Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, Mistborn readalong week 2
Just finished reading the concluding chapters of Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson for the readalong being hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. This has really been a great book choice for a readalong and has generated such a lot of discussion. Without further ado lets get to this week’s questions – if you haven’t read Final Empire and intend to do so then you might want to stop reading now as spoilers will be contained below.
1. So, what do you think of Kelsier’s plan now? Or his ‘plan within a plan’? How do you feel the late introduction of the kandra and how it fit into Kelsier’s plan?
I was really surprised by the introduction of the Kandra. I knew that Renoux was different and there had been a couple of hints along the way about this but I hadn’t really given it a lot of consideration. I truly never saw that coming at all and was genuinely surprised. Even more so because for one split second I actually thought Kelsier was alive again and was expecting some strange explanation of how this could be so. I must admit I found the fact that the Kandra had had to consume his body in order to become Kel a bit ‘icky’. I couldn’t believe that all along Kel had planned this? I just couldn’t help thinking surely you could have come up with a plan where you didn’t have to die. And now the Kandra is under Vin’s control? Interesting. I guess at the end Kel did become the martyr to the cause and the nudge to provoke the Skaa to uprise.
2. The final section of the book was very Vin-centric. How do you feel about the choices she made and did you have any worries/fears about what might happen to her before everything was resolved?
Well, at first she came across as a little rash just running into action without anything that seemed to resemble a plan. I didn’t blame her though in fact I admired her for it. I suppose for Vin she’d always figured that they would never pull this plan off and she was always anticipating her own death so in her eyes it wasn’t like she had anything to lose. I also felt that finally she had come to the conclusion that she was different and started to have some self belief – I thought that was a really good moment, a sort of turning point. I actually didn’t have any worries about what was going to happen to Vin, even when she was captured. Not because I had everything figured out, far from it, but it just seemed that with Kel dead if Vin followed suit then there would be very little left to take the story forward. I guess I was having one of those smug moments where you think that the hero can’t die when you’re watching a film, usually followed by the hero dying in some horrible way! Part of me was thinking ‘hold on, you didn’t think Kel was going to die’ and look how that ended but then the other part of me was thinking that if Vin died that would be the end because I can’t figure out who the story would then follow. Perhaps we’ll have some more characters introduced in the next book and who knows what will happen! I think all along I thought the Final Empire was going to be exactly that – the final empire – I know that’s rather simplistic but it’s what I always figured the title of the book referred to, although of course it could have two different interpretations. I never really thought that Kel would be the final hero (I didn’t think he would die) but it always felt like he was grooming Vin to be something more so I always thought she would come through in the end.
3. After all that we find out that the Lord Ruler wasn’t the prophesied one after all. Surprised? Had you figured it out? What thoughts do you have about the big reveal, including how it tied into Sazed’s people?
I was very surprised by the eventual reveal. I always thought that the Lord Ruler was not the prophesied one, I thought he was someone who had mistakenly applied the prophecy to himself – I was almost thinking that Vin might be the one the prophecy related to and that was why I was confident that she would defeat him at the end. It was also why I thought he was looking for her. I think during the discussions last week the point had arisen about the Lord Ruler not being the real prophesised one but this point was made in relation to the fact that that his chronicles had stopped abruptly – to be honest, I must admit that I never really thought about that. It just didn’t occur to me that his chronicles had stopped because someone else had taken his place. I thought his chronicles had stopped because he’d fundamentally changed somehow. I don’t know whether I’m just incredibly dense but I found so many surprises at the end of this novel, things that I hadn’t foreseen but I’m really pleased that Sanderson was able to do that. Sometimes I have no problem second guessing what’s going to happen in a book and whilst this might make me feel all pleased with myself momentarily to be honest it’s far preferable to have an ending that I didn’t suspect at all.
4. There was some back and forth about Elend throughout the story and we finally got to see him take a greater stand. Any predictions about what might happen in book two with Elend taking on leadership duties?
I think after all my answers to the above I might as well give up on making predications for the rest of this trilogy! I always liked Elend and I hoped that he would have a chance to prove himself which I think he finally did at the end. I don’t know how he will cope with leadership. He never particularly struck me as someone with leadership abilities but I’m prepared to be surprised by him. And he comes from a house used to running things so maybe some of that leadership will have rubbed off on him.
5. Lastly, provide a little wrap up of your experience with the book. What do you think Sanderson’s strengths are? How does this book stack up against other fantasies you’ve read?
This is my first Sanderson novel. He’s an author that I’ve heard lots of good things about but for some reason have never got into reading. I don’t think this is anything more than a desire on my part not to get into any more lengthy series of ‘BIG’ books. However, I’m really pleased that I’ve had the opportunity to read this as part of a readalong – it makes the whole experience so much more rewarding. I’ve twisted and turned with my opinions on this novel more than a twisty turny thing. Basically this is an excellent book for a group discussion. There are so many elements to it but Sanderson manages to introduce them in a way that is easy to come to grips with and doesn’t come across as a major expo dump. I also love the way that he anticipates what you’re thinking as a reader. I found that I’d be reading some element and thinking ‘but why did such a thing happen?’ and within a couple of paragraphs I usually got the answer. On top of this he’s managed to come up with such a wonderful story, a strange place that we’ve yet got so much to learn about, a well thought out magical system that is unique to anything I’ve read about before and new races of people with amazing abilities. You kind of expect dwarves and elves in fantasy these days and you also kind of feel as though the world in which the fantasy will be set will be earth – none of that is true of this novel. I’m eagerly awaiting our readalong for number 2 and would like to thank Carl for hosting this readalong.