Tough month this month, some amazing things, some not so amazing things and some straight up super crappy things. This is a month where I am so grateful for the ability to read and the means to feed my addiction, I think it is the only thing that got me through it all. So let's ramble about one of the books that got read this month of chaos shall we? Today we shall ramble about Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, the first book in the Mistborn series. I have read a couple other books by this author and really enjoyed them and decided to pick this one up based soley on that premise. This book enchanted me, frustrated me, intrigued me, made me think, made me scream, made me roll my eyes, but mostly made me want to read the next book. Let's get on with it shall we? As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
World Building - This world is a mix of a very complete medieval style fantasy world with a complicated government and a magic based on metal and a whole lot of confusing details. I feel like the world itself is fairly complete, but the author threw in a ton of stuff that was never really explained. This led to a world that worked, but had gaps...not sure if it was successful or not...yes on some points, no on others...but yes...I felt that there were a lot of contradictions that were never satisfactorily resolved and I admit that it took me out of the world on occasion. That being said the parts that were complete, were very complete and I felt I got a good grasp on the feel of the parts we were shown at the very least.
Character - I loved the characters in this book. They were all varied and individual with stories, families, histories and just enough of a twist to make them all interesting. Kelsier has every right to be a depressive, morose, violent leader, but he makes a point to be as positive as possible...at least in public. I love watching his struggle to maintain an optimistic outlook despite the myriads of things against him. He is never unrealistically cheerful as we get to see the struggle behind the smile. Vin is the character who has to essentially reassess her whole life, she is thrust into a whole new world and her views on all kinds of things have to slowly change and the journey is both realistic and fascinating, also for once, a character who doesn't LOVE to read :-). Sazed is the type of character I love because of his extensive history and his different outlook on life. His views on religion and belief especially intrigue me.
Editing - Overall the editing of this book was pretty good. For the most part it flowed and made sense, I kept reading it and didn't realize how quickly I was turning the pages...always a good sign. The format was a little skippy with the view point switching with no warning, making it a bit jarring when I had to wrench my brain to a different character. Also a couple of times things were mentioned without any explanation, like since the characters knew what was going on, we should too. This made me flip back and forth a couple times 'cause I thought I may have missed something...not cool dude. I did however love the bits of journal entry at the top of each chapter, it gave a cool history vibe to follow along with, especially with the twist at the end of the book. I also like that the journal was talked about in the book, a bit of meta editing.
Allomancy - So much to say about this central magic of the book. First off I found it a bit weird that the metals used in this fantasy world were all Earth metals...kind of made me pause and wonder if their was a connection. I liked the idea of Allomancy better then I liked the execution of it in the book. The use of it was fairly consistent which was good, every element assigned to a certain action that when used did a certain thing. I like the idea that most people with Allomancy were only able to use a single metal with the rare few being able to use more then that. I also really appreciated that Vin saw the wisdom in learning from Allomancers who specialized in one metal to truly fully appreciate the full potential use of each metal. I still don't understand how/why only nobles could use Allomancy. Are the nobles and skaa two different races? Was the Lord Ruler able to "gift" Allomancy to certain people? How many generations removed could Allomancy be genetically viable? Like I noted earlier, another reader stated that a lot of the Allomancy sequences read like a video game, which is a very accurate description. I think the bigger problem was that the fight sequences were numerous and all felt the same. Obviously Allomancy is a central part to the books, I just wish it was better explained and more streamlined.
Religion - I think one of the best things about the fantasy genre is the ability to explore sticky topics like religion with out offending to many people. I absolutely LOVED the questions of religion posed in this book. Let's star with Sazed and his Keeper memory. In this world, the only "acceptable" religion is the one where the Lord Ruler is considered the Sliver of Divinity. During the...whatever it is that happened, religions were the last organizations to fall to the Lord Ruler. According to Sazed it wasn't because of the religion, but because of the belief that people had. Sazed as a Keeper has over 300 religions in his head and is working on discovering more. As he interacts with people, he tries to find a belief that fits them, to give them something to fight for. I like the idea that belief...in whatever..is the true important part. This inspires Kelsier, who figures out how to turn himself into a religion, knowing that his death will spark the rebellion needed to win the fight. This brings up uncomfortable comparisons with the Lord Ruler who essentially did the same thing. I just love love love when a book makes me think, and this aspect send my brain reeling in a million directions.
Genetics - One of the things that was never really clear to me was the genetics of this world. I can't tell if the world is made up of genetically different races, or if the Lord Ruler made different races, or there were some differences before the Lord Ruler and more after...I don't know, it's all really confusing. It seems that maybe the Terrismen were a separate race from...I don't know what they were called originally and then the Lord Ruler did his Well of Ascension thing and then maybe turned everybody else into two races, noble/skaa. Also what are the nobles called? Is there race just called the nobles? Are there more races/people we haven't seen yet? Are the mist wraiths and kanda (which we also get very little explanation for) of the same stock? Animal? Alien? Demon? SOMEBODY JUST TELL ME?!?
Overall Impression - Many aspects of this book intrigued me, made me thing and kept me turning the pages. Many aspects of this book drove me crazy, made me flip back and forth and just generally made me scream. It is complicated, full, and overall pretty good. I want to keep reading, I want to know more, and I have a feeling that I will like the series as a whole better then I will any individual book...which is not a bad thing per se, I just have to read the books with the whole series in mind. I give this book 7 out of 10 metal coins and will continue the series and see where it takes me.
Happy Reading Everybody!