Sanderson gives you a world which will blow you away with its sheer ingenuity, in-depth construction and a history enshrouded in mystery. It’s a definite page turner and will grip you so strongly that it would be hard to let go. It had a great concept and the ideas were well-developed, strung together intricately and coherently.
Summarily, this whole book is one big moment of…
**MILD SPOILERS AHEAD**
A thousand years long rebellion
An ordinary yet extraordinary girl
Wonderfully constructed, the plot is a web of entangled knots – each knot unravelling one mystery after another – and will keep you, figuratively speaking, on your toes, wildly guessing with bated breath as to what happens next. In fact, the very first sentence of the first chapter gripped me and I found it hard to put down the book (to, you know, go focus on that mundane thing called life…)
“Ash fell from the sky”
The Final Empire is a land of ash, mists and red sunlight. There is no green fertility; there is only a decaying brown of plants grown in plantations and on which the people of the Empire thrive. And it has been so for a thousand years. Since the Lord Ruler came to power.
Beaten down skaa (or slaves) are forced to work on the plantations by the nobility who lease them from the Lord Ruler. Their living conditions are deplorable and they live half-starved, overworked lives. Those who run away live like thieves, acting like predators whereas they’re actually scavengers who scrape away anything they can from the Noblemen and the Ministry. To better their conditions the skaa have been rebelling ever since the Lord Ruler came to power.
However, there’s an advantage that those of the elite enjoy,
“Allomancy. The mystical power held by the nobility, granted to them by the Lord Ruler some thousand years before as a reward for their loyalty…The nobility had Allomancy and privilege because of their ancestors; the skaa were punished for the same reason.”
And this is what essentially drives the whole plot. And when you throw in political intrigues, balls as battlefields, a thieving crew with a conscience and the job of a (well I wouldn’t say century) millennia, then it accounts for one great read.
“We’ll rob from the Lord Ruler himself!”
There’s a lot more that I want to talk about but I don’t think I’ll be able to say much without giving away some aspects of the plot. Anyhow, I’ll say this – the plot is full of shocks, surprises, mayhem and intrigue that it would be hard for one to put down the book.
Sanderson’s irony, personification and imagery are absolute marvels. But it’s his characterisation that’s his greatest achievement in the book. Multidimensional, well-rounded, unique and dynamic – that’s how I would describe the characters in the book. “(And since I’m a literature student, I would love to dissect the characters thoroughly and in detail! Actually, I might do that. Soon. :D)
Kelsier is a mysterious yet lively rebel. He carries some deep scars, both literal and figurative. He has been introduced as a person who has vastly changed from his previous ways and he also changes throughout the book. He has suffered yet he still has it in him to smile.
“You ask why I smile so much…? Well, the Lord Ruler thinks he has claimed laughter and joy for himself. I’m disinclined to let him do so. This is one battle that doesn’t take very much effort to fight.”
Once a thief and now hired by the rebels to help them, this guy is a master at manipulation. He may act as an utter arse sometimes but he is loyal to the core. His loss and scars of the past have shaped him into a force to be reckoned with.
“They hit me where it couldn’t have hurt worse. I’m going to do likewise.”
“I am what you will soon be,” the stranger said, stepping up to the rift. The ribbons of his enveloping black cloak billowed around him, mixing with the mists as he turned towards Walin. “I am a survivor.”
Nonetheless one can’t argue that he is a genius who can pull off seemingly impossible jobs (at the cost of his crewmates’ sanity though). One of his crewmates once exclaimed, after said impossible jobs,
“You blessed lunatic…you blessed genius.”
And this is him in a nutshell.
“The Lord Ruler was a force, like the winds or the mists.”
Although there is little seen of him in the majority of the book, he had a hovering presence throughout the unravelling of the plot. He’s been described as omnipotent and immortal, and as one who can’t be killed. Plus, his story as to how he rose to power was quite interesting and it wasn’t without its own twists and turns.
He is a character which will keep the readers pondering throughout the book. Although the characters in the books themselves had a set view through which they saw him, I couldn’t help but contemplate. But so did Vin.
She’s been a part of thieving crews ever since her brother took her and fled when she was little. Her survival instincts are strong and in a place like Luthadel such instincts are the only way to live. She’s intelligent and has her own opinions over how things should be. Nonetheless, her brother, Reen, has always told her to not to trust anyone. Betrayal is something that can be given by any person. Her instinctual distrust when she meets people and her lack of friends can be attributed to Reen’s philosophies. But Reen did teach her how to survive when alone. Kelsier described her as,
“She was paranoid, true, but not timid.”
She was a “quiet, small thing” but “hid an intensity…[that] was impressive”. Her growth as a character is smoothly written by the author. She is not one who can be subdued no matter how you try. Her outer appearance is a stark contrast to her stubborn, headstrong nature. When put in conflicting situations, one can always count on her to pick what’s important.
This is the Final Empire Vin, she told herself…Don’t forget the ash because you see a little silk.
Even though there are inconsistencies at some points, they always make sense. Here Sanderson’s writing skills come into play where Vin’s dichotomies always seem sensible and they play an important part in her growth as a character.
“My behaviour is, nonetheless, deplorable. Unfortunately, I’m quite prone to such bouts of deplorability – take, for instance, my fondness for reading books at the dinner table.”
He is the cutest. Reading books at a ball and behaving atrociously (according to the rules of the high society) towards noblewomen are one of his favourite things to do. His geekiness is, ironically, what appeals to Vin. Their budding relationship is quite amusing and his interactions with Vin are endearing.
Let’s see how he reacts if I don’t interrupt his reading, Vin thought in annoyance…The young lord paused several times as she ate, peeking at her over the top of his book. He obviously expected her to say something, but she never did.
Even though, people, including his father, take him as a naïve fool, he is anything but. He’s just more considerate and caring than the rest of the sharks with whom he lives. He’s genuine.
“He felt like a real person, not a front or a face.”
He’s the steward, and I think he is the best character so far. He is a walking, talking encyclopaedia with a wisdom of twenty men. He’s also Vin’s guard and teacher, and will help her through…some things. He’s like that seemingly serious grandfather who’ll offer you candy behind your mother’s back. He’s also extremely loyal and it is his loyalty to others that often lands him in difficult situations but he, himself, is in no way foolish enough to be put into certain situations.
The dialogues he delivers are insightful and thought provoking. Sanderson comments on such mundane topics which are so obvious but he writes them in a way which make you give an impressive ‘hmm’. There are so many dialogues of Sazed that are quote-worthy that I don’t know where to begin!
And then there are other characters that I think if I start to talk about will give my fingers cramps from all the furious typing that I’m doing. But, rest assured, they are equally worthy of being praised. Sanderson wrote them really well too.
So if you want to read about a world of swirling mystery and strange creatures charged with action, magic, political intrigues and an ancient rebellion, then this is your book!