Mistborn: The Final Empire
by Brandon Sanderson
672pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 7.5/10
Amazon Rating: 5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.48/5
Good Reads Rating: 4.5/5

Mistborn: The Final Empire is the first book in the Mistborn series and the second novel written by Brandon Sanderson, the author selected to complete the final novel in the Wheel of Time series. The second book in the series, The Well of Ascension, is currently out in hardcover and the final book, The Hero of Ages, has a scheduled release date of October 20, 2008.

The immortal Lord Ruler has been both a leader and god to the people ever since he came to power and saved them approximately a thousand years ago. He has gifted some of the nobility, who were his allies during the time of his ascension, with special abilities known as Allomancy and forbidden them to breed with the commoners for fear of passing this power on to children not of pure noble blood. An Allomancer is one who can perform magic using metals he or she has swallowed. Mistings are those who can activate one metal and use its power. Mistborn, more rare than Mistings, are those Allomancers who can use all the known types of metal and their powers.

The skaa (commoners) have been oppressed and subject to the whims of the noble class ever since the beginning of the Lord Ruler’s reign. One of these, a Mistborn named Kelsier, has become a legend among his people as the only one to survive the punishment of being sent to the infamous Pits of Hathshin. Kelsier’s brother tells him of Vin, a 16-year-old Mistborn street girl he detected, and Kelsier invites her to join his band of thieves and begins training her with her powers. Under the leadership of Kelsier, Vin and other skaa rebels form a plan to do the impossible – overthrow the Final Empire and its Lord Ruler.

The book was a bit slow in the beginning as it introduced the characters and skaa life, but it was nearly impossible for me to put down during the nonstop action of the last 100 pages or so. The story focuses on politics and planning a lot, but it also includes some really spectacular fight scenes. The fights are based on skill with Allomancy and using clever tricks to outsmart your opponent rather than merely whacking each other with weaponry, and some of the descriptions were quite well done. It certainly had some of the more fun fight scenes I can remember reading.

The magic system was unique and interesting, but it had its disadvantages as well as its advantages. It was refreshing to have magic following a set of rules instead of just being unexplained mysticism, but on the other hand, sometimes it would have been nice if a little were left to the imagination rather than all the descriptions of how Allomancy worked. Kelsier’s training of Vin reminded me of tutorials in RPGs where you are learning how to use your character and what all the different controls do. I also found it really hard to get over the swallowing metal part of it – all I could think of is how unhealthy that sounded. (I know, kind of silly to get hung up on that in a fantasy book, but I just kept wondering why at least some of these people weren’t dying from poisoning even if it was semi-explained.)

I liked the characters, but none of them were particularly unique or well-developed, although I did enjoy that they were fairly contemplative and thoughtful at times, particularly about religion, friendship, and betrayal. My favorite was Elend, the eccentric nobleman, but I came to love Vin as well as the story went on. I will not spoil the details of the ending, but I felt like some of it did not fit with the characters’ actions through that point in time. The ending was also a bit rushed, and one part of the story that had potential to be very compelling was wrapped up in an unsatisfactory manner.

It may sound like I did not enjoy this book since I am being so critical of it, but the truth is, once I got past the slow beginning, I really had a lot of fun reading it. It did not live up to the expectations I had for it based on what I had heard about it, but that was mainly because I had some preconceived notions about the story that were false. It was not as original a story as I had been anticipating, but it was still very enjoyable with a unique world/magic system and more examination of it than most epic fantasy books offer. I will definitely be picking up the sequel.

Mistborn: The Final Empire was a strong and fun sophomore effort. It was nothing extraordinary, but it is certainly worth the time of epic fantasy fans.


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I finished Mistborn: The Final Empire this afternoon, so I should have a review of it up in the next couple of days. Because of this, I closed the poll and put up a few one. The winner of the previous one was Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, so that will be up next.

If The Healthy Dead were to win, I would also reread and review the first Malazan novella by Steven Erikson, Blood Follows.


Since I’ve been indecisive lately, I put up a poll on what to read and review after Mistborn: The Final Empire. Feel free to leave suggestions not on that list as comments here and if enough people want me to read something else, I may be convinced to do so (as long as it’s something I actually have – I don’t think I should buy any more books right now since I got a bunch around Christmas and made two orders in the last month). Speculative fiction books I own are all listed in my librarything account and unread books are in my goodreads account (both are linked on the right toward the bottom under “Networks”).

Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to read this week so I have not yet finished Mistborn: The Final Empire so I could write a review of it. However, I did come across an interview with the author on Omnivoracious, mostly about completion of the final Wheel of Time book. Sanderson said he is currently rereading the entire series before starting work on the book this month. A Memory of Light is scheduled to be released in 2009.

Brandon Sanderson, the author who will be writing the final Wheel of Time book, has a limited number of signed hardcover copies of the first book in his Mistborn trilogy available on his website for $20 each. Last month I got a signed first edition copy of this book off of bookcloseouts.com (they’re all out now, unfortunately) since it should be a good collector’s item someday… plus I just love signed books. I’m a little over 100 pages into it now, and so far it is good. The Well of Ascension, the second book in the series, is currently out in hardcover, and the final book The Hero of Ages is scheduled to be released in October 2008.

Also available on Sanderson’s website is a free copy of his forthcoming novel Warbreaker. This is not a polished, finished novel, but the author wanted to make one of his books free under a Creative Commons license and also thought it would be a nice way to allow readers to contribute to the novel. It’s an interesting experiment, and I’ll be curious to see if he will do it again.

At the end of Warbreaker, Sanderson also included excerpts from some of his other books – his award-winning debut novel Elantris, Mistborn: The Final Empire, and his young adult novel Alcatraz: Versus the Evil Librarians. (The first line of Alcatraz cracked me up.)

The Book of JobyThe Book of Joby

The Book of Joby
by Mark J. Ferrari
640pp (Hardcover)
My Rating: 9/10
Amazon Rating: 5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4/5
Good Reads Rating: 5/5

Now that it is 2008, I have found a book published in 2007 that is above all the others I read last year and would have been on my favorites list if I’d read it before the end of the year. That book is Mark J. Ferrari’s debut novel, The Book of Joby, a modern-day retelling of the biblical story of Job including elements of the King Arthur legends. It is not a part of a series but rather an actual stand-alone novel.

When Lucifer hears that God and the angel Gabriel are sipping lattes in a coffee shop in New England, he drops in on them to make a bet with the Creator. Over the years, the devil has placed “that same stupid bet” with God – that he can make one of his people willingly turn to evil – even though he has only been able to win two previous bets: Eve and Judas Iscariot. This time the stakes are high; if Lucifer is able to corrupt God’s chosen candidate, all of God’s creation will be destroyed and redesigned according to the devil’s instructions.

Nine year old Joby loves to pretend he is a knight from the book on King Arthur given to him by his grandfather. He even forms the Roundtable Club at his school and encourages others in the group to do good deeds and help out the other children. The future appears bright until Joby begins to have problems with school and his parents. Joby’s life only gets worse as he gets older and God is forbidden to help him no matter how much Joby pleads.

The Book of Joby was one of those rare books that immediately drew me in and was hard to put down after the second page or so. It did drag for a little while in the middle, but it picked up again almost as soon as I started thinking it was getting off track.

The story may not sound original since it is partially based on two very famous stories, but these well-known tales were intertwined in a way that formed an imaginative, unique fantasy. Certain parts of the story were predictable; however, this did not bother me since I felt that these occurrences were supposed to be clear to everyone but the characters. It did not feel like a case of the author thinking “Aha! I am so clever and nobody will guess what I am doing!” while all the readers are thinking “This guy thinks he’s being so smart but any moron would be able to tell where this story is headed.” I did not care that I was not shocked when the characters were surprised at new knowledge but just enjoyed watching events unfold and reading about how they reacted.

On the subject of the characters, I loved Joby, Laura, God, Gabriel, Michael, and even Lucifer, whose interactions with God and his angels were highly entertaining. The characters were well-drawn, and developed as the story moved along, even some who may be expected to be pretty static at this point after being alive for so long.

This was not a fantasy story that had sword-fighting, a medieval setting, elves, or any of the other tropes commonly associated with the genre. It was about one man’s struggle against greater odds, the ways in which the Creator and Lucifer tried to outsmart each other, and the hard decision’s some of God’s people/angels had to make with a little bit of philosophy on free will thrown in. The Book of Joby is a diverse book that will make you feel anger, joy, or despair at times, but keeps you smiling with the bits of humor that are weaved throughout the book.

The prose was fairly straightforward but it contained a larger vocabulary than a lot of books I’ve read recently and had several turns of phrase that made it quite enjoyable.

I would highly recommend The Book of Joby to anyone who enjoys a good book, especially if they are tired of reading generic, mundane fantasy and would like a more thoughtful story to read.


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