Review: Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

Having read across a few different genres, my fantasy experience was limited to the famous books – Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, Eragon and a few manga series. I was interested in exploring more fantasy and I found out about the types of magic systems in fantasy stories ranging from soft systems to hard systems. LOTR being very soft and Harry Potter somewhere in between. I found out that this new writer Brandon Sanderson was doing hard magic systems very well and has become THE modern fantasy author to read. So, I checked out his Mistborn series and the synopsis seemed interesting. The magic system in particular seemed different. So I decided to get the first part on Kindle. I’ll just read the first and if I don’t like it, I’ll not read the other two.

In this world crafted by Sanderson, there are three intricate magic systems and a compelling cast of characters living in a very bleak world. Volcanic ash keeps falling from the sky, the plants are all brown and strange mist envelops the sky that often kills people, forcing them to stay indoors after the red sun sets. There exist a small percentage of people who can ingest powdered metals and ‘burn’ them to attain special abilities. These abilities can be physical as well as mental. Like pulling yourself away or towards metal objects, calming people’s emotions or enflaming them. Most of these magic practitioners have just one metal they can use and they are called “Mistings”. However, there is a sub-category of extremely rare people who can make use of all metals and they are known as “Mistborn”. This magic system is called “Allomancy” and has some very cool applications. This magic system is ‘hard’ because there are rules that govern it, nothing can happen just because it seems convenient to solve a problem. The Allomancer has to have sufficient quantities of the powdered metal on their person because it runs out AND one has to be trained extensively to use the abilities well.

The second system of magic (which I find more interesting) is called “Feruchemy”. The practitioners of Feruchemy have the ability to store their existing attributes into metals which have to be in contact with their body to use, instead of allomancers who ingest and use it up. Same as Allomancy, this one also uses different metals for different abilities; Feruchemy users can store up physical strength by being weak for some time, can store mental ability by conserving it and so on. One of the lead characters uses super eyesight for a short period of time and later has to use thick spectacles for weeks to restore his reserves of sharp eyesight. Allomancy is limitless if you have enough metals but Feruchemy is much more finite and needs to be conserved before it can be used all at once.

So, in this bleak world of perpetual ash, fatal mists, red sun and brown plants, a group of Mistings with a Mistborn at their helm decide to overthrow the god-like powerful king and rid the world of his tyranny. The king has created a society of aristocracy where the poor are treated like slaves and our heroes want to restore balance in the world. The crew’s leader Kelsier is a powerful Mistborn and chances upon another mistborn, a girl named Vin who is unaware of her abilities. He recruits her and trains her in Allomancy. This team is tasked with the impossible: kill the Lord Ruler who is unbeatable with some awesome powers beyond both Allomancy and Feruchemy. And that’s just the story of Book One!

The stakes get higher and more complex in the subsequent books. The tone of this trilogy is a lot darker than say, Harry Potter which is much lighter in the initial books and progressively gets darker as the stakes get higher. I am a sucker for really good endings and the way this trilogy ended compelled me to pen down my thoughts on it and recommend it.

Do you know that feeling when you read something so incredible, you look up at the wall and say Wow. That’s what I audibly said while reading this series; especially the ending. It was that good. This is what I love about reading books so much: although they’re just black ink on white paper, they can bring out some very strong emotions in us. This epic fantasy trilogy managed that on many chapters. Near the end as I saw the percentage on the ebook go beyond 90%, I found myself wanting to read slower to make it last longer, but I was also very eager to know what happens in the end!

Brandon has showcased extraordinary storytelling skills with each of the three books. The stakes get higher, new powers are gained and the end of the world is near. Our heroes battle all sorts of monsters both outside and within as we see them struggle with many moral issues as well.

I am very eager to re-read Mistborn trilogy but Sanderson has put out a plethora of epic fantasy series which are all loosely interconnected so I’m looking forward to start another of his stories soon.

I rate Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy as follows:

Book 1 – The Final Empire: Four stars for the diverse and powerful characters, the bleak setting, the fresh magic systems and the very cool face off between the protagonists and the antagonist at the end.

Book 2: The Well of Ascension – Four stars for the greater stakes, the moral questions our protagonists struggle with and the fabulous twists at the end. More characters are introduced and we get a glimpse into the inner workings of the higher forces and the third magic system.

Book 3: The Hero of Ages – 5 solid stars for the complete revelation of the real powers at play, the third and most destructive magic system and more importantly the fantastic ending; how it all comes together to a nice blend. All answers are answered and we get the satisfying conclusion. The extensive planning that went into the trilogy is seen clearly here. Each new book answers some of the questions while adding a few more questions and it all comes together beautifully in the last part.

Overall a solid 5 star series. With this series, I now have high expectations for the other works by BranSan and I think I won’t be disappointed.

I would recommend this series to new readers as well, because of the fast paced writing and vivid world building. Although, if you are an absolute beginner reader, you would have a better time starting with Harry Potter but right after that you can jump to the Mistborn Trilogy.

You can check out the books on amazon using these links:

Non-affiliate link (no benefits for me)

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Have you read this series? Would you pick up the first book? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

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