The Final Empire

Feed Me Books Now | 17:42 | | 5 Comments so far
Let me start this review by saying that I will never be able to do The Final Empire justice. In fact, it’s a pointless endeavour to even try and comprehend my thoughts, let alone to write them down coherently. But I'm attempting to write this review for one simple reason: if you read one fantasy novel this year, it needs to be this one.

Author: Brandon Sanderson | Publisher: Gollancz | Pages: 647 | Source: Bought 

The mists rule the night... the Lord Ruler owns the world.

For a thousand years the ash fell. For a thousand years, the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years, the Lord Ruler reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Every attempted revolt has failed miserably.

Yet somehow hope survives. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind and the courage of an unlikely heroine, a Skaa street urchin, who must learn to master Allomancy, the power of a mistborn.

My Thoughts: The Final Empire is everything I love about fantasy. In fact, it’s everything I love about reading. Within this novel, Sanderson has created a world that manifests in the reader’s mind, a crew of loveable underdogs who fight vehemently against the totalitarian leadership and a new type of magic that will leave you in awe. From the world building to the character development, from the plot to the prose, The Final Empire had me engrossed throughout.

The magic in The Final Empire was intriguing indeed; I half expected to fall asleep that night into a slumber laced with mist and swarms of blue. Sanderson has created a wholly unique and endlessly fascinating system of magic, one that the reader can't help but enjoy. Not to mention, the magic was incredibly well-explained and detailed, with different snippets and elements being slowly introduced throughout. Sanderson's system of Allomancy and concept of the mistborn was original, gripping and easily one of the best elements I've ever seen in a fantasy novel.

"Ah, but being an annoyance is something that I am very good at. In fact, I'm far more than just a 'mild' annoyance – people tell me I can be downright frustrating. Might as well use this talent for the cause of good, eh?"

As for the characters: Kelsier, oh, Kelsier, you're definitely a new favourite. Perhaps, I'm just easily impressed by any protagonist who's a criminal mastermind with a strong sense of humour… but, that said, there are still plenty of other reasons to adore Kelsier. First of all, he's the definition of an antihero – forever scheming and plotting, you never know his motives or where his loyalty lies (or at least, not to begin with). He's also a compassionate fellow, one who takes Vin under his wing and mentors her. The almost paternal relationship he had with her uncurled into something beautiful – definitely a highlight. And then there's just so much more I could say about him; the brilliance of his relationships with others, especially with his brother and the rest of the crew; his sheer determination, perhaps his most admirable trait; his backstory, definitely one that'll have you intrigued; and just how incredibly well-written he was towards the end… Sanderson obviously cares about Kelsier to have written him with such credibility and force at the climax of The Final Empire.

But as much as I adored Kelsier, the brilliance of the second protagonist is why this duo worked so effectively. I mean, can I steal Vin to be my best friend?! Amongst the abundance of teenage heroines in the fantasy genre, Vin is easily one of my favourites. She's just driven by this dose of sheer curiosity, she has the most heart-wrenchlingly painful background story and is so easy to root for. Not to mention the progression you see within her is empowering to say the least. The admiration with which she regards Kelsier is simply heartwarming and the friendship between the two was surprisingly beautiful.

But my character raving doesn't end there because the secondary characters were brilliant too. This crew of criminals – each with different powers – fascinated me to the point I wanted to shed a why-don't-they-exist tear. Breeze, Yeden and Ham had me chuckling throughout (“You should try not to talk so much, friend. You'll sound far less stupid that way) and I couldn't have admired their determination any more. Elend grew on me as the novel went on (“My behavior is nonetheless, deplorable. Unfortunately, I'm quite prone to such bouts of deplorability – take for instance, my fondness for reading books at the dinner table”) and Sazed was a constant source of knowledge. And then, of course there's the added bonus of the antagonist: the Lord Ruler may sound far from human, but Sanderson had this wonderful way of humanising him throughout. Of course the readers are still supposed to hate the Lord Ruler, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy the insight into the mind of a villain.

What else can I say? The rebellion was one I genuinely cared for and the switch between the alluring, high society balls and stowed away, secret meeting rooms was intriguing to say the least. The pacing was perfect for a reader like me – someone who loves to know about every element of a world – and the action scenes were so cleverly combined with Sanderson's system of magic. The romance was very subtly done and, although there wasn't much of it, it worked well. All in all, The Final Empire left me in complete awe. Like I said at the beginning of this review: if you read one fantasy novel this year, it needs to be this one. My Goodreads rating: ★

Favourite Quotes:    
“The right belief is like a good cloak, I think. If it fits you well, it keeps you warm and safe. The wrong fit however, can suffocate.” 
“Honestly, for an evil god of darkness, he certainly can be dull.” 
“That’s the funny thing about arriving somewhere, Vin,” he said with a wink. “Once you’re there, the only thing you can really do is leave again.” 

