Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.

"There's always another secret."

I used to read a lot of fantasy. And by "used to," I mean before I took on my 250 Project list and started by exploration of the classics. I read fantasy novels all the time, and they made up a good chunk of my literary diet. And while I liked other genres, fantasy has always been a favorite of mine. There is something about the world-building that gets me every darn time.

But in all that fantasy reading, I never stumbled on Brandon Sanderson. So when Amanda was posting about a readalong for the Mistborn trilogy, I read with anticipation. And when she finished and loved it, I decided to join in. I read the first book, appropriately titled Mistborn in just a couple days. That should tell you something since the book was 650 pages.

Mistborn is everything I love about epic high fantasy. The world-building is absolutely fantastic, the characters well-developed, and the plot gripping. There is something to be said about a book that keeps you guessing and turning the pages. I also loved that the fantasy elements were well-developed and explained.

I think that might be why so many are turned off by this kind of high fantasy. I mean, as a reader, you do have to suspend some level of belief when reading a work like this. A bad fantasy author doesn't let you suspend that belief. They don't make you care about their characters, or truly understand their world. A good fantasy writer makes you care. And while you know the world is fake and that the magic isn't a possibility, the reader still sees how the world functions in its own place. I love that.

 Mistborn does all of these things. It explains what needs to be explained as it becomes necessary. The magic systems are explained to the reader when necessary. Young Vin, the female protagonist, is a great catalyst for this knowledge. We learn the world through her own training, experiences, and mistakes. We also learn bits of lore, as necessary, from Sazed as we need to learn it.

The characters as a whole are well-developed and likeable. Kelsier was a phenomenal herolike figure throughout the entire novel. He always kept me guessing up until the end. He pushed the others where they needed to be pushed, and held back the information that needed to be kept secret. He always surprised me, which is something I really loved. I also liked that while Kelsier was the hero for most of the book,I never really knew the truth of what he was doing until near the end. That gave me the chance to feel the desperation of the others when the plans didn't work out.

And Vin. Vin might be one of my favorite female fantasy characters of all time. She changed and adapted slowly to becoming a part of the crew. Her reactions fit until she learned otherwise, her opinions and attitudes altered by the positive interactions she had with those around her. I loved that she barely spoke aloud in the beginning, but at the end, she couldn't stop. It was a great and powerful transformation-just plain superb character development.

There are others, of course. Elend. I really enjoyed seeing what he really thought, and his turn around to the realization of how bad things were in his society. I'm curious to see how he changes in the next two books. I also loved the other members of the crew: Sazed, Marsh (!!!!!!!), Ham....all of them so wonderfully developed that even when they disappeared for 50 pages and came back, I still felt like I knew them.

I can't wait to get to the next two books in the trilogy, and join in on all the discussion. Thank you Amanda for making me join in! :)

"I represent that one thing you've never been able to kill, no matter how hard you try. I am hope."


  1. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so glad you ended up loving this one too! Isn't it just fantastic? I don't want to put spoilers in your comment section, but there were some of those moments near the end that are just my very favorite ever. And those secondary characters - I grew to know them and love them so much. Breeze, Ham, Spook...you know how in some books, while you might love them, a few years later you don't remember the characters' names? Not so in this trilogy. These characters became like friends to me. They were so real and alive and imperfect and wonderful!

  2. Oh my god, I LOVE KELSIER. He's one of my favorite fantasy characters and Mistborn, the entire trilogy is one of my favorites ever. I think you nail it when you explain the difference between good and bad fantasy authors and Sanderson is clearly in the realm of good.

    I just feel a smile coming on when I think of the crew and Sazad and sigh, all of them. BIG GIANT SMILE.

    It also fills me with joy when people with good taste like Mistborn too.

  3. I'm intrigued by your love for this book, and I think I'll give Sanderson another shot. Took my like more than 100 pages to care about anyone in his novel Warbreaker, and I read about the first 10-15 of Mistborn before deciding it just wasn't grabbing me.

    Generally, I'm not overly impressed with super detailed magic systems; Warbreaker introduced some interesting magic system concepts but I started to get the sense that the magic system was justifying the whole story, when I wanted the magic system to be just adding some spice to a story that would still be compelling without it.

    I thought Sanderson's friend David Farland's The Runelords did that a little better than Warbreaker, but you still got the sense that the magic system mattered more than most anything else in the novel. I think I tend to prefer "softer" fantasy that's more poetic. C.J. Cherryh's Morgaine stories were particularly interesting to me, because they hinted at hard and fast rules, but still kept things coy and mysterious.

  4. I've never heard of this series before, but I have to say that I am now definitely interested! Your enthusiasm shines through your review, and now I want to go off and find a copy of my own to read. Great review :)

  5. I first really noticed Sanderson when he was chosen to finish Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series - and rumor has it, that he's actually doing a better job with it than Jordan was ... - having only read the 4 first novels in this series, I still have to say that in some ways, it's rather easy to do better than Jordan! Your review and your enthusiasm for the characters remind me of how I feel about the companions in the DragonLance Chronicles series by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weiss - I just love these characters and just thinking about Tanis, Tas, Raistlin, Tika and all the rest makes me smile.

  6. My husband has been on my case to read this trilogy lately, and your review might be enough to push me over the edge. I've really enjoyed Sanderson's final books in the Wheel of Time trilogy, and I read one of his standalone books (The Way of Kings, maybe? Isn't it terrible that I've forgotten the name?), so not sure why I've been resistant to this trilogy in particular.

  7. I need to read this. Brandon Sanderson lives close to the bookstore where I used to work, so he was frequently coming in for author signings. He was always nice and down to earth -- all the employees loved him!

  8. I've heard such great things about this novel! I'm definitely going to have to read it.

  9. I really enjoyed this book, and I need to finish the series. It's a goal for this year and thanks to your review I may have to start it soon. Good luck with the read-along.