Because all of life is stories.
The best way I have ever heard this book summed up is thusly: Imagine if you took the crew of Ocean’s Eleven, threw them into Middle Earth, gave them superpowers, and replaced robbing Andy Garcia with robbing and murdering God.
Do I have your attention yet?
Mistborn (Alternatively called The Final Empire) is the first book in a trilogy from fantasy author Brandon Sanderson. The man chosen to finish The Wheel of Time. The man who took over nearly a dozen books in and managed to make it better.
Again, do I have your attention?
Mistborn opens up on a plantation that we quickly figure out is being maintained and kept alive by slaves called Skaa. We quickly see how dramatically terrible their lives are, simply because they are not born of the right blood. Clearly this makes them inferior. Once the horror of Skaa life is introduced to us time moves forward to the next night, in a small shack where a Skaa family is waiting out the night. Waiting out the Mist.
We learn that the Skaa, and all people nearly, fear the Mist. They say that within it waits monsters. Mistwraiths that will steal your soul, take your form, and many worse tortures conjured up by the imagination. So imagine their fear when in the middle of the night a man comes knocking. A man who has walked the Mists and lived. A man who fears not, and has grand plans for himself. For the entire world in fact.
Seriously though if I don’t have your attention by now how have you made it this far?
Anyways, into their small home comes a man named Kelsier. The world knows him as The Survivor of Hathsin; the mines where the God King keeps the most treacherous of criminals. It is a death sentence. Kelsier is the only man who has ever walked away. He tells the family not to be afraid, and that a day is coming when they will be free, and vanishes into the night.
Many chapters later Kelsier has assembled a team of thieves and bandits, each one representing one of the many powers that Sanderson has dreamed up for his world. You see Kelsier works with men and women who are Allomancers. An Allomancer is a person born with ability to make use of one or more of the allomantic metals. The consume them and process them as fuel for thie power. Most of these people are Mistings, they are born with one talent. Marsh, Kelsier’s brother, is a Seeker. Seeker’s consume and burn bronze in order to detect anyone in the immediate area who is using Allomancy. Hammond (Or Ham for short) is a Pewterarm. He gains enormous strength and endurance by consuming, you guessed it, pewter. Breeze, the egotist and frequent philosophical debate partner of Ham is both a Rioter and a Soother. Consuming Zinc and Brass, Breeze has the innate ability to fiddle with the emotions of other people. He can create mobs and quell them on a whim. Clubs is a Coppercloud, also called a Smoker. Burning copper (Big shock I know) Clubs hides the rest of the gang from detection of a Seeker. He is also a carpenter and his home sometimes acts as Kelsier’s base of operations. Clubs’ nephew Spook is a tineye, who upon burning tin sees and feels and hears with extreme sensitivity. It is extremely useful as a spy but can also be the cause of problems such as hypersensitivity to light and pain.
Finally, we have Kelsier himself and Vin. Vin is poor orphaned girl down on her luck. She has not known home or love for years since the death of her brother, and has lived her life moving from gang to gang as a good luck charm. She is treated poorly, beaten, and regularly left homeless. That is, until the day Kelsier happens upon her. Kelsier discovers that much like himself Vin is one of a rare breed. A Mistborn. She is one of the rare few who has the power to use all of the allomantic metals, and proves to be an invaluable addition to Kelsier’s gang.
Kelsier’s crew spends weeks plotting revolutions, spying on the ‘well-blooded’, and generally being a thorn in the foot of The Lord Ruler and his Steel Inquisitors. It’s all very interesting and written better in the book than I could possibly describe it here. Suffice it to say that not all is as black and white in the world as Kelsier and his crew would have it be. You’re just going to have to read to find out the rest.
Mistborn is the story that isn’t often told. Not the thief makes good story. That one has been done before. Done very well, but that doesn’t mean Mistborn is a rehash. It really isn’t. This is the story of the great hero, and what happens to his world after he fails.
Every author has their strength. With some of them it’s great and complex characters. With others it is setting or pacing or plot. Many authors may be good at many of these things, as is the case with Brandon Sanderson. But where he truly and absolutely shines is world building. Sanderson has a propensity for creating new and fantastical worlds that breathe life into a genre that can sometimes be stale and formulaic. Mistborn is just one of many of his series that is built on an incredible world crafted by a giant of fantasy. By my count half a dozen beautifully crafted worlds sit on my shelf, all lovingly brought to me by a man who I believe is destined to be mentioned along Jordan, Tolkien, Martin and Pratchett as one of the greatest fantasy authors of all time.
Mistborn may be his finest novel to date. And I hope and pray that it doesn’t finish anywhere near the top of the list when Sanderson is done. Because I know he has a lot more writing left in him. And I know it will be astounding.