Good morning Rebels, and welcome back to my life.
On my recent trip to Austin, Texas I asked many of you what books you thought I should read. And more than one of you suggested Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.
Believe it or not, I’ve never read a Sanderson book before, which I’m told is basically blasphemy for a fantasy author. Sorry. But I fixed it now!
So, how’s the book? Well, it’s fantastic. It’s just, like, really really good. The quality of the writing is exceptional, the characters are rich and vibrant, and the world building is superb.
You’ve got to talk about the magic system when you talk about Mistborn. It’s crazy awesome. It’s inventive and unique, like nothing I’ve ever seen before in fantasy.
Sanderson is known for his magic systems. Like, before I ever heard plots or descriptions of any of his books, I heard “You’ve gotta read Brandon Sanderson. His magic systems are just awesome.”
And it’s easy to see why. It’s like an actual science. Sanderson proposed a law about magic, basically saying that readers will be more satisfied with your magic the better they understand that magic.
So you learn all the rules of it, and then when the book’s key conflict is resolved you have that, “Oh, WOW” moment at the end, which is an extremely powerful experience as a reader.
I don’t think complex magic systems are necessary for every fantasy book in the world. I mean, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones do just fine despite basically saying, “IT’S MAGIC, BITCHES!”
BUT, magic like Sanderson’s can be a powerful addition to a world that’s already well fleshed-out and populated with interesting characters.
It’s like aliens in science fiction. There’s plenty of great science fiction that has NO aliens. But when you do create alien races and you create them well, they can be a great enhancement.
When I started Mistborn, I was afraid I might not like it. I’m not a huge fan of fantasy’s current love of darkness, where everything is evil and terrible and everyone’s oppressed and everything sucks, like in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, for example.
And the first chapter started off that way, and I just kind of rolled my eyes and went, “Oh, boy.”
But then we met one of the main characters, Kelsier, and Kelsier is like a flaming torch in all of that darkness. He’s one of my favorite fantasy protagonists in a long, long time, and every scene with him was an absolute joy to read.
And when the other main character, Vin, shows up, we get to see Kelsier pull her through the process of realizing that the world isn’t as dark and terrible as she’s always thought it was.
I saw this process as a metaphor for fantasy in general. Like Sanderson was taking us by the hand and saying, “Listen guys, I know fantasy’s gotten dark and depressing, but remember there’s wizards and Inquisitors and nobility, and we can still have FUN!”
But now I’ve gotta talk about the one thing in the book that didn’t totally blow my skirt up, and that’s what I guess you’d call the tone of it.
I read fantasy to be transported. I want to feel like I’m in another place and another time—somewhere fundamentally different from present-time Earth.
The only thing I didn’t like about Mistborn is that the characters talk, for the most part, like you and me would. They use phrases that come off as anachronistic. They don’t feel appropriate for what is, essentially if not actually, medieval fantasy.
Like they use the word “okay” and they’ll say “a couple days,” and just language that felt more contemporary than I generally like in my fantasy.
You can’t even say this is something wrong with Mistborn. It’s obviously a choice by the author, and it’s clearly meant to make the book more relatable. I just prefer it when things are more like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones in that respect, where people say “Well met” instead of “Hi.”
The ending of the book is killer, and I will be picking up and reading the rest of the trilogy as quick as I possibly can. I don’t do starred ratings on my reviews any more, but if I did, Mistborn would have a lot of them.
Have you read Mistborn? Did you love it or hate it? And what was your favorite part of the book? Let me know in the comments, but please—tag your spoilers.
As always, thank you so much for watching and an extra special thank you to my Patreon supporters who make this channel possible. I will see you tomorrow. Maybe. Byyye.