Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Read Along of Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson: Part 1

The Read Along is being hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. You can read find his answer to this week's questions here.

We read up to the end of Chapter 6.

1.  This first hundred or so pages was packed!  What things are standing out for you in the story thus far?

For the first twenty pages or so I found the rush of new concepts a little overwhelming, but once we arrived in the city the pace became more manageable. At this stage I am awash with questions. How is the Lord Ruler immortal and how does he gift the nobles with the magical abilities? Why is there ash falling all the time? What caused the skaa to be enslaved and are they a different species, or just a different caste / class? What / who are the kollossi? How are the Inquisitors alive, let alone super-efficient killing machines? Is there really something dangerous in the mist?

But, despite all of these questions, the thing that has stood out the most is the system of magic that has been revealed: I don’t think I’ve ever read anything even vaguely similar.

2.  What are your thoughts on the magic system that Sanderson is unveiling in this novel?

The allomancy is an amazing creation. I particularly liked the idea that Vin, and other allomancers, could derive enough metal from their food and water to be functional. Of course, it doesn’t sit well with my chemistry training: I can see how the elemental metals could be absorbed in this way, but not the alloys. Anyway, this is fantasy, so I’m trying not to think about these things too closely.

Kelsier’s use of magic to infiltrate the nobleman’s keep was jaw dropping in its intricate description of his skills. Wow!

3.  Kelsier and Vin have held most of the spotlight in these first 6 chapters.  As you compare/contrast the two characters, how do you feel about them? Likes? Dislikes?

At the moment Kelsier seems to be the typical fantasy hero: lowly beginnings, murdered wife, superhuman powers, Robin Hood complex, amazingly nice, etc. Although I like him, I am hoping that he gets a bit more three-dimensional. Vin is a little more rounded at the moment, and I am really pleased that she hasn’t spontaneously started trusting people: I hate it when authors make characters drop sensible personality traits as soon as they meet the hero.

4.  Finally, how would you assess Sanderson's storytelling abilities to this point?

This is a difficult question to answer. As I said above, I felt really swamped at first. For some reason I began to lose track of the characters and their names, which is not something I usually have trouble with. There were too many new concepts introduced too quickly and it took me a while to adjust. I am also not a fan of introducing a POV character in the Prologue only to murder them a few pages earlier. Finally, I am not sure why we began by following Kelsier, as he is obviously not the main protagonist: from the cover, I have to assume that it is Vin. 


  1. I kind of see it as a dual protagonist type of story, with the focus being on Kelsier and Vin.  We see more of Vin's backstory than Kelsier now, but I think that whatever happened to Kelsier before will have a lot of implications later on.

  2. I have to assume that the physical properties of this world (like the chemistry) simply doesn't function the same way as in our world, since so many other things are completely different. Steel Inquisitors...

    Interestingly, when I first read this one, I listened to it on audio, and so nothing felt rushed or too much information right away. I was able to absorb slowly. But I do agree about Vin - she felt like the true hero right away for me. And Kelsier, while I came to like him, started by feeling very caricatured and heavy-handed.

  3. Ah, all those great questions. :D

    And I always feel that way (a little overwhelmed) when starting a Sanderson novel. He's got so many ideas he has to cram into each page! It gets easier.

  4. Having all those questions is part of what I think makes reading a Sanderson book so intriguing.  The last one I read there were questions that weren't answered until nearly the end of 1200 pages, and I was so engrossed the whole time.  It is going to be fun to be led along with the more mysterious, unanswered stuff as the story unfolds and as we see where he takes us. 

    I haven't read anything very similar to this allomancy either.  There is a similarity in the concept of a limited magic system in the work of Jack Vance, but this has its own unique (from my limited reading) spin and I think it is a great idea.  Can't wait to see how it affects the various characters who practice it.

    I suspect Vin will not quickly begin trusting anyone, although I also hope that he suspicion and lack of trust doesn't get to a point that it drags on the story.  If she makes a change I want it to be believable, just not agonizingly slow.  

  5. I'm glad it wasn't just me then: I was beginning to worry! :)

  6. It isn't that Kel in not likable, he is just too perfect and heroic at this stage: a few flaws would round his character out nicely.

  7. I want to know what happened to him in the mines and how that triggered his allomancy abilities: could all the skaa be latent magic-users??? So many questions! :D

  8. I like the fact that I have so many questions: if I didn't the book would be very dull!

    After the jaw-dropping assault on the house I can't wait to see more of the allomancy in use: magic isn't usually this cool, is it?

    I think that Vin's lack of trust seems slow to us now because we are so used to the usual 'hero turns up and everybody automatically loves him', which is why I like the fact that she isn't doing that and acting out of character.

  9.  I completely agree, I like a more authentic character arc.  I'm just hoping I'm still not reading about her distrust near the end of Book 3 unless Sanderson has a very good reason for it all.

  10. Already in the next section of reading I feel like a lot of blanks are being filled in. I don't think we'll be left in the dark for long on a lot of these things -- except maybe the true nature of the Lord Ruler. And Sanderson actually addresses the regular ingestion of trace levels of alloy like two chapters after these so it will make the chemist part of your brain happier. :)

  11. To be honest, when I first began I thought I might struggle a bit as well - but that feeling probably only lasted about 4 pages - but, during those first few pages I kept rereading the same paragraphs, for some reason I wasn't really taking anything on board and so I put it down and began again from the beginning on a different day!
    I do like Kelsier - I suppose he is the lovable rogue but he feels like a hero as well!  I agree, I'm glad that Vin hasn't just instantly dropped all her mistrust and isn't making gooey eyes at Kelsier.
    Lynn :D

  12. That's good: anything that makes my brain happier is always welcome! :D


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