Book Review: Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson


Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson, is a fantasy trilogy that takes you into a world where the characters can “burn” metals inside their bodies to give rise to certain powers, such as increased strength, the ability to push and pull other metals, an enhancement of the senses, or the most potent of all, the ability to see several seconds into the future (critical for fighting).

Mistings possess one of the nine powers; a mistborn possess all nine. (For more information, see this Allomantic Table of Metals.)

The protagonist, Vin, is a young girl, an orphan thief, who doesn’t realize she possesses these mistborn powers until she meets her mentor, Kelsier. Kelsier recruits Vin along with other crew members to overthrow the Lord Ruler, a despot who maintains his power, in part, through a sharply defined class system between noblemen and skaa.

Mistborn has been one of my favorite books to listen to this year. The system of magic — burning metals (called “Allomancy”) — gives rise to a fascinating world, one that mixes innate capabilities with class and mystery.

The Mistborn trilogy is a classic and highly regarded in the fantasy genre. It’s full of action scenes, intricate plots, and compelling characters. The book is appropriate for any age. (My 10-year-old daughter listened to two of the three books.)

I hadn’t really listened to fantasy novels before Mistborn. The closest book was J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit. With Mistborn, I realized that I like fantasy literature. For example, after finishing the book, I decided to listen to Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World — a series that Sanderson finished on behalf of Jordan (because Jordan died around book nine, before finishing the series).

To learn more about Mistborn, see the Mistborn page on Brandon Sanderson’s site.

To listen to an audio version of Mistborn, download Mistborn from Audible.

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By Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer working for the 41st Parameter in San Jose, California. I'm interested in topics related to technical writing, such as visual communication, API documentation, information architecture, web publishing, JavaScript, front-end design, content strategy, Jekyll, and more. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

  • Jenny

    I loved the Mistborn trilogy. Great characterization and insight into the making of a leader. Have you read Brent Weeks?

    • Tom Johnson

      Thanks Jenny. I haven’t read Brent Weeks. If there’s a particular novel by Weeks you recommend, let me know.

  • Rick Fielding

    I started with Jordan’s Wheel of Time story and loved the books that Sanderson wrote for that series. I’ve now read all of Sanderson’s book and he has quickly become my favorite author. Loved the Mistborn series. Way of Kings is a start to a great new series he is working on. Elantris is excellent also. Thanks for the review Tom

    • Tom Johnson

      Thanks for the comment, Rick. I’m glad to connect with another Sanderson fan. I’ll have to check out his other books.

  • Jon

    I have stumbled across this page somewhat late, and by accident, but I felt I should comment; I have a whole bookshelf of Sanderson books! As Rick said, Way of Kings is fantastic. You may also enjoy David Farland’s “Runelords” series if you haven’t come across it already. (I am not sure if that one is available as an audio book, I tend to go for the old-fashioned paper books myself!)

  • Daniel Archer (@danielarcher)

    I too enjoyed the Mistborn series. I read an awful lot of fantasy and it’s rare to find an original, well-developed magic system that is both interesting and easy to comprehend as you immerse yourself in the story.

    You’re definitely on the right track with Robert Jordan. Arguably the best fantasy epic ever written (certainly in the top 5 for anything of that scope and complexity). It helps that it’s pretty well written. Since you and I both write for a living, I imagine you would have a hard time getting through a decent story that was terribly written. That applies to an awful lot of the standard fantasy fare.

    • Daniel Archer (@danielarcher)

      By the way, Brandon Sanderson is an interesting follow on Twitter (@BrandSanderson).

    • Tom Johnson

      Thanks for your comment on this review, Daniel. I just finished the second book of The Wheel of Time yesterday. I can see how Jordan was probably a strong influence on Sanderson. But I’m not that familiar with the fantasy genre to recognize how original a work is. I am writing a short review of the Wheel of Time I’ve read so far. I’m glad that you said it’s probably within the top 5. I’d be curious to know what else is on your list.

  • Danny

    To follow along the lines of the other posts, you should read Sanderson’s first published book, Elantris. I love his work and have been following him since that was released. I’ve been unable to find anyone able that has been able to match his caliber. I’ve pushed through all of Robert Jordan’s series as well and find Sanderson very easy to approach.

    On a different, I find it a pleasant surprise that you’re into his work primarily because I thought your blog was simply on technical writing but I shouldn’t be surprised since you studied at the same university as him 😉 Did you happen to take classes with him too?