One thing that I adore about going on holiday is the complete isolation from technology – which, I’ll admit, I sometimes love but sometimes don’t. For the past 10 days I’ve been lucky enough to be in France with my parents sunbathing and, more importantly, reading. 5 books later, I’m here to tell you about one of them that stood out and I don’t feel has had enough recognition.
It’s not often that I come across a book which reminds me why I love reading so much and also makes me want to write something in the hopes that it will be as great as this one. Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.
Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy trilogy overturns the expectations of readers and then goes on to tell the epic story of evil overturned in a richly imagined world.
A thousand years ago evil came to the land and has ruled with an iron hand ever since. The sun shines fitfully under clouds of ash that float down endlessly from the constant eruption of volcanoes. A dark lord rules through the aristocratic families and ordinary folk are condemned to lives in servitude, sold as goods, labouring in the ash fields.
But now a troublemaker has arrived and there is rumour of revolt. A revolt that depends on criminal that no-one can trust and a young girl who must master Allomancy – the magic that lies in all metals.
I know, I know, yet another fantasy but bear with me, you won’t regret it. At least, I hope you won’t.
The blurb on the back of the book gives away a lot less than the one above does – which I found on Amazon for those of you who are curious, though I don’t see why you would be – and the main message is ‘What if the dark lord won?’. That was the line that got my attention.
Sanderson creates this world that feels almost apocalyptic in nature, with ash constantly falling from the sky and the thought of a blue sky being ridiculous. You’re introduced to a clear divide between the noblemen, who are said to have sided with this novel’s own dark lord, the Lord Ruler, and the Skaa, the people who have essentially been forced into slavery and poverty.
However, there are whispers of rebellion by a particularly charming troublemaker who enlists the help of a mismatched group of friends and a Skaa thief, who is worth a lot more than you might first think.
Upon starting this book, I basically knew nothing. It came up as a recommendation for me and a particular book reviewer I like mentioned it as one of her favourite fantasy reads. How could I resist? I’ll have to admit, though, that I read this as quickly as I anticipated. The first part of the novel focuses on introducing you to the setting, characters and several story lines (along with some seriously fantastical elements). As I had no clue where it was all going, I could appreciate that it was well written and imaginative but it didn’t grip me.
I was so unprepared for part two.
Oh my goody gumdrops did that take off. The book is separated into several different parts, and I think it’s just so you can take a breather. The action scenes are so fast paced and exciting that I was literally on the edge of my seat, biting my fingernails, desperate to see what would happen. So many twists and turns, surprises around every corner, to the point that if someone tried to talk to me I had to shoo them away because I seriously did not have time for any interruptions. Part One may have taken me a while to get through, but once I hit that first action scene? Jeez, I read as fast as I could turn pages.
I’m forcing myself to stay away from spoilers, but I still want to give you some ideas as to what you might find within this fantastic book. First of all there’s a great development within a young female character, and as you read on you feel some serious awesome vibes from her.
The ‘magic’ within the novel, called Allomancy, had me confused at it’s first demonstration but, once it was explained later on all I could think was wow, that’s clever. Serious respect for Brandon Sanderson at this point, and I’m ordering the sequels as I write. I’ve always been curious as to what would happen if the ‘bad side’ won, and to see this idea as to what could happen was just brilliant to read.
It should come as no surprise, then, that I absolutely recommend this book without hesitation to anyone interested in fantasy whatsoever. It’s just so clever and good and the twists had me screaming, crying, or just holding up my hands to scream ‘WHY?!’. Basically, you should go read it.