Mistborn: The Final Empire, Mistborn: The Well of Ascension and Mistborn: The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
Well, where to start? I’m having trouble sleeping so rather than waste the times tossing and turning I’ve decided to blog about something I’ve been meaning to tackle for some time. Goodness knows I haven’t been devoting much time to my blog recently. I’ve been too busy writing but that’s probably not a bad thing.
I finished reading Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy and what can I say about them but wow. I loved it. Detailed magic system. Its own mythology. Great action. In fact, it is the way that these all come together that is truly superb. And Vin kicks ass.
I, like many others, came to Brandon Sanderson only after hearing the news that he would be taking on the monumental task of finishing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. This of course is old news. I personally think he’s doing a great job. That the story is finishing (and hopefully will finish) fantastically is of course due to Jordan’s imagination but it will be Brandon’s hard work that will get us there at the end. That hard work is something that, I humbly submit, I am coming to appreciate. Still when this was still new news, I checked out Sanderson’s credentials on the web. And so I was introduced to the works of Brandon Sanderson.
His website, www.brandonsanderson.com, features sample chapters for several of his works. I haven’t read Elantris properly yet but Mistborn is there too. Those samples were enough to get me enthused about this author. I think I tracked down The Way of Kings first, a huge book, the first in a forthcoming gargantuan series to rival Wheel of Time. I won’t say much about it here but it’s a page turner too. In it Sanderson takes a common fantasy trope involving prophecy and puts a sick twist on it. Fantastic.
It’s something that Brandon seems to like to do. In the Mistborn trilogy he takes stereotypical fantasy elements and turns them on their heads. The dark lord wins. Prophecy. Heroes. He innovates by challenging the status quo and he pulls it off satisfyingly well. I haven’t read the short story yet but ironically even his own laws aren’t sacred. In Mistborn: The Alloy of Law he breaks his own rule that guns don’t belong in fantasy.
The series is great. If you like the books I do, then read this one.
What I really want to talk about though are the annotations to be found through the Mistborn portal on his website. These annotations give chapter by chapter commentary on the books. They are a fabulous insight into his writing process. Personally, they demonstrated to me that books don’t come fully and perfectly formed. Sanderson shares with us what his thoughts were as he wrote, what he was trying to achieve, what he changed, what options he had. Sometimes he wrote one thing one way but somehow came to change it to the complete opposite and it ended up perfectly. This could be on things of small consequence but one notable example was that originally, Vin, the female lead character, began her existence as a boy. Did I mention she is awesome?
His notes give me an idea of the sheer volume of work that goes into writing a book. There are all sorts of useful and interesting notes about how the stories were built, shaped and reshaped. He speaks frankly about structure, pacing, tension, character development and screen time; a veritable treasure for anyone looking to see how a story gets made. It was reassuring to see that it’s not all about divine inspiration but that hard work for mere mortals like me can put together an excellent story. It’s god-hard work for sure but there is hope.
I feel privileged to be able to access the thoughts and reflections of such a successful (and honest) writer. Readers check out the books. Writers check out the notes. Good night.