Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mistborn. The Hero of Ages

Ready? Set… Action!

This movie catch phrase seems to work pretty well when it comes to describing fantasy trilogies. The first book, 'Ready?' is posed as a question to the reader; wondering if they have prepared themselves for reading three books to get one story; desperately wanting to incite the reader to pick up book two. 'Set,' is exactly as it sounds like it would be; endless drudgery where you are left wondering if anything happened from cover to cover. In terms of Brandon Sanderson, if you can make it through Ready and Set, he is phenomenal when it comes to action.


Things actually happened in this book, and it wasn't all fight scenes and sorcery though there are solid helpings of that. But with no more books left in the series every and anything that is going to happen had to happen in this book.

Sanderson's gift of intrigue is wonderful and constant. Even though things are coming to a close, he is always posing new questions and giving you new unforeseen issues to think about and try to figure out how to resolve. He does this right up till the end making you wonder, "Well, what happens next?" There are no plot hole or loose ends, merely suggestions that he offers the readers to keep their minds occupied in the world he has created after the ending. Many of these issues and wonderful points of interest didn't need two books worth of set up to feel important or be interesting...

All is not perfect in the land of Action however. There are a few convenient plot ideas that happened just to make things easy, but they are small sins and easily forgivable considering the rest of Sanderson's offering. Deities did things without explanation as to how as only they can; saving the day only a few times when writing a way out of a situation may have proven too arduous. A point that was easily noticeable, yet never truly bothersome, was that amid a cast of many characters only two ever managed to sound distinct: Sazed, and Breeze; and yes, I've already said my piece about those names…

Even when a previously negligible character finally becomes a star--if not the most interesting person in the whole series by way of his development and growth--he manages to morph into one of his companions in terms of voice, rather than become his own person. It could have been intentional, but I saw it as a missed opportunity.

For me, my consistent complaint of Sanderson's Mistborn is the lack of truly compelling characters. There were many that I liked, but no one that made me say, "That guy is awesome." There was nothing wrong with the cast, they were just a little blah… That married with the standard fantasy, save-the-world-from-destruction plot helped combine to never truly grab hold of me. However, this installment of Mistborn is not one that I want to harp on negatives.

When the Action! Starts, it doesn't stop. There were occasional lulls--including an odd one near the end--some eye rolling, derivative dialogue, but in the end this book is fun. In my mind it was easily the strongest of the series; which also seems to hold true to fantasy form. Readers of Sanderson's Elantris will recognize some surprises. Not that he employs similar plot ideas, rather the scale of the surprise when you think you have things figured out is a great deal of fun.

Looking over the series as a whole, I'm still not sure what happened in book two and why it couldn't have happened in book one or three. Sanderson is great working with plot, but I feel I'm a reader that is more interested in character driven stories. A few of his amazing situations had me reading with apathy as I didn't care about the people involved. The story is long, filed with ash and dust, but when the Mist finally clears, you'll say you had a good time.

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