Thoughts on The Mistborn Trilogy

Having just finished the third book of Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy, I must admit I’m surprised. What I thought to be a quick and easy read went much deeper than expected. Looking back on them all I have to commend Sanderson on his well formulated plot arc. By the end all of the pieces fit together nicely, but in a way you couldn’t exactly see coming.

The intro blurbs are always interesting, but almost never revealing. If you were to go back and read them again after having read the book I’m sure they’d clue you into the things to come, but chronologically they serve only to pique your interest and keep the pages turning. They give little nuggets of writing from different authors about events surrounding the story, but never in a direct way. It all serves to draw you in more, and it works.

The setting itself is apocalyptic, which I always like. In my suburban life of Starbucks and Wegmans it is compelling to read about an earth covered in ash, with earthquakes shaking the ground often to remind everyone of the coming end. Death or violence is always just around the corner too, so you always have apprehension about the main characters every time they venture out to do something. That being said, Sanderson is not as blood or lust-thirsty as George R. R. Martin, so there is some aspect of timidity to it all. The deaths of enemies and friends alike are treated briefly but definitively and without elaboration. This helps move the plot forward quickly. With so much plot to cover this helps the overall pace of the book greatly. I never felt like the book was dragging along in the slightest.

The premise itself is pretty interesting. People have the ability to gain certain abilities when they ingest metals. Pewter, for example, gives physical strength and balance. Steel allows a person to “push” on other metals, which yields a sniper-like ability to fire coins at others. There are 16 metals in total, but the trilogy only refers to a subset. I suspect this is mainly to allow for future expansion of the franchise, but it does also serve to maintain plot-level interest in whether or not the characters will expand their capabilities.

Although the metals are covered in sufficient depth, Sanderson doesn’t linger so much that it becomes boring. I did note that he briefly re-describes the things they do within each new novel which is to be expected. It isn’t annoying in the slightest. Also, at the end of each book you’ll find a quick reference to all the metals and what they do, eliminating any possible confusion for those on-again, off-again or forgetful readers.

One thing I really appreciated in these books was the lack of predictability. Oftentimes in novels you can guess where the plot is going well in advance. Not so with these, so that was refreshing! The author intentionally leaves items or situations unresolved. What’s more is that he turns major plot characters inside out as the series progresses (e.g. the Lord Ruler), and he does it in a way that makes complete sense. It gives you that satisfying feeling of puzzle pieces snapping into place after a long but subtle nagging thoughts in the back of your head.

I’m happy that my coworker recommended this series to me. Overall it was a highly entertaining read with excellent re-read value. I also have a new author to watch for in Brandon Sanderson. Given how prolific he is it looks like I’ll have quite the selection for the future.