This book…wow, that is all i can say. I tried writing this review hours after i finally finished reading the book last Sunday, but what was produced was really nothing less than messy. That is how much of my mind was bedazzled by this book, that i couldn’t condense everything i thought in a page or two, instead ranting on and on about every little thing that i loved, which was a lot. Or maybe i am easy to please.
But this book, mist born, saying that i was blown away doesn’t quite justify it. Sure there were one or two elements that i disliked; but none the less, i can safely say that i have not read a book as good as this in ages.
The last time i had this much fun reading a book, especially wrapping up its last hundred or so pages, i was still in school, it was a Saturday morning and i was in bed trying to finish deathly hollows.
The last good book i read was Gardens of the moon three weeks or so ago and this book, at least according to me, blows it out of the water. It is rare that i a m so completely satisfied by a book. In most cases, even with the most impressive of books, i am left slightly nodding and thinking “Hmm, not bad.”
Gardens of the moon was pretty impressive and even that only got a “Hmm, pretty good from me.” Mist born:the final empire had me screaming in my head the whole time, especially during the last one hundred pages. I was left feeling both entertained and disturbed, and that is because the ending in this book didn’t only pull off epicenes, it devastated, leaving me utterly speechless and wondering if what i had just read had really happened.
Ahh, i am ranting on again. I can’t help it though. This book was simply…i can’t find a suitable word, which probably says more about the quality of books i have read in teh lat few years, not bad, but never amazing.
Most born opens up in an ostensibly dark time for humanity, an age where a world was threatened, a prophecy was given regarding its salvation, and the prophecy failed. It is a world in which heroes came and went, wholly acquiescing to the supreme oppression of a truly indomitable threat.
For one thousand years the world has suffered under the tyrannical rule of their emperor, their king, christened god by some, the lord ruler. Once prophesized as the mighty hero, destined to travel to the well of ascension and save humanity from the deepness, this once honorable being would instead lose his way through the myriad of power he was confronted with, then, rather than saving the world, condemning the it to a nearly endless age of death and misery under his immovable and invincible iron fist.
In the present day, the lord ruler continues his reign in the last and final empire of man. Ash falls endlessly from the sky engulfing the entire world in gray and coating cities in black soot. One hundred strong work forces spend their days sweeping mounds upon mounds of ash from streets and houses. At night mysterious mists pour across the land, within which mythical dangers lurk, the most dangerous of which are the mist wraiths, gripping entire populations in fear over what lies in the dark.
The lord ruler’s ever watching eye asserts its dominating control through the nobles, those men and women whose ancestors assisted the lord ruler’s campaign a thousand years ago and whom he has chosen to repay not only through their vast wealth and power but through allomancy, a powerful skill of magic and science, the users of which take the title mistings, prevalent only within those of noble blood and with which the nobility executes the lord ruler’s will.
Where they fail, the obligators and inquisitors, men and women ruling and governing in the ruler’s ministries and churches ensure that peace and subservience reigns, and when they fail, are empowered with summoning the steel inquisitors, monsters in men’s clothes, creatures endowed with great power and whose mere presence in the single digits is rumored to strike fear in armies numbering thousands.
The skaa, above all races have for a thousand years received the miserable brunt of the lord ruler’s tyrannical rule; for generations the skaa have suffered untold evils at the hands of the final empire, treated as second class citizens and enslaved on the obligators and nobles many farms, where their casual mistreatment, torture and wanton death has become a lesser crime that kicking one’s own dog.
It is in this context that the story of mist born kicks off; in a world where a god has come to live before men and the law stands in the hands of the less deserving to enforce, a small group of well trained skaa thieves rise up to perform a daring act, the likes of which has never been attempted and which, if executed, will shake the empire’s faith in its ruler.
Born as slaves, well trained in the behaviors of nobility and, as a result of their mixed nobility blood, blessed with allomancy in the form of an ability to burn one of the ten allomantic metals and achieve power from within, these skaa have lived among nobility and stolen from them, earning the reputation of a first class thieving crew, whilst benefitting from their vast ill gained riches.
Yet what they intend of attempt, the job they were hired to do, isn't like anything they have ever faced. Before the year is out, they will initiate a heist consisting of several highly specialized and sensitive jobs the purpose of which will culminate in executing the core of the job they were hired for, stealing the lord' ruler’s vast collection of atium, the most expensive mental in the world, from his headquarters and palace in the great city of Luthadel, basically the lord ruler’s own home.
The task, they accept, will challenge their skills and capabilities on every level, possibly even proving fatal in choosing to test a god that has all but proven to be invincible and whose wrath, if they are discovered, will prove to be inescapable.
