Book Review: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

I was eager to dive into The Final Empire, the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, an epic tale of magic and revolution. Overall, I found The Final Empire to be an extremely enjoyable and engaging read that kept me hooked from start to finish.

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

TitleThe Final Empire
AuthorBrandon Sanderson
GenreFantasy, Fiction
Publication DateJuly 17, 2006
Length576 pages

Where to Purchase

Introduction to The Final Empire

The Final Empire takes place in a dystopian world ruled for a millennium by the Lord Ruler, a mysterious and seemingly all-powerful being who is worshipped as a living god. The nobility serve the Lord Ruler, while the peasant “skaa” class are heavily oppressed and forced into virtual slavery. The story follows a ragtag group of rebels seeking to overthrow the Lord Ruler’s empire and restore freedom.

Our main protagonist is Vin, a street-smart young woman who discovers she is Mistborn – meaning she can magically ingest and “burn” metals to enhance her abilities. She joins up with the roguish Kelsier and his crew of Mistings (people with a single metal-burning ability) on a dangerous heist and rebellion plot to bring down the Lord Ruler once and for all.

Thoughts on the Plot and Pacing

One of the standout aspects of The Final Empire for me was the intricate and well-crafted plot. Right from the gripping prologue, I was drawn into the complex web of heists, fight scenes, magic systems, and politics. The story moves along at a rapid pace, jumping between different characters and locales. I was impressed by how So many moving narrative pieces fit together so seamlessly.

There’s always another secret to uncover, twist to navigate, or goal to accomplish. Sanderson excels at layering his stories with mysteries that slowly unravel over time. I was constantly trying to figure out characters’ motivations and make sense of the bigger picture. The magic system also adds a unique angle, with detailed rules that allow for innovative action sequences.

Overall, the plotting feels masterfully done, keeping tension high without dragging or confusing the reader. I breezed through the 500+ pages eagerly awaiting each new reveal.

Thoughts on World-Building and Magic System

Another highlight for me was the incredibly detailed and realized world Sanderson has created. The Final Empire is set in a bleak, ash-covered dystopian world with a intricate history dating back thousands of years. Sanderson does an amazing job of slowly doling out details about how the empire formed, the consequences of the Lord Ruler’s reign, and the complexities of the class system. I felt fully immersed in the setting and caught up in the plight of the skaa underclass.

The intricate magic system also captivated me, with precise rules governing the different types of abilities. It’s not just random hand-waving – consuming specific metals produces specific effects. There’s always a cost or consequence to using your powers, leading to thoughtful magic battles. I loved seeing Vin and Kelsier experiment with combining metals and pushes and pulls of allomancy. It was akin to watching a brilliant chess match unfold. The magic feels creatively forged and adds wonder and surprise to the grimdark world.

Thoughts on Characters

While the plot and world are engaging on their own, the characters really bring everything together in a compelling way. Vin is a great protagonist – starting off wary from a life on the streets, she gradually gains confidence in her own strength and role in the rebellion. Her character arc was very satisfying to follow. I also connected with Kelsier’s roguish charm and noble intentions. Even the antagonists like the Inquisitors and nobility were complex, rather than one-dimensional evil overlords.

My only critique would be that outside of Vin, Kelsier, and a handful of supporting roles, many of the characters blend together. However, this is partly inevitable given the sheer scope of the story. Overall, I felt invested in the fates of the protagonists and cared about the enemy being defeated.

Final Thoughts

The Final Empire was one of the most entertaining fantasy reads I’ve had in a long time. Brandon Sanderson has crafted an intricate and masterful adventure full of politics, magic, lovable rogues, and high stakes. The complex world and magic system kept me fascinated, while the plotting and pacing kept me rapidly turning pages. While I wished some secondary characters were more fleshed out, the protagonists and storylines remained compelling throughout. I finished the book eager to see where the story and characters will go next. I would highly recommend The Final Empire to any fantasy fan. Brandon Sanderson has become one of my new favorite authors and I can’t wait to continue the Mistborn trilogy!


  • Paula Davis

    Paula Davis is a dedicated and seasoned content writer for Dreaming and Reading, where she brings her extensive knowledge and passion for literature to a wide audience of fellow book enthusiasts. With the heart of a true bookworm, Paula has immersed herself in the literary world, devouring approximately 50 books annually for the last 15 years. This impressive reading habit has not only provided her with immense joy but has also significantly honed her expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in the realm of book reviews. Her insightful and well-crafted reviews reflect her deep understanding and appreciation of various genres, offering valuable guidance to readers in search of their next great read. With a finger always on the pulse of the latest literary releases, Paula Davis is a trusted voice and a go-to source for book recommendations and reviews.

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