day, he creates his own magic! And speaking of magic...If there was any element of this book I had to say was the most original, it would definitely be the magic system. Here there are no wizards merely casting standard spells. Instead, the magic of the Mistborn is entirely dependant upon certain types of metals. Each of the metals gives the Mistborn a specific ability. For example, Mistborn can push against steel, so by anchoring themselves with steel coins on the ground, a Mistborn can push against the coin to fly up in the air! Other metals can give the user enhanced senses or the ability to manipulate emotions. This magic system leads to some truly amazing action sequences. Instead of "been-there-done-that" battles like swordfights and attackers approaching on horseback, here you may see a Mistborn magically pulling a helmet off of one attacker and pushing it into the second one, then flaring up the second man's anger so that he'll turn around and attack his own partner! In addition, Mistborn can only access these powers by ingesting metals for a finite number of uses, so this adds even more suspense to the battles. While the magic system can be a bit confusing at first, its complexity only adds to its appeal. Indeed, the originality of Mistborn's magic system is only exceeded by the magic present in Sanderson's storytelling abilities!Of course, all this wonderful storytelling could only achieve so much if the characters were dull, but fortunately Sanderson excels there too. Most of the secondary cast is comprised of various members of Kelsier's crew, each of whom has their own endearing personalities. From gruff Ham who often tries (albeit usually unsuccessfully) to engage in philosophical debates with his crewmates, to acerbic Breeze whose selfish and manipulative ways would have been annoying if only he weren't so amusing to listen too, the supporting cast is more fun than some other book's main characters! But the true stars of this show are Kelsier and Vin. Kelsier is pretty far-removed from the usual fantasy hero...he kills without mercy, he lies and cheats to get what he wants, and he seems to be more in love with himself than anyone else. Yet he is also witty and charismatic, and the more we learn of his tragic past, the more we come to love him despite his flaws (and there are many). In contrast, while Kelsier loves to be the in the spotlight, Vin is terrified by it. Plagued by insecurities and cynical of the world she spent so much time hiding from, Vin is more vulnerable than the usual fantasy heroine, but this just adds to her appeal. Even when she learns how to utilize her magical abilities, Vin always retains her humanity, so instead of watching her grow as a heroine, we watch her grow as a person instead! This perfect mix of a fascinating story and engaging characters makes this book a true modern-day classic!DAVE'S FINAL JUDGMENT - THE DEFENSE - Refreshingly original world and magic system - Captivating characters whose flaws only make them that much more interesting - Backstory and main story are both incredibly compelling - Darker themes like slavery and social inequality are explored in an emotional and effective way - Unique and exciting fight sequences THE PROSECUTION - Magic system can get a little confusing at times - Sets the bar impossibly high for any books you read after this! THE VERDICTMistborn: The Final Empire is so good, not only will it steal the heart of any fantasy lover, it may very well convert new readers to the fantasy genre!

Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths ReviewsI came late to the Brandon Sanderson show. Numerous things caused this. Marriage, work, and kids did dramatically reduce my reading time just when Mr. Sanderson first arrived on the scene. And, no, I didn’t get introduced to him through Wheel of Time, because my disgust with the middle of that series made me abandon it long before Sanderson took over writing duties. But I did keep having his name whispered in my ear, and the suggestions to “Read Sanderson already!” rose to such levels that I finally picked up Mistborn: The Final Empire just to make it stop.As for this book, the story can be summed up as a group of Ocean Eleven-type thieves who plan the ultimate heist. These rogues intend to destroy the magical enforcers of the evil and immortal Lord Ruler (The Steel Ministry and the Canton of Inquisition), slay said Lord Ruler (Who has ruled the Final Empire for a millenium), take over the capital city of said Final Empire, and become the spark to ignite an empire wide revolution that frees the “Skaa” from the abuses of the noble houses who actually run the empire. (This group of thieves will also become filthy rich, but