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Mistborn: The Final Empire Review

by Zisha
Mistborn Review

If Mistborn is a house, you can say it’s definitely a well-built one but not architecturally beautiful.

I actually liked Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris better than this!

What I liked about Mistborn

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

The Magic System

Of course. The magic system tops the list.

I’ve heard high praises for Mistborn’s magic system and it deserves those praises. In Elantris, I felt the magic system was almost like computer coding. In Mistborn, it’s heavily based on physics. It almost felt like a sci-fi story when Kelsier was explaining things to Vin.

Basically, the mistborns are people with the special abilty to ingest metals to do specific tasks like pushing and pulling on metals, influencing emotions, enhancing senses etc. The magic system reminded me of Newton’s Laws of Motion.

The Plot Twists

Second, I loved the plot and the twists at the ending. This is another thing that Brandon Sanderson seems to be very good at. After I finish a book of his I seem to be ready to forgive all other flaws because the ending makes up for them amazingly.

The Lord Ruler

Then, I thought the logbook of the Lord Ruler was so interesting that I wish Brandon Sanderson would’ve written a book just about his origin.

I think in the next books there are explanations of everything – how Alomancy came to be and the journey of the Hero. I’m looking forward to it. But I wish we could’ve seen it from his own eyes, in a diary form.


Finally, there’s Kelsier. Need I say more? This ambitious, charming, soft-hearted man has won over my heart completely.’

What I didn’t like about Mistborn

Okay, now I’m going to be a bit nitpicky. Or maybe it’s not nitpicking and these are obvious flaws of the book. It does have some problems in the execution of that great plot.

Character Descriptors

Let’s begin with the fact that the character work isn’t good enough for my taste. I don’t like the overuse of Vin ‘glaring’ at people who tell her not to do stupid or reckless things (which also contradicts her ‘do not attract attention to yourself’ persona) or Kelsier ‘chuckling’ everytime that happens as if she’s some amusing pet.

The Banter

Vin goes to her first party and catches the eye of the rich heir Elend Venture himself who is a book lover and brings books to parties and is also “not like other guys”? Yeah right!

And Vin- the girl who can’t trust anyone just starts bantering with him immediately for not giving her proper attention? That’s uncharacteristic of her. It would have been so much better to give them more time to build trust and friendship first.

They see each other literally twice and start to think the other one “is so different” and that “they love each other”. This screams of unrealistic wish-fulfilment that I hate but can’t seem to avoid in most YA. I expected better of Mistborn because of the high praises. But writing characters doesn’t seem like Brandon Sanderson’s strong suit, atleast so far in Mistborn.

The character interactions are so Juvenile, so forced and so unrealistic- it almost feels like a middle-grade.

Writing Style

I won’t comment about overall writing style in details. But it is a bit subpar.

Mistborn was strewn with “Vin paused. Vin frowned. Kelsier nodded. Sazed shrugged.” over and over and over again- atleast 5 times in every page. I’m not even exaggerating. I wouldn’t notice things like these had I read it a couple years ago. But now writing like this greatly hamper my enjoyment.

Also, there were lines like “Spook nodded toward a distant, dark structure in the distance.” Where was the editor?

But this one is a huge flaw in my eyes.

Villain shortcomings

At one scene, there was some sort of commotion, someone got killed (can’t say who it was – because of spoiler) and the protagonist was crying over the dead person in daylight, in full view of the antagonists. But the said antagonists – the inquisitors didn’t even look at her. Didn’t come for her even though they were looking for her for a long time.


I think the Inquisitors would be far more interested in the young mistborn they’ve been looking for to gain leadership of ministry than killing mere skaa people.

This one was especially annoying:

We won’t make that mistake again, child. No—this time, we’re going to try a different tactic. We’re going to let you watch us torture the Terrisman. We’re going to be very careful, making certain his pain is lasting, and quite vibrant.

Why don’t you take some time to think about what we’re going to do to him? The Lord Ruler has commanded my presence—I need to go and receive formal leadership of the Ministry.

Why… Oh WHY? Seriously.

It’d be so so so much more effective if the author had shown this “different tactic” of torturing instead of making the villain blabber. There it is again. The “too talkative villain”. For a creature that is capable of inhuman cruelty, speed and strength – the inquisitor’s mannerisms certainly seem like that of an old movie mustache-twirling villain. Like – “hahaha.. I’m going to do this and that to you. Just wait while I go become the leader of the ministry… Hahaha”.

C’mon! We KNOW these prisoners will escape now while he’s gone. This is a trite technique.

Also, why’d the inquisitor explain these to his prisoner who he considers to be less than human? It would’ve been much more fitting if he just started the torture without saying anything. And readers could’ve felt the fear and hopelessness of the prisoners and it woud have been consistent with the vile, cruel characteristics of the inquisitors.

When the obvious happens after the previous scenario i.e. Vin and Sazed escapes the torture chamber- they fight with the guards, and then Elend also comes to rescue Vin with his soldiers and there is this big fight going on.

We have seen before the inquisitors waiting for Vin and Kelsier because they made noises at the GATE of the palace trying to stealthily get inside. Lord Ruler and the inquisitors having superhuman hearing abilities – they heard that noise from afar and were waiting for them inside.

Now, when Vin and Sazed are trying to escape the cells INSIDE the palace – there are almost three dozens of people fighting – imagine the chaos and racket. But NO. Nobody comes now. Not even the near-omnipotent Lord Ruler notices the sound of a fight going on inside his own house, now when it’s convenient for the characters.

Ugh. I hate plot conveniences like these.

A lot of the times, I felt the crewmembers who were trying to overthrow the Lord Ruler were too careless and kept exposing themselves without caution, but also without getting caught. Which is why the sense of danger was low and I wasn’t scared for the characters. It felt like “Oh of course they’re going to accomplish this. Not a big deal.”

Great houses and the political wars were another joke.

They acted too rashly, too stupidly. Elend was the first one that comes up with the idea “oh maybe we should stick together. Then we’ll be stronger!”. Nobody before him had thought of that!? How did the great houses even become great?

There were so much backstabbing and killing going on without reason -that I feel like the whole system was too unstable to even last a few centuries and it would have collapsed a long time ago even without skaa rebellion.

Final Thoughts

From reading Mistborn: The Final Empire, I can understand that Brandon Sanderson is extremely adept at building the structure – the skeleton – of the story i.e. the plot. But he struggles to put meat on that skeleton.

Looking for more reviews?

Check out my review of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

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