“There's always another secret.”
– Kelsier, The Final Empire
If you are a fan of the fantasy genre, chances are you have heard of Brandon Sanderson. However, most know him as the man who was called upon to finish Robert Jordan's epic series 'A Wheel of Time' after his untimely demise. While Sanderson did a great job finishing Jordan's work, his original works are what he should be best known for and remembered by.
Sanderson creates a world that is exciting and vibrant, playing with the tropes in the genre while being fresh and intriguing. While it is inspired from the classics of fantasy, it maintains its own pace which is a lot more upbeat than the typical fantasy epics. Sanderson also portrays the religions, the superstitions and fears of the general people and the noblemen alike. There is a good deal of philosophy and theology going around. And I kid you not, the action in this series is just brilliant. The story is amazing with clever twists and turns and always leaves you wanting more. This is a fantasy thriller if there ever was one.
The best part of the books has to be the magic system which is called allomancy. Allomancers can 'burn' various metals and exhibit powers which are based on a particular metal. The interesting thing about this is that there is always a reaction to an action. Super-strength for a limited time will leave the user tired, pulling on metals works the same way as it would with the laws of physics in place -- if you are lighter than the object you're pulling, you'll be pulled towards it. This results in all the action you could have dreamed of from your favourite super-hero movie multiplied ten times.
The Mistborn trilogy -- which includes 'The Final Empire', 'The Well of Ascension' and 'The Hero of Ages' -- features a fantasy world that is simple but thoroughly enjoyable. Welcome to the dark world of Sanderson with ashes falling from the skies with the general people (Skaa) too afraid to venture outside. Thousands of years of oppression by the Lord Ruler have left the Skaa unable to stand up for themselves. Enter Kelsier, the Survivor of Hathsin. He hatches the most daring plan to overthrow the Lord Ruler and give freedom to the Skaa. The story centres on Vin, a girl of sixteen. She finds out she is a Mistborn (an allomancer who can burn all metals), just like Kelsier and she agrees to help Kelsier overthrow the Lord Ruler -- not that anyone really believes they will succeed.
While all this makes for very fast-moving story, the downside is that the world is not as vast and detailed as LOTR or 'A Song of Ice and Fire'. There isn't enough politics, or enough sub-plots and the characters are rather straightforward. Sanderson's characters can be dark at times, but he intentionally avoids the dark-gritty style which is adopted by many of the fantasy writers today, George R. R. Martin foremost among them.
You can't review a whole series without giving away spoilers so I only touched on the plot of the first book. Once you finish the first book, you'll be hooked and you'll move on to the others without needing any encouragement. And if you ever feel the story is getting a little flat (which you might halfway through the second book) let me tell you this now: the ending is worth it.