Book Review: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Holy crap, this book took me a long time to read. I’m a slow reader already by my own admission, but I really struggled with this one. It’s not a bad book. It’s really a rather good book. My molasses dripping through a sieve rate was due to the fact that even though a lot happens throughout the course of this first book in the trilogy, at times it really felt like not a lot was happening. There are limited point of view characters in Mistborn, and, for the most part, they are all part of a group of people subjugated by the big bad known as the Lord Ruler. The plot follows the path of crew of thieves plots rebellion to overthrow evil dictator.

Brandon Sanderson as an author managed to shake things up just often enough that it would spur me on toward the last one hundred pages of the novel. Much like I reacted to Brian McClellan’s Promise of Blood, I tore through the climax and resolution. Slogging through the set up of the rebellion and the various muddles that appeared throughout the novel definitely paid off in the end as I found the conclusion satisfying, and if I had been a more keen reader, I might have even picked up on the twist that the author sprinkled little hints of throughout the book. Sanderson does an excellent job of making characters that you want to know what happens to in the end. His world building is excellent as well. The magic system is in depth and makes sense, and the entire social order he set up with the aristocracy and the skaa felt believable and real.

There are a few things that I had a difficult time with. The first, and already mentioned, is that even though a lot of set up is occurring, most of the time it feels like nothing is really happening. Some of this may be perception based on my part, as I had just finished reading the first two Sandman Slim novels prior to picking up Mistborn, and both of those threw event on top of event. It also felt that a lot of the potential action happened outside of the narrative. I’m not expecting an 80’s action movie with every book I pick up, but dropping in some intense action can go a long way toward the pacing of the narrative. My last major issue is with the ultimate nasty henchmen of the book, the steel inquisitors. They’re built up as these horribly difficult monsters to deal with. They’re nigh invincible. At the start of the climax, one gets dealt with, but of course there are more. The rest of the steel inquisitors that are present in the city of Luthadel get dealt with via Deus Ex Machina, and it was a little unsatisfying for me. I have a bigger issue with them, but it’s also a major spoiler, so I’ll let it lie.

What’s the takeaway you ask? Chances are you’ve already read some of Brandon Sanderson and know whether or not you enjoy his writing. If you’ve been sitting on the fence for one reason or another like I had, I’d say “Buy the ticket. Take the ride.”


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