Fantasy fiction covers a swath of subgenres, most famous of which is epic/high fantasy. Set entirely in a fictitious world, high or epic fantasy is jam-packed with large battles between opposing forces, a bouquet of colorful characters, magic systems, and intricate world-building. But as diverse as epic fantasy can be, it’s rather a daunting task to pick and choose a novel from the hundreds that comprise this robust genre. That’s where I come in! Today I’ll list my five reasons why you should read Mistborn: The Final Empire.
Mistborn: The Final Empire, written by Brandon Sanderson, is the first book of the highly praised Mistborn series. Published in 2006, it was Sanderson’s second novel and helped catapult his status as a master of fantasy. His most recent published novel is Rhythm of War, the fourth entry of his popular Stormlight Archive series.
Reason #1: It’s easy to read
Before we dive into the meat of the story, let’s take a look at the novel’s bones: the prose. If I were to describe the prose of this book, I would say it is straightforward and unadorned. By this I mean the prose is minimalistic enough that one’s imagination can wiggle through and fill the blanks left in the text. Yet, it is descriptive enough that you’ll get a precise idea of what’s happening in a scene. As a result, the novel manages to be accessible outside its target audience. Even if you’re someone who prefers to read evocative and vivid prose, this novel can certainly be a welcome change and make you appreciate writing that is fast-paced and sparsely descriptive. Speaking of fast-paced, the novel can be read in a matter of weeks—less if you’re a speed reader.
Reason #2 : A simple premise to follow
At its core, Mistborn: The Final Empire follows a tried-and-true premise: a group of people band together to topple an Evil Empire. The novel tweaks this by putting thieves in the limelight, though they act more like a band of rebels than actual thieves. Nevertheless, the plot of the novel still centers on a group of rebels trying to find a way to defeat the thousand-year reign of the antagonist. But the plot offers subplots such as infiltrating noble society, training montages, and uncovering the setting’s lore.
Reason #3 : A world that is not a generic european setting
No fantasy novel can exist without its setting and world-building. Set in a medieval-esque world named Scadrial, the events of the novel occur primarily in a city called Luthadel. This is a place of jarring inequality where the peasant class lives in constant oppression while the nobility spend their days blissfully surrounded by luxury and ball parties. The main antagonist of the novel, The Lord Ruler, lives in a spiraling palace-tower near the center of the city called Kredik Shaw; from there he rules his empire with an iron fist, backed by powerful followers and wealthy nobles. In addition, the world The Lord Ruler governs is an endless ashfall that has altered the landscape, devoiding the vegetation we are familiar with. I’m sure you can picture how dreary it is.
Reason #4 : A cast of characters that you won’t forget!
Main characters are the eyes and ears of readers. Without them, the progression of the story would certainly grind to a halt. Thankfully, Mistborn: The Final Empire follows the perspective of three crucial characters: Vin (a thief), Kelsier (a high-risk crew leader), and Ellend (a young noble from a powerful House). While Kelsier’s vengeance towards the antagonist steamrolls the events of the story, it is Vin who undergoes major character development through the narrative. On the other hand, Ellend appears later in the story, and we only get to see his side of the story a hundred or so pages before the novel ends. Nonetheless, Ellend does question the Lord Ruler’s way of governing, so you can guess how he fits with the Rebels-vs-Evil Empire plot.
Reason #5 : What’s fantasy without magic?
There can’t be a fantasy novel without a tint of magic; Mistborn: The Final Empire is no exception. In the world of Scadrial, metals are consumed (mostly from vials) and permit a character to perform a variety of actions, ranging from pushing or pulling objects that contain metals to arousing or dampening emotions. So, certain metals follow the equivalent of Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, whereas other metals produce a certain effect because the author defined them that way. Regardless, this by-the-book type of magic allows characters to soar over Luthadel’s buildings, fight soldiers armed to the teeth with shields and blades, and make persuasion a whole lot easier.
While the rest of the series expands upon the magic system and lore of the world, Mistborn: The Final Empire serves as a great introduction to what epic fantasy offers. The prose is digestible to any reader regardless of whether they read fantasy or not. I never got around to reading the rest of the trilogy because I don’t have the dedication to pour hours into it, so I treated The Final Empire as a standalone. If you’re like me, then read it! If not, then read it too. This novel will be worth your time.
Looks like that’s it! See you around :)