Published July 2006
*Disclaimer! I read The Final Empire back in January of 2016, before I had created this blog. Since I have recently finished the second book in the series, The Well of Ascension, and I NEED to talk about it formally, I thought I would put my review for The Final Empire up first. This is just a quick review that I wrote for my Goodreads, so please forgive my unrefined reviewing skills.*
It took me way too long to finally pick up this book. I think that even with the raving reviews, and the beautiful pictures on bookstagram of The Final Empire, I was still a little hesitant to read it because of a nerdy fantasy factor. (I have not yet publically embraced my love for fantasy I suppose.) Anyways, I finished this book and I really, really liked it. I feel like it reads in between a YA novel and lets say, Game of Thrones (on the fantasy/magic system).
For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.
Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.
But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.
Allomancy, the magic system featured throughout The Final Empire, was unique. Although a little lecture-y at times when it is being explained, I was super intrigued by how each power differed, and how they were utilized by different people. The setting fit into the fantasy/dystopian/poor peasants vs. wealthy aristocracy category that there’s seems to be no shortage of, but there was no subtlety in the horrors the Empire inflicted on their people. The lack of hope that smothered the land was utterly depressing, and the falling of constant ash just added to the overall despair.
I was really impressed by Sanderson’s characters as well. It was refreshing to have a lead female character that wasn’t motivated by a romance. Vin was young and naive, but she also really grew into herself and used her new found powers to strengthen herself as a person which was awesome. I also loved the relationship that Vin had with Kelsier, the mentor/father/friend hybrid was very sweet.
I read a lot of reviews where people finish this book in tears, but I have to say – while I didn’t predict the exact way things were going to end, I had a good feeling how it was going to play out.
“But you can’t kill me, Lord Tyrant. I represent that one thing you’ve never been able to kill, no matter how hard you try. I am hope.”
Lastly, Sanderson FTW! The Final Empire ends with no cliffhanger! But, there was still an open enough ending that you know there is going to be more to the story, and an ultimately bigger plot revealed. I can’t wait to continue this series. In the mean time, let us take a peek at the American cover designs: who did this?!