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Review: Mistborn 01: The Final Empire

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. Criminal mastermind Kelsier teaches Allomancy, the magic of metals, to another Mistborn, urchin Vin, 16. The unlikely heroine is distracted by rich Venture heir Elend. Can Kelsier’s thieving crew take on the tyrant Lord Ruler and bring back colour to their world?

Goodreads, synopsis


The Final Empire ignited my love of reading. It was the first book I read when I decided I needed a new way to relax and started reading for pleasure. I couldn’t put It down.

Having now read many books, I can safely say, the magic systems in Mistborn are my favourite; including TV, movies and games. Sanderson strikes a perfect balance of power. No character is superman, where his only limitations are kryptonite and his conscience.

There are three types of magic in Mistborn: Allomancy, Feruchemy and Hemalurgy. Allomancy is the one I’ll discuss. Do not look up the other two or read further into Allomancy, it’ll ruin reading the books. Allomancers—those who are capable of Allomancy—ingest metals which they are then able to “burn” as fuel for their ability. I write ability, not abilities, as most Allomancers are capable of burning only one Allomantic metal—they are known as a Misting. Those who can burn all Allomantic metals are known as Mistborn—powerful, rare and feared.

The metals come in groupings (Physical, Mental, Temporal, and Enhancement), and each metal has a corresponding metal. Each metal exhibits a Push or Pull effect; internal or external. For example, burning Steel allows for the Pushing of metals, whereas burning Iron allows one to Pull on a metal. If one were to burn Steel and Push against an object that was light, like a coin, the coin would fly through the air like a bullet. Conversely, Pushing on an object much heavier than oneself would result in the person moving in the opposite direction. Metals can also be “flared” when burning, which is the process of burning the metal much faster for a higher intensity burst of power.

However, as I reference earlier, there is a balance; a weakness. Allomancers, even Mistborn, are not all powerful. They are mortal. Their power relies on fuel, which they “burn”; it runs out. A person can only carry so much fuel.

“Our belief is often strongest when it should be weakest. That is the nature of hope.”


The story centres around Kelsier, his crew of Allomancers and Vin—a street urchin of 16—as they plan to overthrow the tyrannical Lord Ruler and free the Skaa from slavery, and if they topple the noble houses while doing it, all the better.

The world is one covered with ash, where little grows and what does grow doesn’t grow easy and grows brown. The days are hard; living in slavery brutal; ash falls constantly; and at night, unnatural mists take over the land and Skaa fear to venture outside.

Skaa do all the work; noble houses throw parties and the Lord Ruler rules ruthlessly from his palace, Kredik Shaw. The Steel Ministry, a priesthood dedicated to the Lord Ruler, filled with Steel Inquisitors—seemingly immortal beings—police the lands on the Lord Ruler’s behalf.

“I’ve always been very confident in my immaturity.”


Kelsier is a brilliant main character. He’s positive, driven, enigmatic and powerful; but also tortured inside and violent. He acts as mentor to Vin, herself a tortured soul who has spent much of her life living on the streets. She prefers to stay quiet and hidden, and doesn’t relate to friendship, love or compassion. She’s a very interesting character to see grow as Sanderson fleshes her out throughout the book. She learns to believe in friendship and be a part of something. Yet remains doubtful of herself.

Each member of Kelsier’s crew has their own Allomantic ability, personality, quirk and role within the team. Sanderson fleshes each out nicely throughout the book as they carry out their roles within the team and by naturally dropping bits of information about their past.

“Belief isn’t simply a thing for fair times and bright days… What is belief–what is faith–if you don’t continue in it after failure?… Anyone can believe in someone, or something that always succeeds… But failure… ah, now, that is hard to believe in, certainly and truly. Difficult enough to have value. Sometimes we just have to wait long enough… then we find out why exactly it was that we kept believing”


Sazed is another key character. He comes from a race of beings who are effectively keepers of history; Sazed specialises in religion. He also mentors Vin outside of Allomancy, but more importantly he is key to Sanderson naturally informing the reader of the history of the Empire, among other things. Sanderson proves a master storyteller throughout.

As mentioned previously, I was engrossed in this book, at no point did I feel Sanderson was dropping information unnaturally, or worldbuilding with over-descriptions or every little detail. Worldbuilding is done expertly, at a good pace, naturally and leaves room for your own imagination.

If you enjoy fantasy, even if you don’t usually read fantasy, but don’t dislike it, this book is a must read!

“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.”