The ebook cover for the Mistborn Trilogy

(Credit: Brandon Sanderson, Tor and Sam Weber)

On recommendation, I decided to read Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy. Originally, I’d thought it was a four part series, because there were four of the books available for Kindle. This caught me out, because as I was nearing the end of the third book, I was reading it like I would the middle of the book, not like I would the end.

That might sound odd, but if I know that I’m at the end of a series I’ve enjoyed, then I’ll slow down to savour the last vestiges of it, just like you might want to take a few more sips at the bottom of a good glass of wine instead of taking it all down in one gulp.

And I did enjoy these books. Sanderson says that his inspiration was taking an Ocean Eleven type crew and giving them magical abilities. He also said that he wanted to create a world where the hero doesn’t win — in his case, the world is formed by the fact that someone who wasn’t the hero gained control of a power and used it to create a land were hope is crushed. In essence,  The book revolves around the thieving crew with magic abilities deciding to overthrow this anti-hero who has held the land under domination for hundreds of years and is seemingly immortal. Of course, he turns out not to be so immortal or so evil as events unfold.

I’m not a big fan of Ocean’s Eleven and, although I like taking tired stories and turning them on their heads, I don’t think this was what made the Mistborn trilogy so spectacular. What I really enjoyed was how neatly everything fit into his story. There wasn’t a character who didn’t have a reason for being. And the plot was woven so tightly it was hard to find a hole. Later in the trilogy you’d find out something and think, “Oh. So that’s why so-and-so did that.”

My favourite part of the trilogy was the powers that Sanderson gave to his heroes. It wasn’t simple magic, but a complex system which must have taken time to think up. There were three types of magic, all involving metals. One where the user burned a metal to gain power from that metal, one where a user stored their own power for later use in a metal, and one where a person could take someone else’s innate power to use metals by killing them with a metal. We weren’t introduced to all of these at once, so it wasn’t overwhelming. Instead, the concept started as a bud, with my favourite character — Vin the street urchin — using her “Luck”, not realising that she was in fact burning metals.From there we are gradually introduced to the magic of ingesting and burning metals, called Allomancy. Later, we find out about the two other strains.  The types of magic then fitted in perfectly with the concepts of warring gods which is introduced later in the series. Sanderson’s forethought in this area made the magic seem realistic, and the idea of the books also feel pure in its symmetry.

The other thing that I really enjoyed about these novels was that Sanderson wasn’t afraid to let key men in his crew die. In revolution, people will be killed, so it would have felt unnatural if this “Ocean Eleven” type crew would have all lived to see the end of the trilogy. But I hate parting with a character I’ve grown to love, so was glad that he didn’t make the book a killing field. He was also ready to throw all of our beliefs on their head and have everything the characters had been working towards become no longer at all desirable. This kept the reader on their toes and wanting to plow through more pages, even if they should be doing something else. Indeed, I read the second book in two days.

Overall, I loved the series. and have to give it 4.5/5.  The missing 0.5 is because I felt a little let down by the very end of the series, but I don’t want  to put a horrid spoiler in this review, so I won’t go into it.

Have you read the series? Did you enjoy it too?