[Book Review] The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

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★★★★☆

3.5/5 stars (rounded up to four stars because I’m nice)

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 colour once more?

After the disappointment that was Graceling, I was hesitant to dive into another high fantasy novel I’d garnered high hopes for — but my worries were not needed. The Final Empire follows the story of Kelsier and Vin, the two main characters, who, in simple terms, are trying to overthrow an oppressive government. I’m going to start off with the positive before moving to the negative, but my overall thoughts of this novel was that it was good. I really liked it. High fantasy being one of my favourite genres, I was stoked to find one that I actually enjoyed. And I’d recommend it to someone who is looking for a fun high fantasy with a unique premises in a heartbeat. It drew me in from the beginning — which doesn’t often happen.

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The characters were great. The story follows two points of views — Kelsier’s and Vin’s, alternating between them as the novel progresses. Kelsier had a contagious humour which lifted the story up, despite the fact that it’s quite a dark fantasy novel; Vin took me awhile to warm up to, but once I got to know her better, I realized she was an interdependent character, and despite her daring nature, she was likeable.

The prose was wonderful. Being a descriptive writer to me can be a double-edged knife, and this is why the prose is part of the reason is why I liked this novel, and there was also an element to it that I didn’t like. But this part is about the positives, and Sanderson created a vividly described world to the point where everything was easy to imagine.

The story premises was unique. Allomancy? Ash falling from the sky? Burning metals in your stomach? Awesome, I know. This is quite a possibly one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. Another thing I liked: the world was introduced slowly to the reader, not dumped on us, so it was easy to grasp the complicated nature of the Final Empire.

Rounding up the positives in one sentences: Lovable characters, wonderful writing, and a unique story.

But, alas, I didn’t feel like this novel was perfect perfect.

tldr

The prose, while wonderful, sometimes bogged the story down. Yes, I love descriptive writing. I really do, but there were some points in the novel where I wanted the characters to just get on with it, and while the story has a certain direction it was heading in, I felt as though sometimes we weren’t getting their quick enough.

I wasn’t a fan of the ending. This is a completely non-spoiler review, so being incredibly vague . . . I really liked this, though I am hesitant to pick up the second in the series, because, well, it won’t be the same as the first. (If you’ve read this book, you probably know what I’m talking about.)

Summing up my negatives: sometimes the prose held down the story, and the ending… Well, I didn’t much like the ending. However: this is a novel well worth reading, and while I am hesitant about reading its sequels, this was almost a four-star read.

Have you read The Final Empire? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below.

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