In One Word?
The Final Empire was as enthralling as could be. I can't remember the last time I read such a forceful and intriguing beginning to a trilogy; believe me when I say that this novel will well and truly enthral you.

Recommended to fans of… The Bone Season 
The Final Empire has the same effortless complexity as Samantha Shannon's The Bone Season. If you loved the systems of Scion and the different types of powers in The Bone Season then I guarantee you'll enjoy the elements of Allomancy in The Final Empire. Not to mention that Vin has the same stubbornness as Paige, with both heroines being prone to sarcasm. :)

How I Blog

Feed Me Books Now | 19:46 | | | | 26 Comments so far

1) Where I blog: I blog curled up on my bed, with my laptop in front of me, a couple of books next to me (purely random choices in the gif above) and a cup of tea at the ready.

2) My blogging notebook: This is the notebook I tend to plan a lot of my posts in… as you can probably see, I'm not the most focussed person and I doodle a lot; let's just say I'm a professional doodler… I also stick little sketches I've done into it, simply because I lose them otherwise. Oh and I blurred out the words a bit so you can't see what they say… a few of them are future posts and I don't want to ruin the surprise. :)

3) The TBR Pile: The TBR pile consists of books that are 'to be read'… and I like to think that I have mine – somewhat – under control. I normally have two or three books on the go and each time I finish one, I pick up a new one from my TBR pile and review the old one. It's quite a simple system, really.

So that's how I blog in three gifs. Please tell me if you enjoyed this format as I'm thinking of doing something similar in the future.

Half Bad

Feed Me Books Now | 12:44 | | | 14 Comments so far
What springs to mind when I think of Half Bad? Witches, yes. Originality, yes. Harry Potter, no. For all of you who immediately dismiss Half Bad as a 'Harry-Potter-wannabe' simply because it's a YA witch novel: think again. Sally Green's debut is quirky, brimming with creativity and a compelling start to what is a promising trilogy.

Author: Sally Green | Publisher: Penguin | Pages: 380 | Source: Sent For Review 

You can't read, can't write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You've been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you've got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

My Thoughts: If I were to strip away all the things I enjoyed about Half Bad until just one thing remained, it would be this: the unexpectedness. Half Bad had me fully gripped, each turn of the page emerging me in a new element of Nathan's world. Not once, throughout the entire novel, did I expect what was going to happen; yes, I enjoyed other elements such as the characters and the fantasy, but it was the unpredictability that drew me in.

“There's these two kids, boys, sitting close together, squished in by the big arms of an old chair. You're the one on the left.” 

This all said, the structure was perhaps the most fascinating element. Written predominantly in first-person, yet interspersed with second-person mini-chapters, it was incredibly experimental. Whilst reading Half Bad, I couldn't help but wonder why so many other authors play it so safe. If you're looking for a dangerously refreshing novel, this is definitely your best bet. And that's not even mentioning Green's anti-hero protagonist: Nathan. At first, I found it incredibly, incredibly difficult to warm to his character, but I found the relationship between him and his Gran to be one of the most heart-warming out there; it didn't get that big a focus, but it was definitely why I ended up adoring him. Nathan's character opened up so many questions about morality and – and let's be honest – who doesn't love an anti-hero, whether or not they're likeable?

And now this is the point where I disagree with many of the other reviewers: the romance. Yes, I think the blurb exaggerates the importance of the romance – believe me, Annalise is lovely and all, but she's not that important. But I do think it has some credibility. There wasn't one moment I thought of it as a serious relationship, and I think that's what the reader's meant to do. I mean, of course Nathan thinks about Annalise – she's the only non-related figure in his life who has cared for him. To make a Harry Potter analogy (urgh, I said I wouldn't do this!), their relationship did remind me of Lily and Snape's early friendship: naive, bittersweet, hopeful. The romance wasn't the best developed, but it by no means ruined the book for me.

Needless to say, with such an interesting premise and distinct writing style, it's easy to why Half Bad has been such a hit so far. Not to mention the fact it's a debut; if Sally Green has started her career like this, then I'm optimistic for all future releases. My Goodreads rating: ★

Favourite Quote:    
“The trick is not to mind. Not mind about it hurting, not mind about anything. The trick of not minding is key; it's the only trick in town. Only this is not a town; it's a cage beside a cottage, surrounded by a load of hills and trees and sky. It's a one-trick cage.”

In One Word?

Half Bad is one of those books that lingers around in your mind, refusing to leave: it's bitter, coated in a layer of darkness, experimental and endearing. It's unexpected, brutal but playful. It's as unusual as could be.