I recently read Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, followed closely by the sequel, The Well of Ascension. I was supposed to read Mistborn for the Atlas Book Club selection in July. For those who don’t know, the Atlas Book Club was started by Sterling of Fragmentary Blue. I was going to save my comments on Mistborn for the book club meeting, but we’re on hiatus at the moment. I don’t know when the next meeting is going to happen, and I don’t want to forget what I’ve been thinking about.
First off, general impressions. I really enjoyed reading Mistborn. The story hooked me in and the final half was very compelling. I stayed up until 3:30am on a work night to finish it; I just couldn’t put it down. It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, and it probably doesn’t make my top ten list, but it was darn good. As a writer, Brandon Sanderson is good—he tells a good story, but doesn’t stand up to such giants as George R. R. Martin or Robin Hobb as far as quality of writing.
Sanderson has a few narrative habits that started to get on my nerves. He uses the word “however” a lot, even in dialogue, which sounds very stilted. He uses the phrase “So-and-so paused” a lot during dialogue. He uses dashes a lot when he’s describing action scenes, presumably to help him describe complicated maneuvers that are happening at the same time.
And the action is very complicated indeed. The magic is very visual and makes for really exciting, action-packed fight scenes that would look freaking awesome on a movie screen. Sometimes I couldn’t read fast enough. The fights were a real pleasure to read. The magic system is intricate and concrete, which I liked. There was just enough mystery to make it was fun to discover how it worked as the narrative progressed, but it was concrete enough that I had fun coming up with new ways it might be used later on.
There were also some great surprises and plot twists that I totally didn’t see coming. Even my wife, who always figures things out long before me, was surprised by some of the plot twists. The pacing was good, with plenty of intrigue, character conflicts, discovery, and action to keep things moving.
I recommend Mistborn to any fan of fantasy books. The sequel was good, too, though I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first book. I was happy to find a signed hardback copy at Sam Weller’s Books in Salt Lake. If The Memory of Light turns out to be good, Sanderson’s signature might turn out to be pretty valuable.