So, I am a bit late to the game with Brandon Sanderson. I admit that much. I’ve known of him for years, largely because of the Writing Excuses podcast (which is supremely awesome – you should check it out). But when it came to reading his books, I’d never picked one up, despite my sister’s constant proddings to do so.
Confession time: I’ve always loved the concept of epic fantasy, but The Lord Of The Rings put me off. Not The Hobbit – I read and loved that as a kid. But I’ve lost count of the times I’ve started and failed to finish LoTR. As far as I was concerned, the best thing about it was that my Dad had bought an amazingly bound set that looked perfect on the bookcase. Don’t judge me.
It is therefore a pleasure to be able to say I enjoyed being eased back into the genre by Sanderson. I mean, who wouldn’t be tempted by this cover?
The one thing I knew about Sanderson was his strength when it came to creating magic systems (use that google thing to find all of Sanderson’s Laws – much of it can also be applied to other areas). In this book it is Allomancy, which is one of the most engaging magic systems I have ever come across. It is handled with elegance and balance, not once causing the reader’s suspension of disbelief to waver. Even the action scenes are handled with a deft touch, rather than I have magic, I can beat you, BAM! VICTORY!!!!! which means the main characters never become so competent that they also become boring in the process.
For me, having a female main character rather than just dudes in cloaks walking with elves made it more relatable too. Not that I can’t enjoy books with elves in, in fact I read one very recently (When Elves Attack), but I think there is still an element of masculinity to the genre that is only just beginning to loosen its hold. Which is a good thing, I think.
I’m not going to spoiler it, but the storytelling and pace, along with the characterisation, makes it worth the time investment to get through the hundreds of pages. Sanderson is not exactly known for his brevity, but I was happy to see that it wasn’t just words for the sake of it. To complete something as grand in scope as the vision he has for his worlds, well, it’s going to take a bit longer than your average novel.
If you haven’t already read it, you can buy Mistborn: The Final Empire here.