The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson is a fantasy novel that takes magic and corruption to new depths, with a citizen’s uprising threatening the oppressive conditions of the Lord Ruler’s reign over the Final Empire.
The majority of this fantasy novel takes place in the city of Luthadel, the central stronghold of the Lord Ruler and the area in which the noblemen reside and wealth is power. However, there is still a divide between rich and poor, or in this case noblemen and skaa, with the skaa being over-worked by the noblemen and beaten into submission at every opportunity.
There is further inequality between the two classes as some of the noblemen have inherited the powers of Allomancy, whereby they can convert particular types of metal and their alloys into magic. Most Allomancers are only able to burn one metal, with each metal producing a different effect, for example tin can produce enhanced senses whilst pewter can increase strength. However, there are those rare individuals, known as mistborns, who are capable of burning all elements, making them very powerful.
Kelsier is one such individual, a mistborn who has escaped the horrors of the Pits of Hathsin, and the only known survivor. He is a thief and a traveller, and we first see him enter a skaa plantation outside of the city and wreak vengeance upon their harsh nobleman master, freeing them in the process. Kelsier is a very powerful mistborn, having honed his magic skills well enough to combat the corruption of the Lord Ruler’s empire, forming a plan to start the uprising.
Kelsier can’t accomplish this uprising alone, and must call on the help of fellow Allomancers who have been a part of thieving crews with him in the past. The destruction of the Final Empire is a job much different than any of them have ever faced before, but each man implicitly trusts Kelsier and is willing to follow his plans wherever they may lead.
This crew is comprised of very strong characters, each holding a strong role in the plan to destroy the empire, but there is one in particular whom the reader is introduced to and follows throughout the book. This character is Vin, a street urchin who is discovered by Kelsier to be a fellow mistborn, and is trained by Kelsier to learn the secrets of Allomancy. She is then given the important role of impersonating a noblewoman and infiltrating the nobles’ inner circles to find out the latest gossip around court. But when her path crosses with Elend, a nobleman who seems more appreciative of skaa than the others, will her faith in their plan waver?
Sanderson’s fantasy world was so intricately carved throughout this book that I immediately became immersed in its pages, craving more and more of the story. The world is slowly built up so you aren’t immersed straight away, and the magic of Allomancy has such depth that the effects of the different elements are explored throughout the book as Vin’s powers grow. Particularly as part of Kelsier’s plan to overthrow the Lord Ruler involves a mysterious eleventh element that has yet to be experimented with.
Kelsier is a fantastic character to lead this rebellion, as he is highly intelligent and has thought out every eventuality of his actions. Despite this, he still has his flaws, such as his blind hatred for the nobility without considering that some of them might be good people. There is also the issue of his ego, as when rallying up the skaa to rebel he easily accepts the God-like worship he receives and does little to change their opinion of him. He is trusting of his men, and becomes a father figure to Vin, not being afraid of caring despite his past adversities.
As for Vin, she begins the book as part of another thief’s crew, where she is beaten into obedience, living with her brother’s logic that sooner or later everyone will betray you. This is no way for her to live, as she is afraid of trusting anyone and can’t believe that Kelsier can be so trusting with his forces. She is especially worried about taking on the role of a noblewoman, as she has to be careful to hide her true nature as a mistborn and can’t truly get close to anyone she meets, particularly the mysterious Elend who spends his time at balls reading instead of dancing.
This fantasy novel was so clever that it’s difficult to fully describe the details of the rebellion without giving anything away, but I will say that there were several shocking moments throughout the book. I loved that these shocking events weren’t just saved for the ending, but were spread out from the very beginning. It was so well written that the long page count didn’t seem to matter, as I became more and more absorbed with every chapter. This is one rebellion that you don’t want to miss, as the ending may surprise you!
I absolutely adored The Final Empire, and was completely pulled in to Sanderson’s fantasy world. The characters were inspired and I loved that each character had their strengths and weaknesses, and loved how the book revealed its secrets and surprises gradually, still saving some shocking moments for the ending. Despite the length of the book it was easy to become absorbed in its pages.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- The Final Empire
- The Well of Ascension
- The Hero of Ages
- The Alloy of Law
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