If you're gonna be a hero, you gotta learn how to drive a stick

I finally got a copy of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn: The Final Empire from the library just before Christmas and read it over the holidays.

I've been putting off writing about it, though, because it was so very good and I want to say why I think so, but it's easier for me to write a negative review than a positive one. I think that's because, in a negative review, it's so easy to be snarky and allow one's wit to flow in the service of cruelty - which isn't really writing a review; it's just seeing how clever one can be in one's meanness. Sometimes it's more difficult to be clever when one is heaping praise on something.

And I do want to heap praise, because I enjoyed the first Mistborn book a lot. I especially appreciated the character development of Vin, who starts out as a quiet, withdrawn young street thief; frequently physically abused by members of her gang, she tries to make herself invisible. Over the course of the story and under the tutelage of the master thief Kelsier, Vin develops into a more self-assured, more outgoing individual who gains confidence in her special abilities and ends up doing some rather extraordinary things. Not that I've read a lot of scifi/fantasy (yet), but I don't think I've ever read a fantasy or science fiction novel that had such a likeable character who showed so much growth. She really is a remarkable creation, and I thank Brandon Sanderson for her.

Aside from Vin, the other characters in the book are interesting as well, and their undertaking (overthrowing the evil Lord Ruler) and how they attempt to carry it out makes an intriguing story.

I liked the book so well, I was almost afraid to read the second book of the series, The Well of Ascension.

I thought I would be disappointed that Vin would be more mature, more self-assured, and she wouldn't experience the same growth that she did in the first book. But I read it anyway. I was right. The Well of Ascension kept my interest all the way through, but the focus was different. There was a lot of politics in it, and the focus seemed to be more on Elend (Vin's love interest) and how he attempts to lead the empire after the death of the Lord Ruler. He grew a lot in character, too, but I found it less compelling. That's just me, I suppose.

That's not to say that I didn't like the book, because I really did. And I recommend it. It has some good action scenes and some surprising plot twists.

As a writer, Brandon Sanderson impresses me. He really knows how to create interesting characters, his action scenes are very exciting, and his magic systems (Allomancy, Feruchemy, etc) are fascinating. (I'd love to see a really well made film of the first book; I can just picture some of those Allomancer moves....) He's adequate but not a whiz at descriptive passages, but then I know a lot of people who prefer not to spend too much time with descriptions. I've come across a few quirky, non-standard bits of writing from him, but I can forgive them. Except one. The one error that really bothered me was when he mentioned someone's "pale pallor". Pallor is defined as "unusual or extreme paleness", so saying "pale pallor" is redundant. The other things are relatively minor, though, and I don't think they should keep anyone, even an annoying perfectionist like me, from reading and enjoying the books.

I have begun the third book, The Hero of Ages, and look forward to spending more time with it.


eric and adrien said...

what is the title from? it sounds vaguely familiar...
i should read more...expand my horizons a little bit.

Janeite42 said...

it's from The Sarah Connor Chronicles tv show.