The Final Empire (Mistborn Book One) – Brandon Sanderson

The mists rule the night... 

The Lord Ruler owns the world.

For a thousand years the ash fell... For a thousand years, the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years, the Lord Ruler reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Every attempted revolt has failed miserably. 

Yet somehow hope survives. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the courage of an unlikely heroine, a Skaa street urchin, who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a mistborn. 

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Year: 2009
Publisher: Gollancz
Rating: 5/5

Vin is a Skaa street urchin. She lives with a band of thieves, doing what she can to survive. Vin has had a rough life, she doesn't trust anyone. The men she works with are the type who will stab each other in the back in a second, if it meant wealth or power for themselves. Being female, Vin must also fear the men who feel they can take advantage of her because she is a woman. Little does Vin know, she is not a regular Skaa woman. Vin has noble blood and special noble blood at that. She is mistborn.

Kelsier is a criminal and the only survivor of the pits of Hathsin. He is putting together a Skaa rebellion. He recruits Vin (and others of the underworld elite) when he senses she has power. Vin is a strong Allomancer, meaning she can ingest and burn a variety of metals which give her power abilities. Kelsier takes Vin under his wing and trains her in Allomancy, so she can recognise her power and help him overthrow the nobility and the Lord Ruler.

Vin is given the task of pretending to be a noble lady, and infiltrating the noble houses to find out information that can help them with their plan. Too bad Vin meets Elend, a young noble who does not agree that the Skaa should be treated like slaves and disagrees with the Lord Ruler's way of running his empire. Possibly falling in love with a member of the elite class was not a part of the plan.

Politics play an important part in the empire. Skaa are at the bottom, followed by the nobility, the obligators, the Steel Inquisitors and the all powerful Lord Ruler. The Lord Ruler is considered a god. He is immortal and all powerful. He is protected by the Steel Inquisitors, frightening beings who have large metal spikes through their eyes, which give them power. Between the Inquisitors and the Lord Ruler, the empire is unbreakable. That is not enough to stop Kelsier.

Hope. This is what sets Kelsier apart from the rest. Even though he feels their task may be in vain, he has hope that a better future awaits the Skaa. A future free of pain, suffering and slavery. He will stop at nothing to achieve this.

Religion was also important in this novel. Sazed, a keeper of knowledge, talked about the different religions that once were practiced in this world and their distinctions. Not unlike the variety of religions we have in our world. Philosophical questions were also pondered by Ham. Although physically looking like a thug, ham is intelligent and a thinker, always questioning the world and it's ways. On one level, this novel is a fun, action-packed fantasy, on another it is a novel which wants to make it's reader think.

This was a fantastic book. The characters in this novel... Vin, Kelsier, Elend, Ham, Breeze, Sazed... were all so well fleshed out with distinct personalities, I really came to enjoy and care about them all. 

The politics in this novel were interesting... As the blurb on the front of the book says, "Imagine if the Dark Lord won?". The class system in this novel was multilayered. Obviously Sanderson put a lot of thought into creating a world that was complex.

At 643 pages long, and the first book in a trilogy, The Final Empire contains so much that I can not possibly talk about it all here and I really feel like I cannot do this novel justice. There are the stories of the Terrismen, Feruchemy, Hemalurgy, Mistwraiths and Kandra....All I can say is read it for yourself, you will not be disappointed.
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