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The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. How magic should be done.

The Final Empire

The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. 

With the news that Brandon Sanderson has released a new Mistborn novel (sorry, if I’m a bit late on this) I thought I better waste no time in giving my thoughts on the earlier trilogy of books in the Mistborn saga.  These start with the novel, ‘The Final Empire’.  For those that don’t know, Brandon Sanderson is a very talented fantasy author who is renowned for creating vivid characters, and for developing and describing mystical and highly developed forms of magic.  The Mistborn series is set in a gloomy world ruled by an absolute immortal ruler, who has ruled for a thousand years after allegedly saving the world from destruction.  Class conflicts divide the land and Kelsier leads a band of rogues, thieves, and confidence tricksters who end up rebelling against the burdensome yoke of an aristocracy who rule with a typical sense of arrogance and disdain for the peasantry known as the Skaa.  The nobility are suitably dastardly, enough to get our blood boiling, whilst at the same time living a lifestyle of carriages and balls, long ball gowns and pearl necklaces, that appeals to our more decadent side.

The aristocracy unsurprisingly hold all the cards, including the magic of Allomancy that runs in the nobility’s blood.  However, due to illegal crossbreeding, our rebel band leader Kelsier has become a master Allomacer himself, and he teaches another apprentice, the street urchin Vin who also has the talent running through her veins.

Allomancy is derived from a simple concept – the Allomancer consumes and digests certain metals which then can be used for magical purposes.  Each metal has a different property, for example consuming a small amount of Iron will allow the wielder to pull on other metal objects, whilst steel will allow him or her to push off metal objects.  Doesn’t sound so special? Well, you’ll be wrong, as demonstrated by Kelsier as he teaches young Vin the basics.  The magic works in a similar way to a magnetic force, either pulling together or repelling the two wielders as they use the magic to leap off buildings, fly along walls, circle steeples and rooftops, or bound over the countryside using the magic to push or pull them from the metal found in gateposts or railings or any other source of metal.  These are my favourite passages of the books, as the author goes into such detail in describing the workings of the magic, and how it can be used.

The Well of Ascension

Other metals have other properties, some help you mask pain, others make your senses more acute for example.  The whole concept is very simple and works on a principle of opposing forces, either attracting or repelling.  It’s a good lesson to any would be fantasy writer, that a new form of magic needn’t be overly complicated to have dramatic effect, and that sometimes simplicity is golden.

These  books are a great tale of adventure and magic, and anyone who loves getting into the depths of magic, how it works and functions, will love them.

You can buy the first in the series here.

The Hero of Ages

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2 Comments

  1. I’ve read his fantasy debut, Elantris and although I enjoyed it and loved the concept of the novel, I found something lacking in his characterisation. I look forward to reading these books and seeing how his writing style has developed.

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  2. I enjoyed Mistborn and am a fan of Sanderson without question. I completely agree that the magic system in Mistborn is one of the best I’ve read. Its complex and yet easily understandable, and it’s integral to the plot. I wish I’d thought of it! The only other series I’ve read that matches its beauty is the Dhanen’Mar series by Peyton Reynolds (I don’t know her, so this is an honest plug from a reader). Another magic system that I wish I’d come up with! 🙂

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