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The Quilty Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

Part I: The Survivor of Hathsin

Mistborn: The Final Empire - Brandon Sanderson

As I previously warned, these posts will contain spoilers, and will give away plot points. Please do not read without being aware of this. This process is intended to enable me to better understand Mistborn as I re-read it, so I'm not going to shy away from spoilers.


In light of that, I am going to put all of the details in these posts after a page break. Sorry for the inconvenience, but I don't want anyone to stumble onto spoilers by accident!


This chapter was previously my first experience with Sanderson's Cosmere universe. I don't want to go into a lot of detail here, but Cosmere represents the fictional universe where Sanderson's adult epic fantasy novels occur & does not include Earth. I'm not going to go into the backstory, but if you are interested, there is a nice post on Tor, here, that will give you some helpful information.


I have not read any of Sanderson's other adult works - I own the first two books from his Stormlight Archive, but haven't started them because they are long, and that series is predicted to be really long, so I'm holding off. I haven't read Elantris or Warbreaker, although that is also part of my long-term plan.


So, back to The Survivor of Hathsin.


One of the interesting aspects to reading a piece of epic fantasy is the feeling of blindness walking into the book. Unlike realistic fiction, where we are tethered to a world that we know and understand, anything can (and often does) happen in fantasy, so normal guideposts aren't entirely helpful in making our way through the story.


I am fascinated by Sanderson's selection of the title for the first book in the Mistborn trilogy - The Final Empire - which sounds like the end of a story, not the beginning. And, as I will discuss in the post related to the Part V, there are aspects of The Final Empire that really are more consistent with an ending than a beginning, and Sanderson turns some of the fantasy tropes on their heads when he ends this particular installment.


Part I also introduces the reader to allomancy, which is one of the three magic systems being used on Scadriel, the planet which is the setting for Mistborn, and which involves the burning of fuel (metals) in order to achieve magic. Different metals and alloys have different powers, and most allmancers can only burn one metal and access one power. The "Mistborn," however, are able to burn all metals and access all powers.


Allomancy quick reference chart:



All of these powers are introduced in this section.


The survivor of Hathsin is Kelsier, a mistborn who is actively fomenting revolution against the Lord Ruler, also known as the Sliver of Infinity, with pretensions to godhood. The world itself has distinct feudal overtones, with slaves known as the skaa, who are property, and are subject to being murdered without repercussion, and nobles, who own the skaa and swear fealty to the Lord Ruler. In an effort to prevent misting powers being distributed down to the skaa, slaves who are sexually used by the nobles must be killed once the noble tires of the skaa. This doesn't prevent some interbreeding from occurring, and both Kelsier and Vin are mistborn who came from skaa stock.


So, this first section is primarily concerned with introducing the world and the characters. We meet Sazed, a Terrisman who ends up being one of my favorite characters in the trilogy (more on him later). This first section doesn't discuss any of the religious aspects of Scadriel, being more concerned with economics and politics. There are brief mentions of the koloss, without much in the way of explanation, another race of creatures. 


The section where Vin begins to learn about her misting powers is a lot of fun to read. Kelsier is arrogant and foolhardy & Vin is wary and self-contained. And everyone is in danger.