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E25 | Books | Mistborn: FE, Book Breakdown

Cover image credit: Miranda Meeks - Check out her website for some incredible artwork!

Ash fell from the sky... what a chilling opening to Mistborn: The Final Empire. This book is full of exciting fight scenes, political intrigue, and one of the coolest magic systems out there! We loved talking about this incredible story, but before we get to dive into our breakdown of this book we talk about what we are sipping on and what we have been reading recently!


What's on our Flight (01:06)

  • Dalton’s drinking: Moo Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout by Terrapin Brewing Co. ABV 6%, IBU 30, this midnight black stout is full of dark roasted malty flavors with chocolate backing it up. Thick on the tongue and smooth going down. Stouts are one of my favorites and are perfect for a cold night talking about one of our favorite books! 3 cheers.

  • Nelson's drinking: Rabbit Hole's Boxergrail Straight Rye Whiskey. Aged 3 years, this spirit is 95% rye in the mash (remainder barley) so it is a rye-lover's rye throughout. Very smooth for 95 proof with slight hints of chocolate and orange peel in the finish. 2 cheers, mostly for the price point ($45).


What's On Our Minds (10:06)


  • Finished Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Tomi Adeyemi). It felt like the second book of a sequel, mostly because it was. Overall good, but I suggest waiting for the 3rd book (due 2021) before reading.

  • Attack on Titan final season is airing and is absolutely holding up to expectations. We are very much enjoying discussing it!


  • The High Republic: Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule, an actual physical book!! This is the first of several planned books following the Jedi a couple centuries before the events of The Phantom Menace. It is very enjoyable, if a bit hard to follow with all the new names and shifting perspectives.


The icebreaker question for this episode was submitted by m_cirocco! (22:33)

Do you believe that turning books in to movies / TV shows helps or hurts stories?

This is an excellent question! There are stories of both extreme success and utter failures. The first advantage is a movie or show will bring massive exposure to the story. Generally a TV show has more room to fully tell the story, though there are exceptions to this rule (LotR, Harry Potter, as examples). Media adaptations also have the advantage of adding a face to the characters (making more complicated stories easier to tell) and music, helping the viewer feel the emotions of impactful scenes. It is much simpler, however, to show internal monologues of characters in a book, which can help readers connect more fully with a character. This is a major reason why Ender's Game was such a huge failure as a movie. Overall, we feel like media adaptations, specifically TV shows, have the opportunity for greater resources and success in telling the story but have the danger of failing expectations that a book sets.

Thank you so much for the question! If you are looking for us to answer a question, submit your question here.


Discussion starts at 32:02 in the episode

Story Arc

Sanderson is masterful with story arc, and Mistborn: The Final Empire is no exception. The story hooks you from the beginning and uses tension to keep the story moving all the way to the climax. The climax is VERY different than expected! Who would have guessed the final boss, the god-king, basically Sauron himself, would be defeated at the end of the first book?! We hope that leads you to read the rest of the series, because the actual climax of the series will certainly surprise you!

Magic System

Sanderson is the king of hard magic and the originator of the concept (at least for naming it as such), so it is no surprise that Mistborn follows that path. In fact, it could be considered the flagship of Sanderson's work in hard magic and would certainly be our recommendation for an introduction to the technique. The use of mistings to tutor Vin, along with Kelsier as a master mistborn allows Sanderson to introduce the magic system to the reader without sounding like a textbook. This is done especially well in the scene where Kelsier invades Keep Venture, showing his power as a fully realized mistborn.

Heroes and Villains

The heroes of the story focus on those characters whose perspectives we experience the story from - Kelsier, Vin, and Elend. All three are extremely well developed characters with interesting flaws despite their obvious strengths and power. Past that, Sazed and Marsh offer very interesting heroes. Sazed is a model for guardianship and mentorship in his relationship with Vin. Marsh makes extreme sacrifices of himself for the mission, arguably more than any other character, including Kelsier. We always enjoy the depth in characters that Sanderson brings to his novels.

The villain of the story is primarily The Final Empire as a society. The Lord Ruler is symbolic of his empire and acts as the final climax but is actually fairly absent for the majority of the story. The reader learns about him through the journals, but as we find out, we have learned far less than we think about Rashek by the end of the book. Overall, both he and the inquisitors play a generally monstrous and threatening role for the heroes to avoid or overcome, with the main antagonistic force facing the heroes being the established society which they seek to overthrow.

World Building

Sanderson's strongest skill as an author is world building, and Mistborn is no exception. It is a true accomplishment in subtle and impactful world building. It starts with Kelsier visiting the plantation Skaa, already setting the groundwork for the oppression and hardship faced by the Skaa as well as the mysticism and power surrounding Kelsier. The mist functions as a simple but incredibly effective tool for drawing the reader in to the setting, representing in a physical sense the themes of oppression and mystery (pun intended) that saturate the story. Terms such as "Kandra" and "Mistwraith" are introduced without explanation to pique the interest of the reader and then addressed later. Trust us, Sanderson is very good at closing the loop on these topics, which is another reason we highly recommend continuing the series!

Thank you for listening through this analysis, we thoroughly enjoyed preparing it and the excuse to reread Mistborn! Let us know what you thought of the book, and we look forward to sharing another analysis with you!


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