Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review of "Mistborn: The Final Empire" by Brandon Sanderson

Seeming to leap directly from the fingertips of a video game lover – or at least with the hope of someday translating the story to the cg screen – such is Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn.  Exciting in a simplistic but entertaining fashion, the magic and action in Mistborn:The Final Empire crackle.  

Both baddies and goodies use metallurgy in varying degrees to enhance their physical and mental powers or control other metals.  The group in power, led by the immortal and omnipotent Dark Lord, seeks to maintain the status quo of slavery via aristocracy, while an underground faction fights to topple the 1000 year regime from without.  In the clashes that occur between the two sides, the excitement of discovering how the ability to send a coin flying like a bullet or the ability to see two seconds into the future moves the well-written action sequences to highly satisfying conclusions.  And in the duels and cabals that unfold, not all the characters you hope will survive, survive, lending credence to Sanderson’s plotting; there are no good fantasy books which do not kill off some of the goodies.  

That being said, the book is not without its faults.  Eschewing a thesaurus, Sanderson does not prove himself a wordsmith in Mistborn: The Final Empire.  Though not juvenile, the narration is simplistic and easy to follow to say the least.  As a result, the dialogue can often seem contrived, the background and movement of the story related by cardboard heads in large chunks of text rather than subtly through character action or indirect speech.  Had Sanderson employed an expanded lexis and sought to use more than dialogue to relate information, then characterization and background for the action would certainly have benefited.

In the end, for those who enjoy video games, wholly original systems of magic, and fast, action paced plots, Mistborn: The Final Empire is for them.  However, if you are looking for something more literary, with characters and ideas which strike at what is real in humanity and in more realistic terms - shades of gray as it were - then perhaps your time could be best spent on other books.  This is fun, light reading, nothing deeper.

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