Friday, 6 December 2013

Series Review - The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2)The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3)
Brandon Sanderson's epic fantasy trilogy overturns the expectations of readers and then goes on to tell the epic story of evil overturned in a richly imagined world. A thousand years ago evil came to the land and has ruled with an iron hand ever since. The sun shines fitfully under clouds of ash that float down endlessly from the constant eruption of volcanoes. A dark lord rules through the aristocratic families and ordinary folk are condemned to lives in servitude, sold as goods, labouring in the ash fields. But now a troublemaker has arrived and there is rumour of revolt. A revolt that depends on criminal that no-one can trust and a young girl who must master Allomancy - the magic that lies in all metals. A word of mouth success in the states the Mistborn trilogy has, this year, broken onto the New York Times Bestseller list. The time is ripe for its success to cross the Atlantic.

Amazon UK

What if the Dark Lord won?

This is the premise of the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, one of the best epic fantasy series I’ve read in a long time. The strength of it is in how it differentiates itself from its predecessors; whereas many believe that epic fantasy is nothing more than imitations of Tolkien, Mistborn is set in a world free from elves, dwarfs, goblins and orcs, but populated by thousands upon thousands of skaa workers, people crushed by the tyrannical reign of the immortal Lord Ruler. The Lord Ruler, who supposedly overcame a force known as the Deepness centuries ago, is now seen as the almighty, their saviour who has every right to punish the skaa with constant mists, ash falls, and brutal punishment. Beneath the Lord Ruler are the nobility, the Great Houses, many of whom are granted invincibility by their possession of Allomancy, magical power which allows one to draw on different abilities from different metals. In a world where ancestry determines privilege and power, the skaa have been beaten down for millennia. But things are about to change…

Vin, a skaa street urchin and thief, has always been aware that she possesses the ability to influence the feelings of those around of her, a power she calls ‘Luck’. But when a stranger rescues her from a beating from her master, she discovers that this power is Allomancy, a result of her heritage as half-nobility and half-skaa. But Vin is more than a Misting (those who can only use one Allomantic skill) - she is one of the rarities known as Mistborn, able to master all eight uses of Allomancy. Kelsier, a fellow Mistborn, wants her to be part of his plan to overthrow the Final Empire- a plan which seems futile from the outset, given that even the most minor skaa rebellions have failed. But there is more to Kelsier than meets the eye. An outcast and troublemaker, nothing will stand in the way of his goal: to bring the Lord Ruler down. Known as the Survivor of Hathsin due to his having been the only person to escape the Lord Ruler’s clutches alive, Kelsier wants retribution for the loss of his beloved, and for the centuries of oppression the skaa have suffered, and is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve it.

Vin, meanwhile, simply wants to feel a sense of belonging. Betrayed by her former thieving crew, even her brother, she finds unexpected friends as she is drawn into a rebellion that will change the world as she knows it. Now Vin must learn to master Allomancy, and impersonate a noblewoman in order to eavesdrop on the nobility- whilst Kelsier and the others attempt to sew discord amongst the houses in the hope of igniting a feud that will serve as a distraction in order for them to confront the Lord Ruler. But it’s never that simple. She finds herself falling for a nobleman, heir to the house of Venture, and is unwittingly drawn further into house politics- and their underlying corruption- than she ever expected. Is the world of the nobility so very different from life on the streets, and can anyone be trusted? The plot twists and turns at breakneck pace; 650 pages didn’t feel long enough! This is epic fantasy at its best: fast-paced, gripping, and thrilling. Sanderson creates a world that completely draws the reader in.

In the second and third books, things get even more epic in scale. Vin and Elend struggle to maintain their new government whilst fighting assassins and armies as other nations fight over the capital. Meanwhile, a creature in the mist haunts Vin, and the search for the mysterious Well of Ascension may have unexpected consequences for all. A dark entity is trying to break free, and when it does -well, one jaw-dropping twist follows another, and it's hard to say anything about the final book without spoilers! All I can say is that Sanderson is a genius. All the plot strands come together in a way I never saw coming, and the finale is totally gripping, emotionally intense and epic in scale - hell, this series DEFINES epic. There is nothing like it. If you like high fantasy - and even if you don't - then this is among the best I've read, and has a place on my 'favourites for life' shelf!

Rating: *****

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