I started reading this on a suggestion from Adam at Reviews and Ramblings, who is actually going through the series again. It is a 643 page fantasy novel, the first in the Final Empire trilogy. Mistborn is a hefty story, not one easily summarized. But, well, here we go.
Mistborn is about a young skaa girl, about 16, named Vin. She uses her Luck to influence people so her thieving crew, led by her emotionally and physically abusive brother, can get by. The story is also about a skaa rebellion and it’s leader, Kelsier, a full Mistborn (more about this later). The skaa people have worked on plantations as slaves, been beaten by the nobility, and have generally suffered heavily for at least the last 1000 years under the Lord Ruler’s reign. The majority of the plot in this book deals with the detailed plans of skaa rebellion. I thought it would be lengthy and boring to look at the plans, but it actually adds a lot to the story and is easy to get through.
Both Vin and Kelsier grow an amazing amount throughout the book. Though Vin starts off as timid, untrusting, and unsure about herself, Kelsier’s actions and confidence in her helps her grow as a character. She also helps Kelsier grow, and their dynamic makes the dark idea of oppression seem a little less crushing. The story was broken down into five ‘parts’ and I really enjoyed how each Part felt different than the others. It actually made sense to me to break it down this way, and I feel it contributed to the changes and development of each character.
The majority of the story takes place in Luthadel, the capitol city of sorts of the Final Empire. The noble houses who basically run the economy in Luthadel also oppress the skaa. There are often skaa murders in the middle of the street, and they have no sympathy for their slaves. The nobility in this reminded me quite a bit of the noble Houses in Menzoberranzan (city of the drow elves) in the Legend of Drizzt series — not saying that’s a bad thing, because it makes an excellent background for oppression and squabbling/pact-making between nobility to gain rank. In Luthadel, there are nightly mists, where most are afraid to even go outside. This also reminded me of the darkness of Menzoberranzan.
The book explains the ‘magic’ system extremely well. Brandon Sanderson is clearly a master at world building. As I learned about Allomantic powers — being able to burn the ten basic Allomantic metals to Soothe or Riot emotions, to Push or Pull on metal in the world, etc., throughout the book — I realized how well it was weaved into the story. It never felt like I was reading Sanderson’s notes on a world he created, it always felt important to the story. Anyway, Mistings are people who can burn one Allomantic metal to alter something physically or mentally in the world around them. Mistborn are able to burn every Allomantic metal, and are much more rare.
Even though I had basically figured out the how the novel was going to end, it was still extremely satisfying, maybe even more so, because I know that it fit with what I knew of the world. If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed this novel. The characters grew well throughout, and were completely realistic. The powers (‘real’ magic) were creative and unique and fit well into the story. The plot was fantastic. Although the first 200 pages took me a bit to get through, I finished the last 443 in two days. I really did not want to put it down, and have already started The Well of Ascension, second in the trilogy. I highly recommend Mistborn for anyone who even remotely enjoys fantasy.
Though there were a few good quotes, I picked just one to share. Trust is a big part of Vin’s life, because she was always taught by her brother that anyone and everyone WILL betray you. No questions asked. This quote deals with the idea of trust:
“That’s kind of what trust is, isn’t it? A willful self delusion? You have to shut out that voice that whispers about betrayal, and just hope that your friends won’t hurt you. [...] Distrust is really the same thing–only on the other side. I can see how a person, given the choice between two assumptions, would choose to trust.”