that isn’t these guys main focus with this heist – well, at least, not most of them.)Naturally, there are obstacles to overcome for this crew of saviors. First, the Skaa they want to ignite into rebellion are malnourished, magically challenged, and beaten down to the point they have no desire to fight anyone – even their own oppressors. Two, the majority of people with magic (They are called Misted, and if they are trained users of allomancy they are dubbed Mistborn.) are from noble houses, which are nearly unanimously on the Lord Ruler’s side. And three, no one – not even our heroic rogues – know any way to actually kill the Lord Ruler, because he is basically indestructible as well as immortal.Never fear though, the leader of our pack of revolutionary rogues, Kelsier, is working on a way to get to the Lord Ruler. And when Kelsier puts his mind to something, it inevitably gets done. I mean, this guy is the only person to ever escape the infamous death mines at Hathsin, so if he says he has a plan to make everything work, then everyone believes him and continues on with the mission.One of Kelsier’s helpers in this endeavor is sixteen year old Vin. This street orphan grew up with her older brother working various thieving crews; her contribution to the gangs being the strange power she seems to possess. And when Kelsier eventually stumbles upon her, he immediately turns her into a reclamation project, seeing in her someone who not only deserves to live a better life but who can help him forge one for all the Skaa in the world.From the shadowy mists to the brightly-lit ballrooms, Kelsier, Vin, and their crew of thieves lead readers on a thrilling heist, complete with dangerous foes and mesmerizing allomancy duels. And when the final page comes, it is both satisfying and sad that it has all come to an inevitable conclusion – even if it is a most fitting end for this group of brave rogues.After closing this book, I have to admit that I enjoyed it. Mistborn definitely lived up to its hype in many ways. The magic system of allomancy (Magic is powered by the ingestion of trace minerals, which then give Mistborn amazing superhuman powers.) was intricate but not overwhelming; the main characters of Kelsier and Vin were easy to empathize with; the post-apocalyptic world where ash falls eternally and mists rule the night was intriguing ; and the allomancy fights were some of most visceral, action-packed magical duels that I ever recall reading. And for all those reasons, I definitely intend to pick up more of Mr. Sanderson in the future, but even with that being said, this novel wasn’t perfect to me.First, Mistborn: The Final Empire really felt like a dystopian young adult novel masquerading as a fantasy. I know that makes me sound like some disgruntled old man, but it is how I felt when reading it. I mean, all the characters here speak in modern American and exhibit modern sensibilities; Vin is written like a classic YA heroine who rises up from humble beginnings to become superhuman — even as she finds a sensitive man to give her heart too; and the Mistborn were basically metal eating superheroes. Everything just suggested YA dystopian rather than epic fantasy. This “feel” didn’t ruin the book for me, but I do find it difficult to label it epic fantasy.Second, the beginning of this novel was slow. There were loads and loads of meandering plot lines which had little to do with the main focus of the narrative. Sure, I was glad to see numerous ballroom parties and Vin learning to become a lady, but none of it really fascinated me, especially since the keys to the success of this whole heist were tied up elsewhere. Guess, my disgruntlement could just be labeled a personal preference, but I would have liked to be in the thick of the action rather than at a ball watching Vin learn to play court politics and find a significant other.Third, the ending was so neat, so clean I really don’t have much of a desire to pick up the next book. I realize that is an odd criticism, but there it is. Obviously, I can’t talk about the conclusion of this one, but those who have already read it completely understand where I am coming from with this. Mistborn: The Final Empire ends, and in a lot of ways (most ways) it is a satisfactory conclusion. One I personally don’t feel a need (right now, anyway) of ruining by continuing on to the next book.To sum it up, all my friends who told me I should try Sanderson were right. (There I’ve said it. Happy now?) The ones who suggested this novel as my starting point were also right, because I liked it. (Said it again.) And I do intend to read more of this modern master of writing, but I’m just not sure it will be the rest of this series.

