It’s rare to read a fantasy series that truly distinguishes itself in character and plot. The first 20 pages reminded me of R.A. Salvatore, bare details and questionable characters. However I was quickly proven wrong with none of the characters conforming to the set fantasy archetypes. Sanders spins three fleshed out books full of unique people and even more impressively, a unique mythology and world.
We’re brought into a dark and muted world, whose skies are blighted with consistent ash falls. Plants and animals that struggle to exist in a world of limited sunlight. A planet populated by a slave class called the Skaa and the nobility, who are the descendants of those that supported the ascent of the god king the high ruler. Interbreeding with the Skaa results in children being born with the ability of too burn one or two metals, known as Mistings. Rarer still are those that are born with the ability to burn all of these metals, they are the Mistborn.
The aspect that I found most interesting about Allomancy is that everything action has consequences. Trying to push or pull against something smaller than the Allomancer, ie: a coin, door handle, etc. results in the item if unanchored flying towards or away from the Allomancer. If you try to an armored foot solider, he may not be pushed but you will be propelled. Sanderson also introduces Feurochemists,who have an ability native to Terris men and women. These individuals can store a physical trait such as speed, strength, health or weight into a metal. This saps the attribute but allows them to access it later, if you want to store strength rule out any heavy labor for that day.
The books begin by diving into a plot by Kelsier, a notorious thief and survivor of the pits. After a failed attempt on attacking The Lord Ruler, Kel and his wife Mare, were given a death sentence in the mines. Kel survived and in doing so “snapped”, revealing his Mistborn abilities. He’s charming, confident a natural leader, but his kinder nature is often offset by his enthusiasm for killing the nobility. Throughout the books Kel refuses to be broken, even using his failures to further his cause.
Vin is frightened young lady, who has been surviving in the underworld of thieves. She is unaware of being Mistborn and is rescued by Kel. She serves as a counterpoint to Kel’s ruthlessness and in the later books evolves into a mix of naiveté and Kel’s willingness to do anything to win. She’s also one of my favorite fictional female characters to date.
Sanderson mixes a great cast of characters with an almost urban, gothic backdrop. Towers, parapets and rooftops are the playgrounds of the Mistborn hero and heroine. As the abilities of the characters grow throughout the books, so does the reach and strength of the malevolence of the Deepness. The mythology of the book and its world’s history constantly changes upon introduction of a new fact or manipulation of a previously established fact. It keeps the reader constantly trying put the pieces together. I very much enjoyed the way that these books played off what’s expected from the fantasy genre.