This is officially my first experience in the cosmere, and I was of two minds!
So this is not my first Brandon Sanderson book, and I have watched all the fantasy writing classes that he ran and were posted to Youtube. So I know a bit about his writing, and what he brings to the party. So I was excited to read The Final Empire.
The first book/series of Brandon’s that I read was Steelheart from The Reckoners series. I read all three books, and LOVED them. It goes down as one of my favourite fantasy series – who wouldn’t want to see how people with no superpowers attempt to defeat the only people with powers.. essentially the bad guys. I will admit though, it was a pretty different “vibe”.
If you don’t know what the Mistborn series, or The Final Empire is about let me share. It essentially has two main plot lines. First is a thieving/heist story, and secondly an overthrowing the government story. Yeah, it kind of flipped halfway through the middle of the very long book. I will admit that this is a trend I’ve noticed recently in fantasy (particularly longer fantasy) books. We sign up for one story, and end up changing half way to another one with the same characters. The way this dystopian style world works is that the “Skaa” are the lowly section of society, and some people have the ability to do amazing things buy using different metals to do different things (like controlling emotions in others and various other things).
It can be a bit complicated, so if you want to understand fully what this book is about and all the ins and outs of the magic, check out the better descriptions than mine. Ultimately let’s get into what I thought about the characters, plot and the world that Brandon created – and if I’m planning on reading more!
While I did like the characters, it was really hard to keep track of all of them, and who they all were (particularly with an audiobook format). I think there were just a bit too many for my personal preferences. The names are quite unusual, and this made it even more of a challenge to remember who was doing what, and which team they were on etc.
The length of this book was pretty weighty, but it was also a story that took place over quite a fair amount of time with time jumps. I’m not used to books that take place over such long periods of time but that are still interesting and flow well. I appreciated that this book DID do this (it was also my first “high fantasy” that I made all the way through and I liked it quite a bit actually).
There was a huge amount of info dumping at times, but something about it didn’t feel that annoying like it can with other books. I was fully aware of it, and yet I didn’t mind. The world was so interesting, and the way the information was being presented had enough relation to the characters and plot that it didn’t take away or take me out, it added.
The theme of discussing religion throughout was an unusual choice. While it doesn’t favour any one in particular, and seemingly makes some up (although who knows because more keep being presented all the time), it was kind of….. odd. It felt strange that these people are talking about that in the middle of all the craziness that was happening around them. I love a good Christian fiction book, so religion in books is not something I don’t like, it was more so that this seemed to acknowledge that religion exists but also that it doesn’t much matter which one you believe… and that’s something I disagree with so perhaps that’s why it felt so disjointed for me. I also didn’t understand the point of this, as the story isn’t really about religion and how it can be good or bad. Interesting to think about, but maybe better placed in another type of story.
In terms of the series as a whole, I did end up looking up the spoilers for the other “main books”. What makes the Mistborn or Cosmere books complex to read is that there are so many of them and they seem to relate and intersect in some way. So if you want to commit, you have to really commit to reading quite a few – some are part of the main or original series, and others were added later on. With where the story is headed after book one, I think the continuing of this one will not be something I’m interested in. I was REALLY excited to read about a magical heist…. this book didn’t really end up being that and shifted focus to something else entirely.
The way the magic system works was very well thought out and explained. Though there was a lot to understand and explain, because we are going on a journey with our main character, we are learning about it all alongside her. Rules fly out of my memory simply because there are so many of them, and the way things work sometimes ended up being skimmed over by my brain… but ultimately it was impressive how everything was linked and presented to make sense.
The ultimate result was a book that I liked but didn’t love. It was good, but I didn’t care to continue. Maybe another part of the cosmere would hold better luck for me, or maybe I’m better to stick with the superhero side of Brandon’s writing.
See You in the Adventures!