Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book Review: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

stained glass photographed by davidhinchendesign on etsy
The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson took my library by storm last year. One of my colleagues read it and told another person about it, who told another person, who told a library patron, and soon everyone was rolling their eyes to the sky and gushing, "It's so amazing!"

It's not that I didn't believe them--really, my colleagues have excellent taste--but since everyone wanted it, the hold list was too darn long! So I waited until the fuss died down and began reading the series in August. I finished it last month while we were on our honeymoon, and agree: It's so amazing.

Aside: Yes, I'm a crazy woman who cannot stop reading. Reading must happen, even while honeymooning! I was all, "Honey, let's go to the beach. Pleeeeeeease?" (So I can lay in the sunshine sipping fancy cocktails and reading books for hours.) But if that's crazy, I don't want to be sane!

Mistborn is wonderful because it's completely unlike any other fantasy novel I've read: It's a fantasy novel for people who would rather be reading about a jewel heist. No, really! As much as I love fantasy, I've grown used to the convention that the hero must (imagine a majestic trumpet flourish) go on a quest and (imagine an ominously booming timpani) face his fears to rid the world of evil. But in Mistborn, the hero went on a quest a thousand years ago--and failed. Evil won, and this is the story of what happened later.

The world has been divided into nobles and peasants who live like slaves. Among those peasants, a band of thieves is brought together by the charismatic Kelsier. Their goal? To pull off the longest con of all: Rallying the peasants, creating a distraction, eliminating the despotic and immortal Lord Ruler, and stealing his wealth. 

Kelsier drafts Vin, a paranoid orphan who has spent her life on the fringes of organized crime, because he can see that she has powers she doesn't understand. Vin is Mistborn, and she can use metal to break the laws of physics, push on people's thoughts, and see a few moments into the future--among other things. If she can learn to trust the rest of the group, of course.

I don't want to say too much, but this series has it all: Believable, funny, vulnerable characters, an alchemy-based magic system unlike any other I've seen, and a complex world with fully-developed cultures, politics, slang, and a peculiar fixation on stained glass (Hence the image I chose for today's post). Just when you think you know what's happening, it will surprise you--I promise. And then you'll want to read it all over again. 

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