I was in this book for the long haul, and enjoyed all of it. Admittedly,
there were times when I thought my rating would go lower, but by the end
it had sprang up a notch, surprising me. The scientific way magic is
described in this book was unexpected and quite absorbing. The author
repeats many of the abilities and their associated metal often enough
that I didn’t forget what each could do, though there was the risk
during some of the less action-packed scenes. I felt Vin’s wonder as she
learned Allomancy, leaping walls and influencing people as she gains
control over her magical powers. The balls were a little tiring, and
maybe went on for too long, but we did finally get something out of them
–friendship and maybe even love. The best part of the book is probably
the characterizations, as the big thieving crew all have their own
personalities and add to the story. But none grow the way that Vin and
Kelsier do, even to the end. The climax of the book had me reading
straight through, as I wondered how it would end, and if anybody would
survive. This wasn’t one of those books that gripped me from the first
pages. I liked it, then liked it some more, and then a little less, then
finally loved it. Part of it was the early writing style, I think. I
can’t quite grasp what felt off about it, but there were times when it
seemed like it was dipping into something less mature. But then the
feeling would pass, and we would get a great sequence. I’m looking
forward to the rest of this series.
This book started off very interesting, but I wasn’t expecting it
to five-star status, all the way through the three-quarter mark. I even
thought of dropping the rating at one point, as the book slowed down.
But there are other five-star books out there with similar problems,
such as the Fellowship of the Ring, which goes through the endless Tom
Bombadil and the very long Council of Elrond before picking up. Like
that book, The Final Empire rises to the challenge with unique ideas and
excellent execution in its last quarter.
foremost, I loved how the magic in this book was treated scientifically.
There is no explanation of how things work, but when it does, it follows
strict rules. Better yet, our main characters don’t know everything
about these rules. Kelsier teaches what he knows, and Vin challenges
that when she senses things he does not. Pushing, Pulling, Soothing,
Rioting, Strengthening, and more, all give Kelsier and Vin a way to do
things ordinary people can’t.
I love the way Vin starts out the
book knowing that she can influence people with her “Luck”, soothing
them using only the trace metals in the water she drinks, the stuff that
wears off steel mugs or utensils. She’s an essential part of a thieving
guild, who manages to ward off many beatings and attempted rapes because
of her internal Luck. When she tries to soothe an Obligator, she’s
hunted by an Inquisitor and most of her crew is later killed because of
Kelsier, on the other hand, knows all about Allomancy, which
is what part of Vin’s Luck is. He’s been practicing Allomancy for three
years, and was lovers with an Allomancer before that. He is the Survivor
of the Pits where they mine Atium, a metal that allows Allomancers to
see slightly into the future, and which the Lord Ruler hoards.
The world is divided up into skaa, or peasants, and the nobility, but
there are many variants, like the Terrismen who can store up energies
for use later, or the kandra, who can shapeshift into other forms. As
the nobility oppress the skaa and kill them at random, and any nobleman
who takes a skaa woman to his bed has to kill the woman later, it’s ripe
The book is very long, but I enjoyed coming back
to it every day, learning as Vin learned, plotting the rebellion with
Kelsier. At some points the book moved very slowly, but that, too,
allowed us to learn more about the world. I think too much time was
spent at the balls, but it showed some variety to the characters and
plots. I felt like I was entering Bridgerton world at times, as it took
on the quality of a cheap romance, which was what tempted me to drop the
But then we would be given a new nugget of
information, like the awesome Sazed’s powers of strength or memory,
using metal bracelets to store up strength by becoming weak for a while,
growing young by being old for a few days, and so on. Or Kelsier would
go on one of his raiding trips to a nobleman’s keep, where he would rob
them and kill them, for what they were doing to the skaa.
the best part of the book was Vin, who grew from the insecure girl into
a woman who took security from the night, and finally gained the
confidence to confront the Lord Ruler himself. I think I had two
favorite action sequences. My top scene was when Vin decides to save
Elend’s life, and takes on Shan and her assassins above his skylight.
The battle between the two women was amazing, and I loved the way Vin
manages to get the upper hand. It takes a street urchin to trick her,
making her think all Vin’s atium was used up, then flaring it again. The
second was the way Vin actually made a plan to kill the Lord Ruler. At
first she goes to confront him head-to-head, which was stupid, but makes
sense for the character. But burning the eleventh metal allowed her to
see a younger version of the Lord Ruler, so she theorizes that she could
kill that version, which would cascade into the present –but as she
executes her strategy, well thought out, she fails because her theory is
wrong! Terrific plotting!
Most of the story weaves around
Kelsier’s teaching the stubborn but sponge-like Vin, and learning what
the thieving crew (or in this case revolutionary crew) could do. All of
Dockson, Breeze, Ham, Spook and the others had a role to play, even if
they were small ones. The army that they create and train goes rogue
because of an inspirational speech by Kelsier, leading to a shift in
plans. His brother Marsh is apparently killed, leading to a bold attack
by Kelsier on the very atium pits where he lost his lover –but Marsh
appears as an Inquisitor at the end to save Vin as she battles the Lord Ruler. Even the
Lord Ruler isn’t who he seems, but the enemy of the one who was supposed
to save the world –who ended up enslaving it, but to what purpose? Is he
still battling the Deepness with the atium?
Many of the little
things introduced have concluding elements, such as Vin’s brother, who
left her so she feels abandoned –I kept wondering when he’d appear to
some role, but it turns out he protected her after being captured by
There are still so many unanswered questions, too,
which is obviously why there are more books in this series. What
happened a thousand years ago? If there is an eleventh metal, is there a
matching twelfth? What do the Inquisitors and Obligators know about
Allomancy that regular Allonmancers don’t? There are so many hints, and
I hope they can be properly explained.
I was confused at one
point by the term Steel Inquisitors, as I thought they would only be
able to Pull metals, but they were Pushing and Pulling all the time,
which led me to believe there was more to the process, and I was right.
Based on Marsh’s experience, I wonder if the Inquisitors can steal other
people’s magic, which could make them so powerful.
the romance between Vin and Elend, which was allowed to simmer for a
long time. I thought Elend was very funny, especially in the way he
ignored Vin for most of their romance, and she was so incensed. But when
he’s absent, she misses his presence, and even though she passes her
time gathering gossip for the House Wars, she’s always looking for
Elend. Elend himself is interested in the skaa, and when he inevitably
finds out she’s a skaa, he’s not angered as his friend is, but
intrigued. It shows him as a potentially just ruler, even if he doesn’t
have the skills to become King because he’s ignored his lessons.
If there is anything that might bring the book down a bit, it was
the writing style. I noticed it near the start of the book, and it grew
more pronounced during the endless balls. I would forget about it during
action sequences, and only noticed that when we returned to the balls.
Vin is written as a na´ve girl, which she is, but I thought Kelsier
could have been written a little more complex. I have trouble labeling
what I felt was missing from the writing, but it only got noticeable
occasionally. Not to mention that the ending was so good that the book
ended with the great style of writing. In the last couple of hundred
pages, as Kelsier is killed by the Lord Ruler, becoming a martyr and
engaging the skaa rebellion, then Vin confronts the Lord Ruler twice, my
rating skyrocketed, as all the small pieces that were laid out before
In this way, the length of the book helped. While
I think the author could have cut many sequences and brought the length
down, the character development was strong because of it, as things
moved slowly, but the characters grew slowly as well.
I hope the
author can keep up this level of character development, now that the
charismatic Kelsier is gone. I look forward to the next step.