Yet they hold steadfast in taking what should be a suicide mission, for in their possession is a weapon, an element that will make all the difference once all the chips are down and they begin down the road of mayhem and chaos.
They have a mist born, an misting of great rarity, whose allomantic abilities lie not in burning one of the ten metals and attaining its power but in the ability that all mist borns have, to burn all ten metals and attain all ten great powers contained with in, an entity born of the mist that hates nobility with his every being and will not rest until he has unleashed untold chaos upon all that the lord ruler and his precious nobles hold dear…
I am going to try to explain what i liked about this book in as concise and brief a manner as possible, without ranting on and on for too long as i tend to do when i write about something i am this excited about.
1. The writing- I usually do not feel the need to say much about the writing style of a book, but i loved what Sanderson did with Mist born. He made everything so simple, avoiding all those complex flowery statements and sentences that most books tend to aim for. I mean, just read gardens of the moon which i will keep referring to because i just read it and it is easier to make comparisons. Sanderson does not do gardens of the moon type writing styles. There are no florid sentences and complicated words in this book. It is simple and basic statement of events, without an attempt to impress on a literary level. As such this book was easy easy to read and it simply flowed, as opposed to gardens of the moon which had moments i literally struggled to get through. Gardens of the moon is the kind of book you simply can’t speed read, especially when you re excited and want to see what happens next, because if you intend to read each and every word instead of skipping over entire lines once you have the general idea behind it, you will have to take your time.
2.The Lord ruler- this is the sort of element i would normally put in the character segment. But it thought he deserved separate consideration. This is kind of villain that makes a book fun to read, mind you he literally doesn’t appear except in mention and at the end. But it is surprising how much of an impact his existence has. The lord rule is the sort of villain that isn’t winning, he has won. He is basically the hero turned villain who got to keep all his hero mojo. The lord ruler hasn’t been sitting in his palace in peace for a thousand years. He has been tried and tested over and over again to the point that their is not point trying anymore. When it is revealed that the skaa would never rise up against their god, it initially makes them out to be cowards, till you realize that these slaves have had hope after hope rise and fall over and over again in their life times. Kings will rise, monks, priests, leaders of great tribes, young, old, male and female, each brining forth some new secret means with which to beat the lord ruler, be it a new metal, a new attack, new weapons, a new skill and each has failed. Basically promised heroes have risen for a thousand years and each time they have fallen.
This isn’t a villain waiting for a courageous hero to rise up and challenge him. This is a villain that has faced endless brave heroes, some of which have pushed him into a corner, and he has beaten them all. We are talking about a villain who once spoke of a great hero that once challenge him, dragged him into isolation and beheaded him. And he still triumphed. This is the kind of situation that automatically hooks you, because by the start, you know this isn’t a story about a band of brothers that arise up to beat the villain, because you are clearly educated that the villain might merely make claims of godhood, but they have proved it time and time again. There is no beating him, simply adapting to his presence.
3. The skaa- these guys play the role of the damsel in distress that will not be saved. They spend their days working out on farms for ungrateful masters for no pay, sweeping ash continuously out of the roads and streets, all the while receiving the hostile intentions of nobility who have for so long considered them to be less than human that they and the skaa have come to believe it. I remember reading one scene where one the characters, Vin, a young girl, doesn’t understand how a certain group of skaa can so easily refer to themselves as less than nobles. Indeed the fact that they consider their own selves as nothing less than dogs that deserve nothing more than the vileness of man can make for some heart wrenching scenes. These people will suffer and die every day under the boot of nobility, watch their families and friends slaughtered in front of them for the smallest failings and not once will they consider rising up. They stand as much of an obstacle against their own salvation as the lord ruler does.
4. Nobility- I loved the fact that only nobility could use magic. It wasn’t a matter of simply learning what the higher ups didn’t want you to learn. Only those with noble blood were capable of using the magical art, which is why whenever a noble made use of a skaa prostitute ( or really slept with a skaa women for nay reason), they would kill her before the sun was up to prevent half blood skaa from coming into the world and empowering the lowly race. Every time it seemed like the odds were stacked against the heroes (not really heroes though), their was always a revelation made later that somehow managed to make the picture that much more worse. And the nobility were one such revelation. That the skaa could fight against the lord rule and his army, yet mere nobles, those lords and ladies that spent their days drinking could incinerate them in the hundreds was that much more demoralizing.
yet the nobility’s relationship with the primary protagonist kelsier also made for intriguing reading. It was a question of whether the vile actions of the majority of them justified his increasingly violent and destructive actions against them. While i loved this character and had to root for his cause, it was sometimes uncomfortable to watch him work in his element, the careless and cheerful manner with which he would wreak havoc upon all that crossed his path, men and women.
