A little under a year ago, I found some friends through #bookstagram who all had a desire to read some Brandon Sanderson books. I and one other had read quite a few of his books already and the other two were Sanderson newbies. I dubbed us the Sanderson Sisters and thus my Sanderson reading group was created. Our first books were the Mistborn Trilogy, which we read over the course of six months. This was a reread for me, but since it had been so long since I originally read the books it felt almost like the first time.
Normally when I do these Backlist reviews I do mini reviews of each book, but that doesn’t feel right for the Mistborn books. They are too complex for me to write without any spoilers. So, this is a SPOILER FREE, general summary of my feelings and thoughts of the original trilogy: The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages.
Rating: Sanderson never ceases to amaze, but the Mistborn trilogy will easily find itself becoming a favorite series of fantasy readers for years to come.
Mistborn is a series that shifts and grows from heist tale into a richly intricate story of hope, love, failure, and endurance. We start with a small, seemingly straightforward story of a con man and his crew, who are scheming to exact some revenge and get a big score. But this story was never about a heist, not really, and the groundwork that Sanderson lays for the larger story is nothing short of brilliant. The Mistborn books are even better upon a second read because you catch little foreshadows and you know to pay attention to the little asides at the beginning of each chapter.
“Plots behind plots, plans behind plans. There was always another secret.”
I don’t think there is a book or series out there that has a better balance of action and world building. Sanderson’s explanations of the magic system, Allomancy, often feel like a physics lesson in the middle of a knife fight. Heavy handed world building kills my enjoyment of a book, but Sanderson somehow manages to get the most intricate and interesting worlds built all without ever making me feel bogged down.
The characters in Mistborn are layered and well thought out. Even the smaller characters have solid foundations and it is not hard to get to know them. The story is told through numerous POVs, but it is always easy to know who you are with. Getting to see the story from different sides helps build up a lot of the philosophical quandaries and draws you deeper into the world. These characters go through a lot (to say the very least) and seeing their internal battles helps shape them from mere characters on a page into the epic figures they are.
Looking back on the Mistborn trilogy really makes me believe that Sanderson must be a wizard. There is no other way that someone could balance all the tragedy, humor (there is plenty of trademark Sanderson snark in this one), religion, world building, and neck snapping plot twists. When people ask for a fantasy book recommendation the Mistborn trilogy is my recommendation 99% of the time. Reading people’s reactions to their first read through of this trilogy is one of my favorite things in my bookish life.
And as is tradition for me when I speak about Mistborn, I will take this moment to state that once you finish the Mistborn trilogy, you MUST start reading the Mistborn Era 2 books. So many people ignore those, and it is a damn shame. But don’t look them up until you finish Mistborn because spoilers…