Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Book Review: Mistborn

I love reading to a fault. Even during busy times in college I found excuses to pick up lots of books from the library and read them instead of or in addition to doing my schoolwork. After Katrina was born I didn't read anything for a couple of months, which was probably the longest I'd gone without reading a novel in, I don't know, over a decade! I don't read a lot these days because our library doesn't have a whole lot of selection, but occasionally I'll pick up a stack of books and read like mad for a whole week. I can read very fast, which is a problem when I am reading something I really care about, because I tend to skip over things on accident. I consciously have to slow down sometimes. My favorite kinds of books are young adult fantasy. The reason I specify "young adult" is because adult fantasy is often X-rated and takes itself too seriously. With only a few exceptions, I don't really get into epic fantasies because (yawn) they really get way into their fantasy worlds and aren't actually that good. Anyway, I spent all of yesterday reading Mistborn: The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson. Here is my review.

The Hero of Ages is third in the Mistborn trilogy. The first is The Final Empire, followed by The Well of Ascension. Brandon Sanderson wrote these after thinking, what happens if the hero actually fails and the bad guy wins? That said, these books are still about a group of heroes and heroines who are fighting an evil dictator and other evil forces. But their actual enemy isn't always what they think it is. And by the third book, they find out that they can't always even trust themselves.

The main character is Vin, a teenager raised on the streets and who discovers she has some pretty amazing powers. She is scooped up by a dynamic man named Kelsier who has some daring schemes for changing the lives of the oppressed lower class.

I won't say much more about the plots of the first two books, but I really enjoyed them. I was happy after I read them to discover that the third book would be out in only a few months. I wanted to buy a copy but felt like I should save the money and wait for it at the library. The Hero of Ages made it to the NYTimes Bestseller list, which tells you how popular this series has become.

So, the third book. I have read a handful of books in my life that were so good that when I reached the end of them, my chest actually ached. When I put down the book last night at midnight, I was literally breathless. It was that good. Several times during the last 150 pages I had to put the book down in between chapters and take a rest because the action was so gripping. If Adam hadn't been asleep on the opposite couch I wouldn't have been able to remain silent at certain parts. One thing that really fascinated me about this book was the religious struggle that one of the characters goes through. That particular story line really was rather poignant. Then at the end, his story and the main story tie together for a surprising yet fulfilling conclusion.

Rating: 5/5. Definitely.

Recommendation-- if you like fantasy at all, you will most likely like these books. If you don't, you still might like them. There is no sex, very little swearing, and in the first two books, the violence is not graphic. However, in the third book it does get a bit graphic. If you're like me and you can skim-read easily while still picking up the main points, then you can skip through those parts. But I can definitely see why someone would not like the third book because of that factor. That said, I loved it even though I have a difficulty with violence and violent imagery getting stuck in my head and affecting me. I just thought I would add that caviat, in case anyone decides to read these books from my recommendation.

Favorite quote:

'The mist spirit watched him, its figure barely distinguisheable in the patterns of the flowing mists.
"What?" Elend asked. "What do you want of me?"
The mist spirit raised its arm and pointed to the northeast.
That's what it did the first time it met me. It just pointed, as if trying to get me to go somewhere. I didn't understand what it meant then either.
"Look," Elend said, suddenly feeling exhausted. "If you want to say something, why not just say it?"
The mist spirit stood quietly in the mists.
"At least write it," Elend said. "The pointing just isn't working." He knew that the creature--whatever it was--had some corporeality. After all, it had managed to stab Elend handily enough.
He expected the creature to just continue standing there. However, to Elend's surprise, it followed the command, kneeling down in the ash. It reached out with a misty hand, and began to scratch in the ash. Elend took a step forward, cocking his head to see what the thing was writing.
I will kill you, the words said. Death, death, death.
"Well . . . that's pleasant," Elend said, feeling an eerie chill.'

That made me laugh so much. Hope everyone is having a great day!

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