5. The characters- nothing short of brilliant. It has been a while since i loved reading a book this much, i said that already. More importantly though, it has been AGES since i read a book where the characters were so awesome. I like the fact that, probably because of Sanderson’s simplistic writing, they were a clearly delineated bunch, a cast that you could easily remember and picture based on very brief description; and their personalities were nothing short of charming and endearing, despite being good or evil. I loved kelsier as the charismatic leader, the survivor of hathsin as they called him, so kind and gentle in his relationship with those that had suffered under the empire, yet utterly ruthless against those that would perpetrate the empire’s evil. There was this one scene where Dockson or Breeze, do not remember which, is narrating the misery of the skaa and how some had had to turn to the Lord ruler’s service to provide for their family and keep them safe. And mere pages later, kelsier brutally murders a group of skaa guards, skaa that had taken up positions in the final empire; to any reading eye they had made a desperate move, to kelsier they were nothing short of traitors un-deserving of his pity.
The fact that he could be a champion of good in one frame and a bringer of death in another was somewhat intriguing. Kelsier is never advertised as the good guy. He is a thief for pits sake and he has been for a while. Even when he was filthy rich, it is said that he was unable to give up the thrill of defrauding the rich and taking their hard earned money. None the less he was hard to hate and the more he embraced his craziness, the easier it was to like him.
I liked the fact that even his own people, the crew that would trust their lives to him, doubted him, that they feared his rage, hate and greed world turn him into the very thing many had fought against for a millennium once they acquired their target. I know the book was that much better to read when he was in play.
Vin was another gem of the novel. As a skaa girl whose father would have had her mother killed to prevent her half blood progeny, a girl whose life was nothing but one moment of misery and betrayal from all those she trusted after another, there couldn’t have been a better heroine in a fantasy book. Her relationship with Kelsier was dynamic and sometime explosive. These two stole every scene they took part in together and i just loved their conversations which, in some cases were more fun than actual story related events in the book. To tell all that endeared her to me would be to spoil the book in a major way. just know that it will be hard to find any characters with a personality as dynamic as hers and a story as sympathetic and hooking as hers.
If this book was just these characters simply sitting around, talking and doing little else, i might still read it, because there personalities and purposes in the book were that intriguing to read and follow. I hate books were everyone is so vague that can’t distinguish one person from the other.
6. The antagonists- this isn’t just the lord ruler but those that worked within his empire, specifically the obligators and inquisitors. They made the world that much more complete and well shaped, especially the steel inquisitors. They made those last one hundred pages that much more epic. Epicenes in gardens of the moon is about over the top scenes with flying dragons, exploding hills and all that. Mist born didn’t come anywhere near that scale of events. In fact most scenes were restricted to a street or two, yet that didn’t prevent the book from achieving an epic finale. The secret lay in the steel inquisitors and Sanderson’s ability to create a powerful mythology and air of fear around them, to the point that one steel inquisitor in a scene was more than enough to morph it from benign into sheer epicenes.
7. The world- the world was complete. I like having a clear picture of the world the characters and stories i am reading about reside in. And Sanderson didn’t disappoint, using simplistic means to allow us to slowly gain an understanding of what encompassed the world that our characters inhabited. I loved the effect the mist and ash had on the story of each scene. It created an ostensible world of gloom and failure, and the fact that even those events were a mystery, that no one knew where the ash came from and the source of the mist and why it swirled around those using allomancy, allowed the story to evolve rapidly with each new revelation while allowing for an air mystery to remain.
8. The magic- one of the best things in this book is the magic. First of all i do not like magical systems that a book creates which are basically generic copies of everything that has been done. I would rather a story doesn’t unwrap the magic and instead introduce it as nebulous entity filled mostly with mystery and wonder with regards to how everything works than creating something that has been done before. I also hate magic systems that are so complicated that they make no sense. Mist born has the best magical system i have ever encountered. I like the scientific link to it as well, the fact that you do not simply throw your hands out and make miracles but that there are ten different metals and each, when injested and burnt produces a unique power that one can only use so long as their fuel, the metal they ingested in the solution they drunk, is still in existence.
