Book review of Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson
This review does not contain any spoilers.
One of the podcasts I listen to is called "Writing Excuses." It's a weekly podcast hosted by Brandon Sanderson and a rotating group of other authors who give writing advice on a variety of different topics. The podcasts are only 15-20 minutes long, and they are excellent: short, entertaining, and packed full of super-useful information about writing fiction.
Sanderson writes epic fantasy, which isn't a genre I'm normally that interested in, but over this past Christmas, I saw he had written a book called Oathbringer, which Amazon dubbed the most "unputdownable" book of 2017. Well, this piqued my interest, because what author doesn't want readers to be unable to put their book down, right?
So I went to Amazon and discovered Oathbringer is priced at $16.99. For the e-book. Riiiiight.
So, rather than fork over $17 to Macmillan (sorry, Brandon), I went to my local library and was pleased to find they still have books you can borrow and read for free! Not surprisingly, Oathbringer was not available, nor were either of the previous two books in the series. However, I did find one book, called Mistborn, which he wrote in 2010. So I checked it out and read it while I was on vacation.
Damn, it was good.
If Oathbringer is more unputdownable than this book, I may avoid it, because I don't think I can handle another string of sleepless nights like I went through with Mistborn. This book kept me reading until the wee hours of the morning for about five straight nights. I don't know yet what it was that turned me into the literary equivalent of a heroin addict, but I'm going to spend some time analyzing this book to figure it out. I'm going to re-read the first fifty or so pages, break down the plot and character development in each chapter, and study the transitions between chapters because I have got to put some of what made this book so good into my next book!
I will say I was a little bit disappointed in the ending. I won't give any spoilers, but when I finished it at 12:30 a.m. last night, my initial reaction was "Yeeessss!!!!!" But after I woke the next morning and reflected on the ending, I realized there were a few elements added at the end that didn't really stand up to close scrutiny. Partly this is because Sanderson did such a good job establishing the rules for how allomancy and feruchemy work (these are superpowers granted through ingestion or possession of metals) as well as the physical characteristics of two types of people (terrismen and steel inquisitors). Because of this, it was pretty clear those rules got violated in a couple of big ways at the end.
Nonetheless, the ending was still very satisfying, and the ride up to that point was fantastic. What I found notable about this book for me was that Sanderson's writing to me has no weaknesses. He does an outstanding job at world-building, character development, action, dialog, and setting. There were no dead spots where I got bored even though it was 650 pages long. It was all combined in a way that the book stood by itself even though it's the first book in a trilogy. In addition to rarely reading epic fantasy anymore, I also very rarely read books over 500 pages. Mistborn blew past both of these hangups like they didn't exist. It will almost certainly do the same with another hangup of mine, namely, reading beyond the first book in a series.
Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson
Science fiction writer