Mistborn Read-Along, Week One

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.

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10 Comments

Filed under meme, Mistborn Read-Along, Read Along

10 responses to “Mistborn Read-Along, Week One

  1. I forgot about the mists – good point – with such a lot of superstition attached to them! Very interesting and I’m looking forward to reading on. I think you might be right about Kelsier and Vin and I think Vin may become much more involved than she could ever have envisaged. I’m looking forward to her coming out of her shell a little bit (I hope she does anyway),.probably like Carl said she’ll develop more as a character as her skills develop.
    Lynn 😀

  2. TBM

    Excellent point that the magic is limited in ways and that there are costs. It wasn’t until you articulated it, but I totally see it now. I’ll keep a closer eye on that. And I think you are right, there will have to be a closeness for Kelsier and Vin to pull this coup off.

    The mist is kinda cool, especially when everyone is scared of it and then Kelsier marches right into it and accomplishes his goals.

  3. One of the things that I like about Sanderson is that he creates magical systems that operate by certain rules. Magic is useful but not something that makes you completely invincible. I’m curious to learn more about Allomancy and the mysterious metal that’s like Kryptonite to the Lord Ruler.

  4. Sanderson has an essay on his website titled Sanderson’s First Law. The basic premise of it says “the character’s ability to use magic to solve problems is related to how well the reader understands the magic.”

    So basically, the magic has to have rules, otherwise you run into the deus ex machina where the magic can be used to do anything, which means there is no tension in the book. Rule based magic systems are really a hallmark of Sanderson’s writing, and he’s got quite a few good ones both in this series as well as in the rest of his books.

    • I like that the magic has rules and that not everyone is ‘all invincible’. I kind of hope that it doesn’t become the case that one of the characters becomes so awesome that they can kick everyone’s butt singlehandedly – it’s more worthwhile with a few restrictions and a team effort.
      Lynn 😀

  5. I like eating in novels as well. One of the earliest recollections of this is reading Dracula when I was around 11 or 12. Even after many re-readings over the years I never get tired of Jonathan Harker’s journal entries to his wife about what he been served to eat.

    I enjoy the fact that Sanderson builds his worlds without doing anything as info-dump. I think he has a remarkable skill in giving all kinds of details which may not always seem like much but add up to giving a really complete, dimensional picture of the place he has created.

    I am enjoying the fact that there are limitations on the magic as well. Reminds me a lot of the early writings of Jack Vance, where spells had to be memorized, could only be used once per memorization, and only so many could be carried. I enjoy the planning aspect that goes into that kind of magic system. Here you not only have to have certain abilities but have to have access to the elements needed to use/enhance those abilities. Very cool.

    I’m like you in that I’ve only experienced one other Sanderson novel, The Way of Kings. That novel was so mind-blowing for me, so engaging, that I couldn’t wait long before trying out more of Sanderson’s work. I’m enjoying this one very much to this point.

  6. nrlymrtl

    Totally agree with your comment about the magic system in this novel – it isn’t just a wand to wave around and get a person out of a tight corner.

    And i wouldn’t mind knowing how they keep the ash out of the food. Hopefully there are lots of natural springs to go with all the ashmounts.

  7. It is always refreshing when magic has some sort of restriction: I always think that the ‘point and click’ type of magic is a massively lazy way to write. Heck, even Harry Potter’s wand-based magic required study and practice! 🙂

  8. I also like the cost of the magic, how for every action there’s an opposite reaction, that sort of thing.

  9. I agree with your comparison with Kelsier and Locke. Although, I also found the comparison with their thieving groups…like family.

    I also appreciate that the magic does indeed have laws to follow and understand. This way, things cannot occur conveniently for plot advancement, or so I hope.

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