Note: Given that the trilogy totals somewhere around 2000 pages (2130 plus appendices, but who’s counting?) I’m going to take on the series as a whole so apologies for the lack of specifics. – KD
Brandon Sanderson is a frakking genius. I started Mistborn with a looming sense of panic after being informed by a grad-student friend that that series does a couple of the things I was attempting with my current novel. I ended The Hero of Ages with an overwhelming sense of awe—because it was amazing—followed very quickly by crushing sense of despair because I will never be that good.
The first thing I noticed was that each book in the trilogy has its own internal arc. All too often I find that, with trilogies, character and plot development is one arc over all three books. The great thing about Mistborn was that each book has its own clear—and mostly complete—character arcs, making it feel like I’ve actually finished a book instead of being left on an annoying cliffhanger. That said, there were enough threads left dangling that I was immediately eager to pick up the next volume.
As a series the pacing is exquisite. I’ve been left cold by several books I’ve read lately because the endings didn’t feel long enough; it’s that feeling of “There’s 25 pages left. How is (s)he going to wrap all of this up?” Even though things keep happening right up until the very end of The Hero of Ages I never asked that question. There is a coming together of everything throughout book three that makes for a page-turning conclusion, which both felt like an end and still left me guessing until page 724.
And the books don’t just move—they fly. I never once felt like I was just waiting for something to happen. Something was always happening, and it was so masterfully interwoven with excellent character development that I didn’t mind those small character moments in between the craziness; they were beautiful counterpoints to the action which served to develop the characters and their relationships. Those relationships, by the way, are complex, intricate, and incredibly real.
That said, I think the best part of the trilogy is Sanderson’s subtlety. He plays around with the prophecy trope, wavering back and forth between is it coming true or not? Is so-and-so the hero or not? Is the prophecy’s purpose A or B? This vacillation is done so well and feels so organic that, when I finally finished book three, I didn’t care whether or not that prophecy was coming true. The ending was just as satisfying regardless, because all of the pieces fell into place. Scenes that I thought served one, maybe two purposes in the narrative, were actually serving at least three as little, insignificant pieces came back and rewove into a master narrative grander than anything I had imagined. You see, I’m one of those readers—the ones who can tell you how a book is going to end halfway through.
The ending to the Mistborn trilogy blew me away. In retrospect, all of the pieces were there, they were just so carefully hidden, layered under and into those relationship scenes and threaded into the plot so skillfully that I never once felt bashed over the head with a clue. I never guessed the ending, and I kicked myself later because that was really the only way it could have ended.
I’m out of space and I’ve said nothing about any of the characters (I’ve got a five-way tie going for my favourite between Spook, Vin, Kelsier, Sazed, and TenSoon) or how freaking cool the magic system is. Or how brilliant the plot twists are.
Read it. You won’t regret it. If you like epic fantasy at all, or are looking for something that pushes the genre in someway, this is something that you will truly enjoy.