During the recent Lies of Locke Lamora Read-Along, I stumbled across a read-along for Brian Sanderson’s Mistborn: The Last Empire. Like Locke Lamora, Mistborn has been languishing on my TBR shelf for a while now and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to read it and enjoy some conversation and insights with fellow readers.
So, here’s the first week’s set of questions, that covers the first six chapter in the book.
This week’s questions come from Carl at Stainless Steel Geeks.
1. This first hundred or so pages was packed! What things are standing out for you in the story thus far?
World-building, world-building, world-building. A lot of heavy lifting in the early parts of the story to establish this world, the fear of the mists, the magical system and the ash that seems to fall on everything and is everywhere. One line in the novel really showed just how pervasive the ash is, when Vin reflects that a certain room has to be swept clean daily because there’s no ash in the corners. It really drives home just how incredibly thick and a part of the world this ash is. And maybe it’s just that I enjoy a good meal, but I noticed that Sanderson includes details on food being consumed. As I’ve said for other fantasy novels, one of the basic things that everyone can relate to is eating and I really like it when an author gives us details on this. I don’t want a recipe for how to make whatever food is being presented, per se, but I do like that details that are inserted because they help me to enter into the fantasy world and make it all a bit more authentic.
2. What are your thoughts on the magic system that Sanderson is unveiling in this novel?
I’ve also read Sanderson’s Warbreaker and I’m noticing some similarities between the magic system described and used in that novel and the one that is being put into place for Mistborn. Namely that both magic systems have a set of rules, consequences and limitations on them. There are costs to the user for using the magic and the magical system isn’t so powerful that it can be used as a a deus ex machina to get the writer out of a corner with (pun partially intended) a wave of the magic wand. In Mistborn, I really like while there is a broader magic system, not everyone can tap into the entire magic system. Certain people can use it in one way and others have strengths in other aspects of the system.
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?
I may be reading a lot into things, but I have a feeling these two are going to need each other in a significant way before the end of the novel. Vin seems like the naive one, who isn’t aware of the true extent of her abilities. Or it could be that since she’s a woman, she has had less value placed on her by the society Sanderson has created within the novel. And having just finished Locke Lamora, I have to admit that in the first few pages, Kelsier reminds me a bit of Locke, though probably a lot less jaded and cynical (at least so far!)
4. Finally, how would you assess Sanderson’s storytelling abilities to this point?
Again, this is my second dabbling with Sanderson. I was impressed enough with what he did with Warbreaker to want to read more of his output. As I said before, the thing I like most is that we have a limited magical system that isn’t going to be the way out of any difficulty that is thrown at our heroes. There is magic, but there’s a cost associated with using it. That alone intrigues me enough to want to continue exploring this world.