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"He shall defend their ways, yet shall violate them. He will be their savior, yet they shall call him heretic. His name shall be Discord, yet they shall love him for it."A thousand years ago, a young and noble hero arose from rural obscurity into being hailed by Terris priests as the prophesised Hero of Ages. The nations and armies of the world were united beneath his banner in an effort to challenge the Deepness, the mysterious force of darkness threatening to engulf the world. All hope was placed upon a final, daring strike towards the fabled Well of Ascension. But the dreams and hopes of the world were crushed, and the hero’s great mission failed spectacularly.Since then, the entire world has been ruled by the iron fist of the Lord Ruler and his Final Empire. Those few who supported him from the beginning became the Imperial noble families, their existence filled with opulence and extravagance. Everyone else became the skaa, slaves forced to work until they die. Every attempted rebellion has failed, and the oppressive regime grows stronger and stronger with each passing day.But finally, a new kind of rebellion is being planned. One of subterfuge and infiltration. Of the ultimate heist. Of criminal masterminds and allomancers, those able to use the magic of the metals…Characters”Wherever she is, she tries to be as small and unnoticeable as possible. So tense. Vin didn’t sit, she crouched. She didn’t walk, she prowled. Even when she was sitting in the open, she seemed to be trying to hide.”The main protagonist of the book is Vin, a street urchin who has never known neither friendship nor trust. Growing up with a delirious mother and an abusive brother, she has survived on the ash-filled streets only though a combination of luck and cunning. Vin’s point of view is a rather unusual one in the fantasy genre, and Vin herself is an unlikely heroine. In the beginning, she always tries to make herself seem as small and inconspicuous as possible and thinks everyone else will eventually betray her. A member of a thieving crew, Vin is a part of the dangerous criminal underworld of the empire, where no one can be trusted and where petty greed is everyone’s only motivation. But all that changes when one day she meets Kelsier…”That man isn’t human. He might not be a mistwraith, but he’s not skaa either. I’ve heard of him doing things. Things like only they can do. The ones that come out at night.”Kelsier is a legend in the underworld. Once the greatest crewleader in the capital of Luthadel, a man who could pull off any heist, he was eventually caught by the Lord Ruler himself and sent to the Pits of Hathsin, a definite death sentence. But as the only one ever to do so, Kelsier escaped from the Pits, earning the name ‘the Survivor of Hathsin’, and the idolising reverence of the skaa. The story begins when Kelsier returns to Luthadel after all these years, with a grand new plan and a crew of criminal masterminds to execute it.The characters definitely make up one of the greatest strengths of this book. During the course of the book, Kelsier himself became, in my eyes, one of the greatest fantasy characters ever. The same goes for the mysterious and dark Lord Ruler. But it seems like every single character is a significant part of the story. They’re all brilliantly constructed, and they’re all important. A seemingly minor character in one chapter can suddenly turn out to be a major player in another. Almost everyone has a dark and painful past, and everyone has a part to play.Setting”It’s called a flower.” Kelsier said. “They used to grow on plants before the Ascension. Descriptions of them appear in the old poems and stories – things that only Keepers and rebel sages know about anymore. Apparently, these plants were beautiful, and they had a pleasant smell.”The Final Empire is in more than one way a dystopian world. There are no green things growing. There are no flowers and no beautiful nature. Frequent volcanic eruptions cover the world in rains of ashes, causing the world to turn dark and grey. And the nights belong to the mists, making people fearful of going outside after dark. For the mistwraiths are roaming everywhere.The political aspect and the society of the Final Empire is reminiscent of an even more extreme version of France just prior to the revolution. The common folk are oppressed and treated as slaves by the nobility, who spend their time going to balls and festivities in their illustrious keeps. The regime rules with religious legitimacy, and in the beginning only the more privileged among the lowborn people speak of defiance and rebellion.Another exceedingly interesting part of the setting is the book’s magic system. Allomancy is the power to control different metals, and to control everything else through the use of different metals. The powers themselves are reminiscent of the Force powers of the Jedi, but the source of the power, swallowing and “burning” metals inside one’s body, is completely new where magic systems go, and provides a rather unique touch to this setting.Personal opinion”There is always another secret.”That one line seems to be the trademark of this book. For every bit of information being revealed to a character or to the reader, for every plan being set in motion, there is always another secret. When you think you’ve got it all sorted out, when the story is going towards a conclusion, yet more of those secrets are revealed. And even when the book ends, there are still secrets that have yet to be revealed.Mistborn: The Final Empire is certainly one of the best books I have read this year, and I would not be exaggerating if I should call it one of the best fantasy books of this century. Like any other book, it had its downsides, but those were few and insignificant enough to not have any impact on my opinion of the book as a whole.Sanderson’s writing is particularly impressive. Throughout the entirety of the book, he managed to fill me with all kinds of different emotions. He made me furious, he made me laugh and he surprised me. The book contains tons of twists and turns of the plot, most of which are predictable, but in such a way that they add to the overall quality of the book instead of making it boring. And of course, certain events and revelations are not predictable at all, especially nearing the end of the story.This is, for all intents and purposes, a four-star book. So you might wonder why I chose to give it five. And the reason for that is quite simply that I have a tendency of giving five-star ratings to books containing a special scene or detail that I consider to be… well, perfect is as good a word as any (I am apparently easily influenced that way). This book actually had two of those. But there is always another secret, and this must remain secret from those of you who have yet to read this. But you should know that these details alone are more than enough to make the book worth reading.