Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review: Mistborn

Vin is a street kid, living as a thief in a street gang.  She's not happy, but she's alive, and that's all she really wants. After all, she's skaa; a serf, a peasant, and a girl at that.  What more can she really expect?  But then she meets Kelsier - showy, flamboyant, magic Kelsier - who recognizes her for what she is.  She's a Mistborn like him.  He teaches her to use her powers, and takes her to a world she's seen but never even dreamt of entering: the world of the nobles.

Kelsier, meanwhile, is the Survivor of Hathsin, the only person to ever escape a death sentence.  He has a grudge against the Lord Ruler and he's willing to throw the country into anarchy to despose the immortal king.  Vin is just another pawn in his plan... a plan to save the world and bring revolution.

Entertainment: ★★★

Although I was mildly interested by the story, I wasn’t dying to know what would happen next. Things moved a bit slowly and at times even dragged. I liked Mistborn, but I wasn’t overwhelmingly excited about it.

Plot: ★★

There were twists and turns and U-turns that kept me guessing… right up until about halfway through the book. From there, I guessed (accurately) about nine-tenths of the rest of the story. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed.

Characters: ★★

Kelsier really shone, easily earning a five. Vin was decently written. After that, everything went downhill. Even Kelsier’s awesomeness couldn’t save his friends and enemies from two-dimensionality. Frankly, most of the characters bored me; they had a single, central trait, and beyond that trait never developed, grew, or did much at all except serve as stage props for Kelsier and Vin.

Writing: ★★

Sanderson loves details. Loves them. As a result, the writing is detail-oriented and is bogged down with often repetitive and/or useless descriptions, making for very slow reading. Also, although the story is in theory told from several (too many, at times) points of view, there is very little difference between the characters’ voices, and so the point-of-view switches just made for further confusion in an already complicated story.

World Building: ★★★★★

I know, this isn’t a category I usually have on reviews. But I couldn’t help it. The one redeeming feature of Mistborn, in my opinion, is its world building. This is some of the best I have ever seen. First of all, the “magic” is creative, innovative, unusual, and really interesting; the Mistborn swallow and then "burn" different types of metals to create different powers. Second, the “past” isn’t a half-baked legend or two, it’s got a fully developed history. Finally, the world itself is imaginative and unique, from its weather (although, to be fair, I did want a bit more explanation for the unusual “ash falls” and such) to its flora and fauna to its social structures. Although the rest of the book isn’t that great, I thought it was a worthwhile read just for its world building.

To be fair to the other books I review, however, I won’t factor WB into my final score.

End Result: two stars. I was not impressed.

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