No one really needs me to write this book review. Mistborn has been out for a while and is turning into a standard in modern fantasy literature. It’s author, Brandon Sanderson, is beloved in this genre and is, quite possibly, the most respected author currently writing Fantasy.
So a lot has been said about this book already. No one needs my opinion.
But, on the off chance you haven’t read this book, here are my thoughts on it.
This story is a fascinating one that feels unique. At least, I don’t know too many like it. It begins as a heist story: a group of criminals setting up to try and steal from the most powerful, god-like ruler in the realm. It also has the additional interesting set up that this takes place in a world where the hero lost, so the land is in despair and ruin.
I really enjoyed this plot, even when I felt like it switched on me. For most of the book, the setup is heist story. That is what we are preparing for. And then, about two thirds of the way through, it switches and turns into the typical, maybe a little cliched, story of a uniquely gifted orphan taking on the powerful evil Lord. While I was still invested in the way the plot turned, I felt a little let down about the promise of a heist story not living up.
Ultimately, the plot isn’t a weak part of this book. The pacing was great, the story was interesting and engaging, and the payoff worked really well. I loved seeing the different aspects of this culture play out within the story. We got to see the worlds of the aristocracy and peasants in a way that felt natural within the story.
The interesting thing about this story is how the characters can be both a high point and a low point. Some of them were incredibly deep with heavy arcs that I loved. Some of them felt flat and one-dimensional.
Kelsier is a fantastic character. His motives and his progression felt real, earned, and deep. I loved reading his POV. On the other hand, I didn’t like Vin. For some reason, her progression felt rushed. She seemed to transition from an abused, poor child into a confident warrior rather quickly. I didn’t see enough struggle from her.
Some of the supporting cast were really interesting, but some of them were one note. Almost like Sanderson thought of a particular characteristic and built a character around that.
There was so much potential with this world and the character possibilities, I guess they felt flat not because they were bad but because they were not as good as I wanted them to be. Maybe that is a downside of having Sanderson’s reputation: if it isn’t excellent, it’s bad. And that might not be fair.
The setting of this book was definitely a high point. Set in a world where the evil villain one, it was super interesting to see Sanderson’s take on what that would look like. It turns out, the world is very bleak and dark when that happens. Go figure.
Some people might think this world is a tad boring. After all, it is meant to feel desolate and broken. But I don’t think that’s true at all. The world in its current state gives the story a feeling of depth and history. It means the world has been lived in before the start of this story and I love when books have that feel.
The cultural differences between the two different class divisions, and then the cultures within different subsets of those classes, felt natural and deep. None of it felt pasted in, I could tell that Sanderson took his time building out these cultures.
The magic system was hit or miss for me. While I found it interesting, I am not a huge fan of elemental magic. Also, it was a lot. At the end of the book, I’m still not fully sure I understood everything happening with all of the different magics in this book.
I greatly enjoyed this book. It was well-crafted, thought out, and written well. Though I think this was an early example of Sanderson’s story telling and he has room to grow, I’m excited by what I read. I felt engaged and invested throughout the book, enough to make me want to read the rest of the trilogy.
I tried to remove my understanding of Sanderson’s reputation as I attempted to review this book. I know how loved and respected he is, so I know that can make me view this book through a filtered lens. I’d expect it to be fantastic in every way. So the faults, even if they were minor, felt glaring. And that is not fair.
So, taking a step back, forgetting this is Brandon Sanderson, and treating it like any other book, I’d give it 4.25 stars out of five. It really was a fantastic read that I’d highly recommend.