The magic occurs on a less explosive level.There is no throwing of lightening or random summoning of fire. Each metal, when burnt, allows one to execute a unique skill. if i remember correctly, one allowed a misting to pull metals and another to push, which most mistings could use to fly by anchoring themselves to metals such a windows or door handles. One of the most impressive uses i read was Kelsier’s habit of throwing a coin down or against an object (of greater weight that his own), pushing against it and flying in the opposite direction (or pulling it towards him depending on the weight). There were so many ways…i am spoiling things. There were metals to push or pull emotions, in other words rioting or soothing, enhancing one’s physical strength…i actually don’t remember all of them, except for atium that was so powerful that those who swallowed it attained near invincibility.
The magical system is created for practicality. The smarter you are the better use you will make of your metals and ensure efficient execution of your plans, sort of like how Breeze would soothe the emotions of skaa that had come to listen to Kelsier. Breeze’s purpose was to make them more perceptive to his leader’s words. But rather than outright control them it was more a matter of knowing which emotion to increase or reduce, such as rioting their fear when they didn’t seem to take Kelsier’s warnings too seriously and all that. Basically there was more fun in reading the use of magic in this book than with any other book i have read in a long long time. I also liked how restricted its use was. There were clear rules to follow and Sanderson didn’t deviate from them at any one point.
9. The story- I love the fact that this story is both intricately deep and yet simple. This is a story about a heist. This is also a story about people, those that live in the lord ruler’s world and who have had to come to terms with his supremacy.
This story is funny and light hearted, but it is also deep. It is about the suffering of those people that the empire has determined to be nothing less than animals and the largely hopeless existences they lead.
It is about finding the will to survive from day to day and how those with power have convinced themselves for so long that they are superior to other human beings that they have numbed their consciousnesses to the evils they commit and see committed against those weaker members of the society.
This is a story about a man that hoped to become a hero but instead turned into a king; basically this isn’t a story about hope, this is the story of the illusion of hope and the power that perception of progress will have on the wills of those have been beaten down for so long that they no longer remember the concept of freedom.
I really loved the brutality of the lord ruler, especially as spoken of in history. His objective lay not in killing his enemies, the so called heroes, but in breaking them. So what if you burnt down one of empire’s outposts and disappeared into the mists. Why chase you when he can find one thousand skaa, not men and women that aided your mission, but random skaa that he can then kill in public to make his point made.
So what if you eliminate a top general in his army. Why chase you when he can burn down several dozen miles of skaa lands and farms and its inhabitants. Soon you are left asking your self a question, is it worth it, to try and fight for the skaa when they are dying that much faster?
The dialogue was brilliant and entertaining to read. The actions scenes were unique because of the unique nature of allomancy and its really interesting rules.
Mist born: The Final Empire is the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s trilogy. I first came across him when i was researching a series known as wheel of time and trying to figure out whether or not to read it. His name came up as the writer chosen to continue the series. Following the link to his page, i came across the mist born series, and wow, was that the best decision i ever made, book wise.
I loved the rather brief description. I treat my manga and my books in the completely opposite way. I love manga with very descriptive backgrounds, that create a full picture. With books i want something that is brief, that gives you a basic understanding of where you are and what is what but without going overboard.
This is where a good book like gardens of the moon and several others fail, going into excessive and unnecessary description that does nothing more than stall the book. I love how this book is so brief and gets to the point, only describing to you those elements that will intersect with the story but usually choosing to give you a hint and then leave the rest to your imagination.
I have already said it, i will say it again. This book is just…brilliant. I tried to find the words to describe what i felt when i finished it. A review i read best summed itup with the word ‘devastating’.
Those last pages were just amazing. Sure the action proved to be this book’s pitfall. Sanderson had a way of repeating himself and stalling some of the scenes by trying to overly explain each and every act in an action scene, rather than leaving a lot to the imagination and letting the plot flow.
None the less, that ending was nothing short of brilliant and shocking. That final revelation, i didn’t even begin to see it coming. There wasn’t a single moment where i thought i could sniff something fishy. I just took Sanderson’s words in without discernment until that final moment.
And that one revelation made that ending more than simply exciting, it made the finale epic. And the shocking twist before that, not only devastating but leaving a gaping hole in the book. As i read that twist i couldn’t help but wonder what the hell Sanderson was doing; hadn’t he just killed his story? What else was left to read?And the fact that Sanderson put another shorter story within the story, one that advanced along with the main story, that was just good story telling as it allowed us to follow the story of the lord ruler’s past without stalling the primary plot.
I have read the reviews, many of which point to the fact that the second book is not all that impressive. That disturbed me and kind of dampened my excitement. I am really hoping they are wrong.
I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO EVERYONE. It is probable that you might be disappointed, that this sort of fantasy isn’t for you, but i do not believe that is possible. This book is an absolute must read. I am not officially a Brandon Sanderson fan.