You know, I’m really quite late for this. A group read of ‘Mistborn: The Final Empire‘ by Brandon Sanderson, first of the Mistborn trilogy, has been under way for a few weeks now. Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings started this a little while ago, and other participants have already posted parts one and two, meaning I’m going to really have to skedaddle ((Wow, I completely expected spell-check to throw a fit at that word)) to get back on track for part three which is due this coming Wednesday. A comment from Grace of Books Without Pictures gave me the necessary arm twisting to go ahead and get involved despite the late start. ((I took a lot of convincing. True story.))
This is a re-read for me, and already it has been quite interesting revisiting this earlier work of Sanderson’s. Please note that spoilers will be in these posts for the sections under discussion that week, and perhaps earlier sections, but nothing beyond.
After the group read has concluded, I’ll do a spoiler-free review for anyone not participating and who has not yet read the book. 🙂
Part One of the group read discusses the Prologue and Chapters One through Six. Spoilers ahoy.
The questions themselves for this part were provided by our host, Carl.
Without further delay then, let the catch up begin!
1. This first hundred or so pages was packed! What things are standing out for you in the story thus far?
After coming from a more character-driven read as my last book before this one, I think I can agree that a lot has happened already! Murder of an entire noble household, an assault on another, conning — or attempting to, at least — a dangerous semi-religious bureaucratic organisation ((Who would have ever seen those words coming together?)) and more.
The stand out part for me is just how well Sanderson is able to convey such a crystal clear image in your mind of how the magical battles are unfolding. I remember noting this the first time I read through Mistborn as well. The clarity in which every spectacular action is fed straight into your minds eye seems like a magic unto itself!
The same ability of Sanderson’s writing is also on display in The Way of Kings.
2. What are your thoughts on the magic system that Sanderson is unveiling in this novel?
I’m not sure that I can think of any other magic system which I like more. It’s very, very good. The fact it is given some grounding in… well, I guess it’s hard to say ‘reality’, but it does have a sort of ‘Oh, that makes sense’ feel to it.
More than that though, I love the range of motion it allows and how it comes together to form a really quite amazing fighting style.
This, combined with Sanderson’s ability to really let you ‘see’ this blow me away.
3. Kelsier and Vin have held most of the spotlight in these first 6 chapters. As you compare/contrast the two characters, how do you feel about them? Likes? Dislikes?
I enjoy reading about both characters, particularly because you can already begin to see that neither of them are flawless despite being the clear ‘heroes’ of the piece.
Kelsier has a hatred of the nobility that, while I wouldn’t call it irrational as such, does tap dance across the borders of good sense. It seems to me that even by this stage of the book, clear effort has been put into expressing that Kelsier has convinced himself that all nobility are inhuman objects and thus it is no problem to kill them by the dozen.
He has robbed them of any sense of family or goodness, there is simply no room in his world view for those things.
In essence, he views them the same way the nobility view the Skaa. Very black and white.
Vin doesn’t appear to think this way, but her life to date has lead her to be exceptionally paranoid. She isn’t precisely timid though, I think that if she were she would not have been able to survive the world she resided in without completely cracking.
There is some definite room for growth there, and given the task assigned to her at the end of Chapter 6, it is going to be forced upon her soon ready or not, it would seem!
4. Finally, how would you assess Sanderson’s storytelling abilities to this point?
I have to admit, that even upon rereading, the chalk-board scene stuck out as a sore thumb just due to how incongruous it seemed with the setting.
Perhaps it’s just me, but it reminded me far too much of either an office meeting setting, or even perhaps of Sanderson reflecting his story-boarding process and outlining for himself just how this crew was going to pull off this task he’d set them!
I don’t know if anyone else has had the same reaction as me to that scene or not, but for me at least, it sticks out horribly and mars this first section something fierce.
However, putting that irksome moment aside? Very impressed. I loved how Vin referred to her Allomantic power before knowing what it was she was doing. The scenes working for Camon to dupe the Obligators were legitimately tense, even a second time around.
The quotations that mark most chapter starts also are very well written and interesting. Unfortunately I can’t say too much on them because I know who and when they’re from, so the mystery element is missing for me. However there is another satisfaction again reading through them with the knowledge of what they amount to.
So yes, one irksome scene can’t ruin an otherwise great opening to the book and series. 🙂