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Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Review by Steve Sawicki
Tor Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 076531178x
Date: 25 July, 2006 List Price $27.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

This new entry into the fantasy trilogy arena delves into the consequences that ensue when the prophesied hero fails in the quest. It will be interesting to see how the story unfolds as the players deal with the tale's departure from archetype.

Mistborn fits the classic quest parameters; a young woman plucked from the depths of crime and despair by a shady character who seems to have big plans and not a few run-ins with destiny, who sets out to train her amid a world that has been beaten down by some mysterious power until even the inhabitants don't know how things got that way. Vin is the heroine and Kelsier the rogue who sets her on the path to power, teaching her the way of allomancy (not to be confused with alomancy), the magic that uses the ingestion of metals for power. Vin is taught not just magic but the ways of high society as a means to glean information from those in power at the frequent balls they hold. Soon she finds herself in the middle of intrigue as the world seems poised for rebellion and collapse.

Sanderson has created an interesting world that could be the far future wreck of a technologically dependent society or simply the domination and repression of a race under a powerful, very long lived dictator. As with any quest there are numerous tales of heroes and hidden magic and portents that will signal the time of change. In this case it is the return of a specific individual from a specific place. Kelsier seems to fit this prophecy as he has returned from a seemingly sure death with information about the hidden metal. The magic system in the book is based on the ingestion of metal with each metal giving off a different effect. As Kelsier begins teaching Vin how to use her powers he finds her a ready student and a powerful one as well, perhaps more powerful than she has any right to be. So, armed with prophecy, a young woman of promise, and knowledge of the one ring, sorry, metal, to rule them all, he puts things in motion.

Putting things in motion is an apt way to describe this book as it is the first in a trilogy. Sanderson does an excellent job of laying the ground work, of establishing both the world and the characters and in developing the major plot lines to be explored. The premise of the book is set upon the question "what if the hero fails?" and I'll be interested to see what Sanderson's answer is. While it's hard to judge a trilogy based only on the first book, this first book holds a lot of promise. Definitely worth a read.

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