Title: The Final Empire.
Series: Mistborn #1.
Writer(s): Brandon Sanderson.
Publisher: Tor Books.
Release Date: July 25th, 2006.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
Empires are often built on power. Many must suffer through an eternal life of misery filled with pain, sweat, and blood, for others to live spoiled with love, riches, and glory. History, however, shows that such societies are bound to fall and it all comes down to the determination of the people to bring about change. Thus begins a revolution. While they may seem peaceful at first, they can turn violent, deadly, and chaotic on a whim, provoking the necessity of change if peace is ever to be reacquired, this time not under any form of monarchy but a system where individuals hold onto their freedom and rights. Introducing us to a meticulously innovative world set in the Cosmere universe, writer Brandon Sanderson presents us with the first book of the Mistborn trilogy and demonstrates his incredible ability to brings stories to life.
What is The Final Empire about? Set in a dichotomous world where distinctive disparities separate the nobility from the poor and enslaved skaa population, society strives on the backbone of a dynamic founded on oppression. The story follows a street urchin known under the name of Vin who possesses a unique ability that she refers to as Luck that allows her to soothe a person from erupting on an emotional level. This is where criminal mastermind Kelsier enters the picture and wishes to recruit Vin to his gang and teach her Allomancy, a magical art that consists of consuming certain metals to exhibit unique enhancements, from physical strength to emotional manipulation. While the opportunity seems too good to be true, the twist lies in Kelsier’s latest and ultimate job for his crew: to overthrow the Final Empire and change the social stratification once and for all.
“The only reason to be subservient to those with power is so that you can learn to someday take what they have.”
— Brandon Sanderson
At the core of this tale is a revolution in the making. It remains the driving force of multiple key characters, an idea tickling the protagonist’s curiosity, and an event that will shake the foundation on which sits the Lord Ruler for the past millennium as he symbolizes an Ascended Avatar of God, a Sliver of Infinity. Many have learned that writer Brandon Sanderson should never be underestimated for his impeccable ability to build worlds and universes. This story is a prime example of his raw talent. Sprinkling history throughout the narrative while also discussing the ongoing power dynamic that is rooted within society between nobility and skaa are enough to grab your attention from the very beginning. But to start a rebellion, the people need to believe in the cause, to perceive it as a tangible ultimatum, and that is only half the battle that Kelsier and his crew have to fight.
It’s when writer Brandon Sanderson introduces his Allomancy magic system that the story takes flight and enters uncharted territory, allowing Vin’s character to serve as the subject of training and self-actualization within the narrative but also the vessel of theory and practice for the reader. Intricate yet also accessible, the mechanics behind the magic in this world is bound to prompt awe and wonderment in you. Not only does it contribute to the various power relationships that exist within the society, but it also paves the way to what might be some of the most entertaining and cinematic action sequences in epic fantasies. Trust me when I tell you that these moments play out like video games with clever strategies at the heart of every confrontation, likening them to chess games but with physical consequences. There’s simply no reason to not fall in love with it as you progressively learn the ramifications of each metal’s characteristics and how the user can manipulate them.
While this epic heist adventure builds up masterfully, it is necessary to mention that the characters are responsible for a lot of the success of this story. The most stand-out personage is Kelsier and his mysterious self filled with unparalleled knowledge about Allomancy and the world around him, on top of his eerie recent past as the survivor of a deadly prison pit, making him one of the most marvelous characters to follow. With plans within plans, it is near impossible to see where he’s heading but you know that he’ll do anything to get what he wants. Then comes Vin who started off with a personality as hard as a rock with little character besides her perseverance and instinct for survival. While she does slowly break down the wall she built around herself during her childhood, I did feel like the romance that later builds up around her was a bit rough around the edges and difficultly fit with her personality. It is worth noting that the banter between the other crew members is hilarious and made the entire team a joy to follow nonetheless.
The Final Empire is a stunning and magical universe presented through an insane heist where the score is a system based on power and persecution.