This is a story about how my life was ruined forever by a fantasy book that was not Harry Potter. I knew The Final Empire was going to be good, but I didn’t know just how brilliant it was going to be until I finally started reading it. Prior to buying it, I hadn’t heard too much about it. I know, I don’t know where I’ve been. And once I had bought it, it sat on my shelf for about a year before I finally decided to pick it up. And picking it up was one of the best decisions I made in 2014.
Brandon Sanderson is a fantastic writer. Since discovering his work, I have read a good few books by him, and all of them have been great, but The Final Empire is the one that truly stands out due to the setting and the characters, plus the heist storyline that so many people adore.
The story mostly focusses on two main characters, Kelsier (<3) and Vin, although there are a bunch of other characters who also get page time and who are incredibly important. Kelsier is the leader of a crew of people who want to take down the Lord Ruler, aka the guy who is in charge of the Final Empire and keeping rich people in business with slavery, fear, and a metal called Atium. And then Vin is the young woman who stumbles into Kelsier and joins his crew, and later helps them on their mission to end the bad guy and free the Empire. And I totally shipped these two together even with the age difference and if you find that creepy then you would definitely hate most of my other ships. They have chemistry! I regret nothing.
Metals are very important in this book because they’re what give people their powers. Some people, that is, because not everyone has the ability to weild metals, and fewer people still can actually use all the metals like Vin and Kelsier can. This power is called Allomancy, and the people who have it are called either Mistlings or Mistborns, depending on how powerful they are. This is the foundation of the magic system in this book, but it’s so much more complex than that. Sanderson has done a phenomenal job of creating a system here that works; one that has power and also limitations. It’s probably one of the best magic systems that I have ever read about, and I love that there is so much more to explore after this first book.
Kelsier and Vin are both amazing characters. Kelsier is the bestest person, even though he is morally grey at times because some of the things he does are like, woah. But he has an amazing backstory that I like to compare to Spartacus, and he wants to take out the Lord Ruler who has been oppressing and killing innocent people for years. Kelsier is a force to be reckoned with, and he’s my favourite character out of all of the ones I’ve met through Sanderson’s books so far.
Vin is also a very complex character, although she doesn’t really come into her own until towards the end. She has spent her whole life being controlled, oppressed, and abused by either her family or her elders. She’s had a shit life, but she’s still come out of it strong and determined. I love her, and I love the way her character is heading by the end of this book. All the Vin, guys, all the Vin.
While this is an epic fantasy with entirely new world-building, it wasn’t a slow read at all. It took me no time to get into it and to get used to the characters and their personalities, and the world was explained patiently and clearly, while also leaving you wanting to know more. Unlike a lot of epic or high fantasy (looking at you, ASOIAF) there was no slow moment or any moment that I felt could have been explained a lot better. I was hooked from the start and, while The Final Empire is over 600 pages long, I didn’t want it to end once I’d started. I could read about this world and these characters forever, and I’m incredibly sad that it’s only a trilogy because I want ALLLLL the books. All of them.
CAN I JUST TAKE A MOMENT TO SHOUT AT YOU ALL ABOUT THE ENDING BECAUSE IT IS THE MOST SOUL DESTROYING THING I HAVE EVER READ AND I WASN’T EXPECTING IT SO FUCK ALL THE PEOPLE WHO LET ME GO THROUGH IT WITHOUT WARNING ME (I’m joking, I don’t actually want to know what’s going to happen or have any warnings at all) I WAS A SOBBING MESS AND I WILL NEVER EVER RECOVER I HAVE BEEN SCARRED FOR LIFE MY HEART HAS BEEN RIPPED OUT OF MY CHEST AND I WILL NEVER FORGIVE ANYBODY FOR DOING THIS TO ME
My one complaint would be the lack of female characters. Vin is the only one. Although one (or two?) more get introduced in the sequel, I’ve noticed that Sanderson’s books in general lack female main characters and it’s hard to ignore. That said, I haven’t read Warbreaker yet, which sounds promising, and also The Alloy of Law. Fingers crossed for more diversity and improvement!
I could ramble on about The Final Empire to you all day, or you could just take my (flawless) advice and go and buy a copy right now. I would recommend it to fans of Sarah J. Maas, because the level of feels felt for Heir of Fire and this are just about equal. Also consider reading this if you love Fire and Thorns, because the world building is everything you could have ever wanted. Just… just read this book, guys. It’s one of the best things I’ve read in the past year, and I don’t think you will regret it.