Book Review Number 2: Mistborn Trilogy
I wasn’t going to do another book review so soon, but after reading this trilogy, (and plowing through its 1600+ pages in less than two weeks. actually maybe less than a week.) I feel that it deserves its own review, particularly since its author, Brandon Sanderson, doesn’t get nearly as much love as he deserves. If that name sounds familiar, you might know him as the author who is finishing the Wheel of Time series after the death of Robert Jordan. Aaaaaand if you didn’t already know I was a huge nerd, now you do.
ANYWAY, I just finished this trilogy, and it is absolutely amazing. I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a fantasy buff. I started with Tolkien and C.S. Lewis when I was very young, and gradually began to branch out after that. Unfortunately, a lot of fantasy is just regurgitation of old tropes, which makes much of it very dull to read. (I’m looking at YOU, Eragon. *glare*) Dullness is something of which Brandon Sanderson could never be accused. He is one of the most creative people currently writing, in my humble opinion.
The premise of his universe is that magic exists, but not as such. It is much more like a science than an art. How this works is that metals have magical properties. Not all metals, and only if you’ve got the right alloy, but those who are born with the ability can “burn” metals to produce different effects, resembling magic. You can increase strength, heighten senses, hide and detect the abilities of others, soothe or heighten the emotions of others, and even see into the past or future, based on whatever metal is being used. The catch is that most people don’t have any of these abilities, and those who do mostly just have one of them. There are, however, very rare individuals who have the ability to use all of them. So much for the “magic.”
The first book in the trilogy is about the overthrow of an evil government by a small group of rebels against seemingly impossible odds. The characters are really engaging, funny, and each one is unique. You understand their motivations and their disparate personalities, while enjoying how beautifully they complement and challenge each other. However, there’s this moment at the end of the first book where you realize, “Oh, this is a trilogy… What now?” Then, Brandon Sanderson shows his brilliance, because let me tell you, sh*t gets REAL. He takes every assumption that you’ve made (The first of which being, at least if you are me, that everything is relatively straightforward. It’s NOT.) and turns it on its head, then kicks it around a bit, then sets it on fire, then throws it into the ocean. Nothing is going to turn out how you expect, and I loved that! As epic as the revolution in the first book seems, it looks positively provincial compared to what’s really going on. The real conflict is on a cosmic scale, and it does not disappoint. And each of the characters grows and evolves in order to make that even possible. I don’t want to give too much away, but if you think (as I did) that the second book starts off slow, please, KEEP GOING. It’s so worth it.
In addition to the absolutely incredible and really creative story, the pacing is damn near perfect. You are teased and tantalized with tidbits of information, gradually being able to put more and more of the puzzle together, until the end when you finally realize that the author has had everything perfectly planned, from the beginning. That moment, when you see exactly how you’ve been led through the entire story without understanding it, is absolutely awe-inspiring, because every tiny detail has been completely deliberate throughout the entire book. It’s truly amazing. It’s really hard for me to explain to you how great it is without ruining the ending, and believe me, I don’t want to do that. So I’ll just tell you, these books are well worth reading. Good characterization, a gripping storyline, and a really creative form of magic all combine to make these some of my favorite fantasy novels ever. HIGHLY recommended.