I'm pretty sure you all know I'm a big ol' geek, so it should come as no surprise to any of you that I occasionally dabble in fantasy and science fiction books. If those don't appeal to you, well, come back next week, after I've read the latest Donna Leon but if you like an occasional book in this genre read on (or don't because I'm not sure how favorable I can make this review).
Mistborn is the first of three novels in the Final Empire series, penned by Brandon Sanderson, the author chosen to finish Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time after he died before completing it (which by the way, is one of the reasons I have the rule not to read any series of books until they are all done; I need closure). Anyway, Chris read the Sanderson contributions to Wheel of Time and liked them enough to purchase this trilogy for our Kindle. He also liked them enough to strongly recommend them to me. Hmmm....
The premise is interesting, a world that has been ruled for 1000 years by a "god" an immortal being who has divided the people of this planet into basically two castes, noble and skaa, or slaves. Magic exists in the form of "allomancy" a way for certain, gifted, people (by law nobles only) to swallow metals and "burn" their properties to enhance their physical and mental attributes.It's a depressing world, filled with volcanoes (aka ashmounts) that constantly fill the air with ash that dirties everything, makes all plants grow in shades of browns, without flowers, and darkens the sky lit by a red sun, not to mention terrifying mists that emerge at night. And unto this blighted world is born a savior...
Well not exactly but sort of. You know the drill.
It's a struggle of good versus evil, where all that is evil, may not be that evil, and all that is good, well, it may not be that good too. You can read the first book solo (there's enough of an ending for you to move on without worry) but I think if you want to understand the entire mythology, you need to read all three. Unfortunately, I have yet to decide if understanding the entire mythology is worth the additional time it will take to read these last two books.
Why? Because I think Sanderson lacks some skills in character development - at least here. He's got no business writing his protagonist as a woman because ... well ... he just doesn't get it. Her transformation from street urchin to something more feels canned and unbelievable (he should take a clue from Steigg Larson or even Suzanne Collins who's Katniss in The Hunger Games was more believable) and his supporting cast also feels formulaic at best.
Plus the first half of the book plodded on and on, with all the planning and very little action. When it finally did pick up and the story moved forward, I found the action bogged down because of the "magic" used. Sanderson described every maneuver in pain-staking detail, as to not just the action but the magic behind the action - trust me - it got tiresome and I was skimming huge paragraphs of useless information to get to the end result.
So while I liked the developed world, it's mythology and am curious to see how it's all resolved, at this point, I don't think there's enough here to compel me to read more. If, on a five-star system, two stars was didn't like it and three stars was liked it, I'm an ambivalent, 2.5 stars.