Sunday, 14 November 2010

Book Review: The Mistborn Trilogy, by Brandon Sanderson

The Mistborn Trilogy: Brandon Sanderson

The Final Empire; The Well of Ascension; The Hero of Ages

The Lord Ruler has held dominion over the Final Empire for a thousand years. The Skaa slaves have suffered the most under his oppressive reign, and now a few brave outcasts team up to stage a coup. Will they succeed? And if they do, what will become of the world?

The short version? The Mistborn trilogy is, without a doubt, one of the finest fantasy sequences I have had the pleasure of reading.

The long version? Well, purely on a technical level, Sanderson excels. The writing is always confident, stylestically sure without being intrusive, and there is a pleasing range of characters, all of whom have their own individual voices and personalities. True, many of them are easily recognised tropes - the roguish thief, the street urchin who may be more than she appears - but tropes are not, of course, bad on their own, and they are excellent examples of said tropes. Similarly, the plot of the first volume at least is
not entirely unfamiliar, but a few neat twists and the fact that it continues into something far more unusual elevates it. By the final third of the series, Sanderson has built up such a complex and thrilling plot that when the revelations arrived, my jaw was hanging open for the rest of the book. The series as a whole is perhaps not unputdownable, however excellent it is, but at this point I just could not stop reading. When I finally reached the (very emotionally and thematically satisfying) conclusion, I was very tempted to start the series again.

The magic system is...well, I have mixed feelings. When it comes to magic, I prefer a system that feels - well, magical. Put too much detail in, and you risk losing that essential touch. Sanderson treads a fine line here; the magic is rigourously detailed and explained, to the point where some fans were allegedly able to work out the unrevealed powers of their own accord, which is certainly impressive. However, he never lets the magic become mundane or too scientific. As a trilogy that largely revolves around war of one sort or another, much of the magic is used offensively, but it is always awe-inspiring.

Finally, we must consider the thematic elements. This is always a dubious prospect, especially in fantasy - it is easy to become preachy or worse, dull. Sanderson's theme here is religion. More specifically, the nature of what makes a God. To say more would be a spoiler of criminal proportions, but suffice it to say that he handles it tastefully and elegantly. The eventual resolution is beautiful.

In case it isn't already obvious, I am a massive, massive fan of this trilogy, and I cannot recommend it too highly. It is a must read, and not just for fans of fantasy - it is a must read for anyone with an interest in good books.5/5

No comments:

Post a Comment