This is the third and final book in the Mistborn trilogy featuring Elend and Vin. This ‘review’ will be more based on the whole series and because it is the final book it will contain spoilers.
As I said in my review for the second book: If you haven’t read even the first Mistborn book, or worse you haven’t read anything by Brandon Sanderson then you must drop everything and go read The Final Empire IMMEDIATELY!
Are you reading me? Just put that book down and get down your local bookshop and get this trilogy. NOW! Well, what are you waiting for!?
Saying that, I now do not know where to start. How to I write this review or get my thoughts (frazzled from lack of sleep) into some comprehensible order?
I read the first book last year and although I enjoyed it, did not quite feel it was up to the adulation I’d seen the trilogy receive. I’d already read a Sanderson, I knew I liked him as an author but at the time I preferred Elantris and did not think Mistborn could beat it. Then in December last year I finally picked up the second book and then it all just clicked. I fell wholly and absolutely in love. I couldn’t put it down, I didn’t want to put it down. The third book is even better than the second.
Brandon Sanderson has an ability to lead you by the nose. The first book set up the second and the second set up the third perfectly. Each page just leads you on, each line of the story is part of the thread that draws you through the rest of the series. It all cumulates so perfectly at the very end, in a way that is surprising but so completely and absolutely rewarding. Each part is perfectly timed, perfectly planned and perfectly executed.
In the beginning you meet Vin as a distrustful street urchin. Elend as a geeky nobleman buried in books and talking philosophy. Kelsier is a troubled man with an impossible mission. His crew are to begin with a bunch of thieves from the skaa underworld who have little expectation as to what’s to come.
Kelsier dies a hero and becomes immortalised as a God. Religion and belief form a much more significant part of this series than I first thought after reading the first. By the third book, the building of this belief, the idea of faith and Gods and history melding into a whole becomes an important theme that comes to its full realisation by the end.
Vin and Elend, Sazed, Kelsier, Spook, Breeze, TenSoon – they all become part of a history that changed the whole world. Literally. In ways perhaps that none of them even realised at the time. They become part of religion, history and legend.
Thinking of these characters, the paths they travelled to make them the people they became, makes my heart ache. I feel so proud of them, so inspired and so awed.
One of my favourites is TenSoon, the kandra who I for some reason feel such a connection with. I loved how in book two he went from hating humans, to learning to love them – or at least Vin through which he learnt to respect the others. Each character changes and grows, but something endears my heart to TenSoon, perhaps because of Vin’s growing respect and friendship with the thing she once hated.
In the third book he appears as Kelsier to the people of Luthedal and instructs them to leave the city and go to the caverns. Effectively saving many thousands of lives. But no one knows it is him. It will go down in history, people will believe that Kelsier really returned like a God but all the time it was a kandra.
He travels hundreds of miles, trying to find Vin, he rebels against his own people and fights for his beliefs. He puts his whole trust in Vin. It saddens me she never got to see him again but it saddens me more that TenSoon effectively died by giving up the Blessing of Potency.
There is a theme of sacrifice that runs through the stories. Vin’s sacrifice of Elend at the end of book two. Elend sacrificed himself, along with the many others at the end of the third book. Vin also sacrificed her life. Preservation sacrificed itself to imprison Ruin. Spook ran into the flames, intending to sacrifice himself to save the city Urteau although at the end he was restored. Kelsier’s sacrifice in book one. TenSoon and the other Kandra’s sacrifice of their consciousness for the greater good.
Sazed struggles with his faith, or lack of it throughout the entire book as he tries to find a God or a religion worthy of believing in. He spurns leadership, letting others take the helm. In the end though, he becomes the Hero. He becomes a God after Vin defeats Ruin and returns the balance to the world. He restores the world to how it should have been – the people come out from the underground caverns to a new world. It is a symbolic form of re-birth. A new God, a new world and faith restored to a world devoid of religion. People had to sacrifice themselves to get there, but due to these acts the world was able to be restored.
I’m not entirely sure how this makes me feel. The religious theme becomes so much stronger and more realised throughout this book. It becomes almost the centre point. I am an atheist, the idea that a world without religion is a bad one doesn’t really compute with me. Yet the message in Mistborn is that the Lord Ruler tried to stamp out religion, replacing God with himself – and only when a true God returned to restore the balance of supernatural power, did the world become right again.
However, thinking more on it – it is not religion which the important factor here – it is the idea of trust and of faith in what you believe in. It is not about Gods, but about the people around you and having faith in them. Vin had to learn to trust people and in doing so, she came to love them.
Through sacrifice and faith the war with Ruin was won. This is not just something confined to religions. The idea that you have to sacrifice something or have faith in someone applies to all people and society.
Here is a quote, spoken by Sazed in the second book which to me, strikes a chord:“Oh child. When will you stop worrying and simply let yourself be loved?”
Vin shook her head. “It’s not that easy.”
“Few things are. Yet, I tell you this, Lady Vin. Love must be allowed to flow both ways—if it is not, it is not truly love, I think. It is something else. Infatuation, perhaps? Either way, there are some of us that are far too quick to make martyrs of ourselves. We stand at the side, watching, thinking that we do the right thing by inaction. We fear pain—our own, or that of another.”
He squeezed her shoulder. “But…is that love? Is it love to assume for Elend that he has no place with you? Or, is it love to let him make his own decision in the matter?”
“And if I’m wrong for him,” Vin asked?
“You must love him enough to trust his wishes, even if you disagree with them. You must respect him—no matter how wrong you think he may be, no matter how poor you think his decisions, you must respect his desire to make them. Even if one of them includes loving you.”
I absolutely love Sanderson’s message here about trust. Trust requires faith, because without it there will be none. If you cannot trust someone to love you, how can you love them truly in return?
Sanderson’s morals and his beliefs resonate with me. Maybe this is why I love Mistborn so much. There seems to be such a strong pillar of truth within these books, holding everything up with an invisible strength that other authors may not be able to achieve.
The ending left me feeling desolate. My heart felt almost physical pain. I also experienced joy and happiness at the end, wonder and thankfulness. But at the same time I felt like a million sharp needles were piercing my chest. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to finish this, barely able to do anything other then read.
This is what reading and the love of books is about. When a book becomes part of yourself and your emotions, your feelings. When the characters are people who will remain with you always.