(view spoiler)[The first one of those small details was the way each chapter began with a paragraph from the famous logbook. That insight into the mind of the Hero of Ages, the tale of his journey to the Well of Ascension and his thoughts about the old world in general, was just extraordinary. The way it was written, as a small taste of something better in a world consumed by evil, added something more to the main story that it could not have managed on its own.The second detail was the letter Kelsier left behind for Vin to read. When the reader is following the desperation of the remaining crewmember and is split between anger and grief after Kelsier’s brutal death, this letter arrives with lines like “Please don't be angry at me for abandoning you.” and “Farewell. I'll tell Mare about you. She always wanted a daughter." The scene where she read that was just exceptionally moving for me. (hide spoiler)]

Actual rating is 3.5 to 3.75.When I think back on this book, the first thing that comes to mind is amazing magic system and thorough world building. Usually, I tend to see magic and world building as spices that enhance plot and characterization. Without it, the story could turn out to be bland and tasteless, but the story itself would still exist. Well, in this case, without the magic system and world building, there would be no story. STORY SYNOPSISImagine a post-apocalyptic medieval world, buried in ash and scalded by a red sun. Then imagine almost all the inhabitants of this cursed land, let's call them skaa, enslaved by a tiny minority of noblemen. Oh, and let's not forget about the immortal Lord Ruler, who over his one thousand year reign has mercilessly quashed every single skaa rebellion. The setting of the book explores the question: What if the hero fails? What would the world look like? The world of the Mistborn seems like a very likely possibility.What really sets this book apart was Allomancy, the magic with which our downtrodden heroes seek to subvert the status quo. Allomancy is a skill where those born with the ability can ingest certain metals and "burn" them to gain superhuman skills. Think superhuman strength, emotional coercion, and even flying through the air. Both of the main characters are intimately connected to Allomancy. Vin, our leading lady, is a Mistborn, someone who can burn all Allomantic metals. Kelsier, the other main character, is also a Mistborn who keeps the story rolling with his grand schemes to steal the Lord Ruler's vast stores of atium, a rare Allomantic metal and the foundation of the world's economy. We learn about the complexities and intricacies of Allomancy through them. SO, WHY NOT 4+ STARS?Well, Reason #1 is that it feels like the author spent more time developing Allomancy than his characters and story. Vin, while a delightful and relatable character, seems to belong more in YA fantasy bildungsromans than a dark fantasy focused on two, rather than just one, complex character. Same with Kelsier, though maybe his character is not as YA. Both bear deep scars, and I would have much preferred that the author spend 600 pages exploring just one of them than both. Reason #2, the pacing of the story was uneven and odd. The author bangs out in 15 or so pages a skeleton plan of how to overthrow an immortal dark lord over a roundtable brainstorm session with Kelsier jotting notes on a board. The entire scene was more a weekly management meeting to discuss quarterly profits than a serious discussion of achieving the impossible. Furthermore, later chapters focus almost excessively on Vin's infiltration of the nobility, (view spoiler)[i.e., going to balls and wondering which dress she'll wear... you know, petty things in light of the ultimate goal. (hide spoiler)]

Okay, okay. First off, I'm a bit of a Sanderson newbie. My first foray into Brandon's remarkable mind came at the end of last year, where despite having started The Way of Kings 3 or 4 times, Steelheart became the first Sanderson story I would ever finish. Now I'm a Sanderson Fangirl. I have Sandersonitis. I've been Sandersoned. OBSESSED.Second; Sanderson writes the best prologues. And then there are the stories within the stories and GAH! I can't even deal. The Final Empire is the story of a race of people, Skaa who have been enslaved for a thousand years by a tyrant concqueror, the Lord Ruler. Every part of their existence is controlled by the Lord Ruler, his Obligators and the hellishly frightening inquisitors. Metal spikes for eyes? Yukky. The Skaa needed a hero. Enter Kelsier. Kelsier is Skaa. He is also Mistborn, able to internally burn metals to enhance his physical abilities. He can hear better with tin, he is made stronger through pewter, he can burn brass to soothe the emotions of others. He can push steel and pull iron. The ability to burn metals is called Allomancy, though only those who can burn ALL the metals are called Mistborn. Most can only burn one metal at a time and the science was a bit lost on me, but, basically it is awesome. Not all in the Final Empire have the ability use Allomancy, and the Skaa who can burn metals are hunted. (view spoiler)[There is a bunch more about that in Book III (hide spoiler)]

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