I just finished reading Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn. I picked up this book because this writer is the man who will be taking over for the late Robert Jordan. Those are big shoes to fill and I was curious to see how this writer would fill them.

Mistborn is a pretty good book but not particularly noteworthy, in my opinion. It was enjoyable to read but the basic premise wasn't as exciting as it could have been. In a nutshell, you've got slaves, an immortal god/ruler, nobles who can perform magic, and renegade slaves who can also perform magic. Naturally you expect that some of the renegades will work to subvert the government and the Lord Ruler's rule, and they do.

The book follows several of the typical fantasy theme: young misfit who, it turns out, has latent magical ability (and is really strong at it), a band of renegades with witty banter, cheesy accents/dialects for some characters, and unsurmountable odds for the heroes of the story.

The book had the feel of a first novel, written when the author may not get around to writing the rest of the series (it's a trilogy). I don't want to give away the ending but things happen very quickly at the end and a lot gets wrapped up almost too easily. Nevertheless the story was fun to read.

What struck me the most about this story is its potential as a video game. Potential spoilers follow. The way the magic is structured is that there are several magical abilities, and most people have no magic, but some people have one ability and a rare few have all the abilities. These abilities require the consumption of various kinds of metals which are "burned" and thus used up. Burning metal uses it up, and burning it harder gives more effect but uses it up faster. Also, two of the magical abilities lend themselves to interesting opportunities for a videogame; the magic users can use nearby metal objects as anchors to push themselves or pull themselves around. For example, if there is a coin on the floor they can stand above it then push themselves up to the ceiling. This leads to very well-defined but complex physics which could be awesome in a video game. Even the way the charaacters in the book are organized leads to good opportunities for a player to fight increasingly difficult "bosses". The beauty of this magical system, as opposed to those of other fantasy realms (like Tolkein's or Jordan's) is that the magic has very clear boundaries and rules and thus you can easily model it in a video game.

In the end, I recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy; it's not groundbreaking but it was entertaining. I will definitely read the rest of the trilogy (I'm a sucker for finding out what happens... I've been slogging through every stupid Terry Goodkind book for years now) but I don't regret picking up the first book. I have reservations about how well Mr. Sanderson will handle the Wheel of Time but since that story is mostly written I don't think there will be a major problem.

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