Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mistborn Read-Along: Prologue through Chapter 6

the paperback cover
Today is the first posting day for the Mistborn: The Final Empire read-along, hosted by Carl. I didn't really have free reading time but I've been wanting to try another of Brandon Sanderson's novels after really liking Warbreaker a couple of years back. So, here I am and, I have to say that this book is off to a good start! We read the Prologue (an unnumbered first chapter) and then six more chapters -- about 115 pages. Carl wrote the questions for this week and I think they cover most of my thoughts about the reading so I'll just answer them --

Please note that this post may contain spoilers.

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

What stands out most are the descriptions of the major city, Luthadel. I can picture it perfectly from the towering, metal-roofed houses of the nobility to the three-story wooden abodes of the skaa. Strangely, though, I don't have much of a mental picture of the main characters of the story. There just aren't many personal descriptions except for clothing. I'm not sure if there's anything physical at all that separates the skaa from the nobility or if they are just recognized by their dirtiness, simpler attire and general defeated demeanor. Are they two classes or are they slightly different species? They can obviously interbreed so I'm leaning toward classes but it hasn't been specifically said. The other thing to stand out is that there are some terrifying baddies in this novel (like the as-yet-unrevealed koloss) and I'm sure there will be some points where I'll be reading with all of the lights on!

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

I think allomancy is really inventive and I like the way that it's slowly explained and reinforced for the reader. There's never a "copper is for x, zinc is for y, tin is for z" list -- which wouldn't have stuck with me at all. Instead, we start with a couple of metals, find out what powers they imbue by "seeing" them used and then move on to a few more in a later scene. It's really well done, especially describing how Kelsier moves between metal objects. I hope we find out more about the physiological basis behind the ability to use metals. Right now it's just "the Lord Ruler gave some people this power" but I'm guessing that's just the legend and it's more than that. The Steel Inquisitors are creepy and I hope we find out more about why they can sense allomancy.

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 can't help but really like Kelsier. A hero who smiles constantly in a world full of grim faces is bound to win hearts. And the fact that he smiles in the face of the loss of his wife years before shows he's either enlightened or crazy. I'll be waiting to find out which one! Vin is a much more obvious product of her environment and it's easy to see her motives (because we keep reading her internal dialogue). I'm not sure about her because, since she's been raised to be untrusting, I'm worried that she will betray Kelsier or others in their group. It will be interesting to see how she progresses as a character when she's taken out of her thieves' den and becomes a "noblewoman".

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

I think that one thing that Sanderson excels at is grabbing your attention right from the first pages of his books. Even in the middle of the prologue, I had to know what was going to happen going forward. Also, Sanderson uses a lot of "fantasy speak" but somehow it's not as daunting and confusing as in other high fantasy novels. He picks names and words that still sound sort of familiar somehow. I'm really looking forward to moving on in this story and, presumably, the entire series!

Burning carbs, not copper,


  1. I get the impression that they're two different classes, mostly because Kelsier's crowd can impersonate nobility and get away with it. That being said, it makes me wonder why the nobility can use Allomancy but the skaa can't.

  2. I like the baddies! Especially the Steel Inquisitors. The idea reminds me of the second game in the Thief trilogy, which is one of my favorite pc game series ever.

    I hadn't thought about it until you mentioned it, but I don't really have any mental image of what the characters look like either. I'm going to have to pay more attention to see if we get more details as we go along.

    I would imagine Kelsier is a bit of both, enlightened and crazy. At least crazy in the sense that he is willing to take risks, some calculated and others, like rescuing the girl early in the book, that are spur of the moment.

    I agree with you on Sanderson's writing style. It is very accessible and yet in no way feels "dumbed down". His is high fantasy that feels contemporary and yet feels like authentic fantasy at the same time.

  3. I will be interested to learn why the nobility can use magic and Skaa can't - I almost wondered if the Skaa were just told they couldn't use magic and simply chose to believe that and Vin didn't seem to realise she was using magic. But I doubt it will be that simple though and both Vin and Kelsier seem to have mixed parentage which is where they've inherited the ability from.
    Those Inquisitors are well creepy.
    Lynn :D

  4. Baddies! I love a good baddie. How about that dude witht he metal spikes thru his head? Do you think the headache goes away once training is complete?

    And I am eager to see what the koloss are and what they can do.

  5. It does seem strange, but you are right: we don't have good descriptions of these people. Apart from Kel's scars, I don't think we've had much physical description for anyone. How come I didn't notice that? :D

  6. Bookswithout - I thought about it more today and think class too because it's not capitalized (Skaa). Maybe it's more like "serfs". And I definitely want to know more of the rules of allomancy.

    Carl - The baddies are certainly bad in this one! I was smiling after the fire scene in the prologue because that guy sure deserved retribution. And I agree with your assessment of Kelsier. It will be interesting to see if it's his downfall or if it's what makes him triumph.

    Lynn - Yes, the mixed parentage thing is really interesting. Whether it turns out to be the key to their powers or if it's something else will probably be a significant plot point.

    Nrlymrtl - I'm sure the koloss will give me nightmares. ;)

    Sue - I'm glad I'm not the only one feeling that way! Carl agrees as well so at least I know it's not that I'm not paying attention. Besides people being fat or dirty, we don't get much about their physical appearance.

  7. Interestingly, I liked Vin from the moment I met her. I guess I could relate to her paranoia and way of seeing things. I was very, very unsure of Kelsier, though. He seemed dangerous and unpredictable. Slowly, though, I began to like both of them a lot.

    I didn't even realize the koloss were mentioned in the first book. They play a really huge role in the second book. I really need to go back and reread the first one!!!