Ash falls like rain from the darkened skies above the Final Empire. Lowborn skaa toil in the fields and in the cities while the nobility enact petty schemes against each other to curry the favor of the god-like Lord Ruler. And in the night, the mists hide powerful Mistborn warriors that vie for the supremacy of their noble houses.
For a thousand years the Lord Ruler has reigned over the Final Empire, crushing the spirits of skaa and noble-born alike from his fortress in the city of Luthadel. But now Kelsier, a half-skaa Mistborn with a vendetta against the Lord Ruler, is assembling a team of Misting thieves to pull off the ultimate crime against the tyrant and his empire–and possibly topple their overlord in the process. And with the help of Vin, an orphaned Mistborn with great potential, on their side, their half-mad scheme may actually work–but only if she can learn to trust her new gang and her newly awakened Allomantic powers.
Sanderson has created a truly original world in Mistborn, complete with a unique history that turns fantasy tropes on their head. Indeed, without this rich historical underpinning, the book would be a simple quest story without real meat. But the jewel of his world creation here is his magic system. Allomancy is a well-balanced, almost scientific, system of magic that not only gives his fantasy a good creative spark but also fuels some great action sequences throughout the novel. Imagine a medieval fantasy, but with “wire-fu”, and you get the idea.
Further, Sanderson just writes a good novel. The prose is descriptive but not overly so and the dialog is sharp and snappy. The plot moves along at a good pace with enough surprises along the way to keep you reading. The scenes with the crew planning their various parts of the scheme are the best–Sanderson invokes a real spirit of camaraderie between all of the characters and sets this against Vin’s hard-won lessons against such trust and compassion for some effective drama. The antagonists, especially the Steel Inquisitors, are truly menacing but the depiction of the Lord Ruler–only seen a few scenes in the novel but whose menace is felt throughout–is quite compelling. We get to gaze inside the heart of a tyrant and see what drives him to rule in such a despicable manner.
Mistborn is a great, original fantasy that introduces us to compelling characters and a unique world. Highly recommended.