Series Review: The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

Written by: Brandon Sanderson
Release Date: July 25, 2006
Books:  The Final Empire (#1), The Well of Ascension (#2), The Hero of Ages (#3)
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In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage – Allomancy, a magic of the metals.


I may or may not be screaming internally right now, which is particularly impressive since at the moment I’m writing this, it’s been over a week since I finished the last book. Brandon Sanderson just has that effect, apparently.

As you can probably tell by now, this trilogy is among some of my favorite books of the year so far.

Here’s the thing: I liked Steelheart, the only Brandon Sanderson book I’d read before this, but I didn’t love it the way a lot of other people did. So I was expecting the Mistborn trilogy to have that kind of ‘like-but-don’t-love’ effect on me as well. I already knew to expect amazing plots and worldbuilding and twists from Brandon Sanderson, and this series very much delivered them; I can’t count the amount of times I had to put down my kindle to remind myself to breathe because the plot had taken a turn I really wasn’t expecting. What I didn’t expect was the equally amazing character development, or the emotional hold the story would come to have over me. I read the last half of The Hero of Ages in one day (the week I had a paper due, no less) because I needed to see what happened.


I know the length of the trilogy might be a deterrent for some people, but the only time I really felt the length was during the first hundred-or-so pages of the first book, when I wasn’t fully invested in the world yet and there was a bit of (unpleasant, but necessary) info-dumping going on. After a certain point, though, something clicked between me and the book, and from that moment on I had no problems keeping my interest. Brandon Sanderson’s writing is straightforward and easy to read, and his pacing makes the story flow extremely well. There’s an excellent balance of action and character and world building and everything else an excellent series needs.

I’m just…so impressed by how Brandon Sanderson’s brain works. He plans everything out brilliantly and has so many amazing ideas that he weaves together and never falls for the simplistic solution and always manages to surprise me. If you can’t already tell, I love this series and I can’t wait to explore the rest of his books.


I’m not a fan of that thing books do where ONE AND ONLY ONE female character is allowed to be complex and well-developed and awesome, but the rest of the women who show up are shallow or evil or both, and that was definitely a thing with the first Mistborn book. Even in later books, when a few more women showed up (who I loved), they cast of the series was still disproportionately male. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, because (a) there are plenty of scenes that establish that Vin is, to an extent, Like Other Girls, and (b) some great (albeit fairly peripheral) female characters are introduced in the second and third books. This is actually a problem I had with Steelheart as well, thoughts  thankfully I’ve heard that Sanderson’s other books are better with this.

Sometimes the dialogue would slide into being awkward and forced, and the writing got somewhat repetitive. (Fun game: take a shot every time someone uses the word ‘trust’. I hope you have someone you trust enough to take you to the hospital afterwards.) This wasn’t the biggest of deals, but it did take me out of the moment more than I would have liked.


I don’t know if I’ve ever encountered an author who does plots as amazingly as Brandon Sanderson. Every time you think you know what’s going to happen, the book turns your expectation on its head with yet another amazing plot twist. I was constantly trying to guess and theorize what would happen, and most of my theories turned out to be wrong. And let’s talk about how awesome it is when authors subvert standard tropes, because Brandon Sanderson does that A LOT. It’s been a while since I read a book where I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen, so I found Mistborn’s unpredictability extremely refreshing. There’s so much going on in the story and it all fits together seamlessly by the end. I never once felt cheated or unsatisfied by a new plot development; everything that happened was exactly what the story needed.

And let’s talk about the worldbuilding and the magic system. The magic in this series is different from anything I’ve ever seen before, and I loved watching it at work. Everything is so detailed and complex, but somehow it never feels overwhelming; it’s integrated into the story in a way that doesn’t disrupt the flow of the plot. Given how much information needed to be provided for readers, it’s amazing how little I felt bored or weighed down. And this is me we’re talking about. I am not a plot person. But where Brandon Sanderson is concerned, I think everybody becomes a plot person.

Finally, let’s talk about the characters, because I love nearly all of them more than words can say. Even when they do the wrong thing, their actions make sense with who they are, and the relationship dynamics between them (both the main ones and the understated ones) do things to my heart. Vin is one of my favorite protagonists that I’ve encountered so far this year. She’s blunt and direct and amazingly kick-ass. She has so many different sides to her, and she undergoes an amazing character arc where she really comes into her own. Elend starts out as the love interest but has some of his own excellent development; his conflict between who he wants to be and who he needs to be has no easy answer, and that makes me appreciate it all the more. (Also, the romance works; it takes up its proper share of narrative space and fits with both characters’ arcs and the way they function together by the third book is amazing.) Kelsier–don’t even talk to me about Kelsier, about his past and his smiles and his sass and his determination and his dynamic with his crew and his beautiful mentor relationship with Vin. I’ll just be in that corner over there alternating between laughter and tears. Spook just came out of the woodwork in the last book and made me feel things. And then we have Sazed and Tindwyl and TenSoon and Breeze and Ham and Allriane and Marsh and quite a few others, and I love them all.

Reading the Mistborn trilogy was quite an experience. There were tears, and laughter, and quite a lot of screaming. I was a little dubious after Steelheart, but now I am one hundred percent in on the Brandon Sanderson love. Thank goodness he’s written so many books.


I would hope I’ve made this pretty obvious. Read the thing. Do yourself a favor and read the thing as soon as possible.


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