Reviews: Mistborn The Original Trilogy

The Final Empire: By The Numbers

Mistborn: The Original Trilogy kicks off with a world where the Dark Lord won a thousand years ago, the world is covered in volcanic ash, and everyone who isn't nobility is a slave. A group of rebels, led by a guy with Magneto-esque metal based powers, attempts an impossible heist to end the tyranny once and for all.

Mistborn feels like it was written for a younger audience than me; an audience who would more readily connect with either of the wish-fulfilment deuteragonists (an implausibly talented girl from the streets and an implausibly badass master thief), and an audience who might not notice the heavy structuring in the book. At any point in the novel, you can see the framework on which this story hangs. We are told from the get go that the heist will probably get all the heroes killed, but within the first few chapters I correctly figured out who exactly would be dead by the end. That's not to say the book is without twists or clever tricks I didn't see coming, or even that its more predictable parts are badly handled, its just that I feel like the story telling is falling behind our expectations, trying to impress us with an all too familiar set up.

That's a shame because the world and actual heist are well done. I liked the originality of the setting, and of the emphasis on court intrigue, spycraft and wetwork. It has a nice bunch of characters too; a poorer writer could have left us with clichéd, edgy, action heroes with billowing night cloaks, one-liners, and akimbo daggers, but thankfully this has been written with considerably more self-awareness. Characters will regularly call out the hero for melodramatic cloak sweeping and affected wise-cracking, and that turns out to be more than enough to keep the lead from falling into a dreaded Mary Sue territory. They aren't effortlessly badass, they are try-hards who need to feel like badasses. They need the pretence to escape the fact that they are largely powerless against the "final empire".

Even if I feel a bit too adult for it at times, I can recommend Mistborn to anyone. It is by the numbers, but Mistborn picked good numbers with an original looking setting and fun characters.

Mistborn: Upending Fantasy One Trope at a Time

The Mistborn Triology is a wonderful romp into a startlingly believable world with a strong Feudal Europe flavor. The magic systems (Hemalurgy, Allomancy, and Feruchemy) are hallmarks of his meticulously planned Magic A Is Magic A and Functional Magic systems.

The characters like Vin and Elend are strong and sympathetic, while still remaining sufficiently different from any of us to provide a new experience. The creatures (Koloss in particular) are unearthly and, with the application of Frige Horror, rather disturbing. To me, they have the ring of Magic The Gathering about them. The battle between Ruin and Preservation is a nicely-grounded background event that gradually becomes more important.

His writing style is concise and smart, and his Deadpan Snarkers are rampant. He ties up loose plot threads neatly, while leaving readers with just enough questions to make us want to read it all over again.

It is a trilogy I would (and do) recommend to my fellow lovers of fantasy looking for something different from all the other things on the shelf. It is worth your time, and I strongly encourage you to pick up the first book and start reading.


Warning, contains spoilers.

The series was interesting, but in short, extremely underwhelming. There was so much set up for epic end of the world scenarios, but they didn't go anywhere. With a name like THE DEEPNESS, glass windows depicting a eldritch horror with writing black tentacles, and a diary that goes on at length talking about how armies are useless and it's destroying the world, it turns out to be... a little bit of mist. The Deepness comes back, in that it gets a little misty during the day. There was a lot of setup, and it went nowhere. It turns out that the mist is actually caused by the good deity too.

Normally I don't mind a good amount of introspection, but there's so many times the characters have lengthy internal monologues during action scenes or when they're jumping off walls. It really stops up the action unnecessarily. It got worse towards the last book.

And the most disappointing part was the ending. The trilogy was perfectly set up to have a good ending, but it basically seems like so many important characters made it to the last chapter just to die, while a minor recurring servant character randomly ascends to godhood to save the world. The deaths of Vin and Elend, the former ascending to godhood then dying, and the latter, who burns a stockpile of Atium and nearly fights off an army, then dying, didn't seem to fit. Don't get me wrong, I've read all the ASOIAF series and I'm plenty used to characters dying, it just seemed so random and unnecessary. As far as plot goes, this is the most unfulfilling ending I have ever read.

Not bad, could have been better.

A friend loaned me the trilogy, absolutely gushing about it, and he reads incessantly. Reading the first book, I was wondering what he saw in it. The author's voice was rather generic and flat, and he worked too hard at trying to be mysterious to hook the reader in ("Ooh, aren't you curious what 'burning tin' means? Keep reading to find out!"), rather than letting his own voice and work pull you in. It took about half the first book for me to really be hooked, but even then, there seemed to be a lot of missteps and places where the story just wasn't coming together as well as it should have. The author also contradicts himself a few times, notably in that Ironpulling and Steelpushing are based solely on the Allomancer's weight, but then noting that Vin (and later, Elend) can Push/Pull much harder than other Allomancers. . . so it is based only on weight or not? The action scenes are amazing, and the characters are at the very least interesting and grow believably, and the climax of the series is absolutely astonishing, so it's still well worth a read. And the magic systems are the best part, with well-thought-out internal consistency to avoid gamebreaking powers (and with a few small loopholes to allow them when necessary). It almost feels like the author is a gamer, ticking off a GM checklist of what would and would not be overpowered in a tabletop RPG campaign. Starting up Alloy of Law, a sequel story, and the writing is much crisper, the characters more developed and intriguing, the pacing and flow much better. So consider this a great story told by an author still finding his feet, which perhaps should have been shelved until he had the experience to really make it sing. However, even with it's flaws, it's still an immensely enjoyable read, definitely recommended. Though all in all, I liked it better when it was called Deathstalker.


Mistborn: the final empire (#1) was full of interesting ideas. The magic systems were interesting and the world is well built. Where everything fell apart for me is in the treatment of the characters. The internal monologues and the dialogues feel immature. Characters explain to one another and uncomfortable amount of information. During negotiations both sides show all their cards immediately. The characters didn't feel realistic. Vin was a typical "ugly girl" that turns into "attractive young woman". Too many tropes were used that took away from the novelty of the story devices and turn this into a typical fantasy tripe.