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  • ★★★★★-5

Review: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (Spoiler-Alert)

Well, that's kind of what trust is, isn't it? A willful self-delusion?


150 pages into reading this on my kindle, I bought the boxed set. 0 seconds after finishing, I went back through the whole thing to annotate my favorite scenes.


I am unsure if the paperback will fit into the box anymore because there are a million tabs sticking out of it. But they are necessary, because I already know I'll be returning to certain moments frequently (at least 3 of the 5 balls because... Elend <3333).


Since this is a wildly popular 600 page fantasy book, I'm gonna go back to my roots and write this review discussion-style.


Let's begin!


✣ What I Like in Fantasy ✣


I started my fantasy journey in high school and ravenously ate up series after series of practically any kind. But eventually, I hit a wall. I hadn't loved a fantasy series in quite some time. So, slowly I've been trying to figure out why that was. And I think I've cracked it.


While there are obviously exceptions, I've discovered that the type of fantasy that works for me (at the moment) is city-based, mostly concerned with political intrigue, thieves, etc. and not forest-based, mostly concerned with fairy tales, romance, etc.


I've also realized through my taste in sci-fi (and now this book!) that I adore a hopeful tale. It really puts me off when characters believe the worst in humanity and society. Throughout its arc, Mistborn does the opposite.


✣ Magic System ✣


Brandon Sanderson is known for his clever, hard magic systems, so I had high expectations going into this. They were not only met, but exceeded.


There are a few different types of magic going on in this world, the primary of which is Allomancy. Mistings and Mistborn (different echelons of Allomancers) can consume various kinds of metal in order to gain specific powers.


My favorite powers to see in action were definitely Steelpushing and Ironpulling. They have intricate properties, but follow the rules of basic physics. Seeing this played with in clever ways (like Kell holding himself perfectly within the cage thrown at him, using a spinning metal bar along with atium to block arrows, or Vin rigging up special projectiles that utilize momentum to trick the Inquisitors) was incredibly satisfying.


Along with just being cool, the magic system is also perfectly integrated into the culture of the world. It affects fashion, reputation, politics, and more. And while there are tons of details to keep track of, the way they unfold in the story is seamless and easy to follow. Sanderson also throws in hints about different magical elements to chew on before they are fully explained, adding in an addictive element of mystery.


✣ Characters ✣


If you love found family, you need to add this to your TBR immediately.


While this book contains multiple third-person perspectives, its protagonist is Vin. She's survived sixteen years of abuse at the hands of both her biological family and the thieving crews she's joined. But that all changes when she meets Kelsier and his band of thieves. At first, she can't believe it but... they're nice.


Vin's entire character arc hinges on her outlook on trust. That's why I started out my review with that specific quote. She's been taught that in this world, no one is really your friend. Everyone, everyone will eventually leave you.


Sanderson plays with this concept expertly, weaving this internal battle into nearly every aspect of the plot and causing the reader to become as paranoid and pessimistic as Vin in fear of getting hurt. This happens as she joins the new crew—does Kelsier really care about her opinion? Is she being played? Is his plan truly noble, or does he, like the Lord Ruler, only seek power and fame? And it's echoed again when she meets Elend and finds out his identity and reputation. Is she just a political pawn to him? Is he truly unlike the rest of his family? His peers? Is he a revolutionary or simply a contrarian?


Can't write this review without mentioning my man, 💕 ELEND VENTURE 💕. I mean, a little twerp who reads at balls and refuses to talk to anyone unless he means to bother them?? And he's secretly the heir to the most powerful Great House in the city but quite literally doesn't care? A self-proclaimed non-gentleman who notices Vin even though she's a newcomer and a mess and no one wants to be seen with her?


I knew I needed him as soon as Vin described him as: 'a bit annoying—in a pleasant sort of way.'


Of course, as with everyone in this book, we don't know if we can trust him. However, upon their first meeting, I wrote in the margin: 'i know i shouldn’t trust Elend but idc i’d let him seduce me.' And I stand by those words.


I also actually perished when he complimented her dress while pretending to read and kept obviously sneaking glances at her. AND ALSO WHEN HE GAVE HER HIS HANDKERCHIEF ‼️ ‼️ CAN WE PLEASE GO BACK TO THE DAYS WHEN WOMEN WERE COURTED THROUGH HILARIOUSLY TINY GESTURES THAT WERE ACTUALLY MONUMENTAL.


Kelsier and Sazed were other character highlights, but what I loved most about them boils down to how they contributed to themes, as discussed in the next portion of this review.


✣ Themes ✣


As I said before, I love a hopeful tale.


Mistborn juggles a lot of questions—those of power, faith, empires, compassion, trust, class... the list goes on. Every character has a slightly different outlook on life and each of these outlooks are carefully considered. It's hard to describe how such a large book layered with so many themes, culminates, but I think 'hopeful' is pretty apt. It's not blindly optimistic, but hinges on a blend of empathy and practicality. It allows lines to be grayed for the greater good. It chooses to see people as individuals rather than homogenous entities.


I really loved it.


✣ Bottom Line ✣


Mistborn succeeds as a fantasy novel on every front. It aligns with my personal taste and has so much to offer to avid readers of the genre. I also especially appreciate that it can be consumed as a standalone if one wants to read it that way. But obviously based on my feelings... I need the second one immediately.



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