The Final Empire: A Review

The-Final-Empire-by-Brandon-Sanderson.jpgThe Final Empire is the first instalment in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. It follows a thieving crew on their most dangerous heist yet. Led by the charismatic and always smiling Kelsier, they begin planning to overthrow The Final Empire ruled by the oppressive dictator, the Lord Ruler. The Final Empire has its people divided into two categories; the noblemen which are preferred by the Lord Ruler that carry out the oppression of the skaa that are slaves, workers, and the poor people within the Empire. The two can never mix and you can’t go from being skaa to nobleman or the other way around. The reason for the strict segregation being the Allomantic powers that the Lord Ruler has granted the noblemen. Allomancy is the ability to burn different sorts of metals to produce powers. Controlling one power makes you a Misting, controlling all metals makes you a Mistborn. Kelsier, the main protagonist is a rare exception, he is a skaa Mistborn making him half nobleman and half skaa that are hunted by the Canton of Inquisitors.

Kelsier is very powerful Mistborn and incredibly fascinating and credulous despite all the responsibility he has taken on. He is the main protagonist in the book and travels amongst the skaa plantations to riot and recruit rebels for his cause. His moral compass is stubbornly and sometimes questionably due north. Despite being a good man he is a ruthless fighter and assassin. For example, he finds the second main character of the book, Vin, in the hands of an abusive thieving crew leader and kills him off. He is heroic, but the line between heroic and vengeful is thin.

Vin is small in figure and in presence due to the harsh conditions which she had been forced to grow up under. She begins the story as a scared and young female survivor and finishes the book a strong and powerful warrior, both parts making her an amazing and well rounded character. He character development is one of my favourite of all time. If there is one thing Brandon Sanderson has done right, it is to write an abused female survivor. He pens an incredibly clever and dynamic figure that manages to stretch herself every which way to survive. Unfortunately, other female characters placed in similar situations as Vin in other fiction books, are always handed a male character that will save them. Although Kelsier is the one to physically remove her from the abusive situation she is in, her survival is never undermined. And another thing I just cannot thank Sanderson enough for is the lack of her sexualisation! Can fantasy writers – ehm, ehm, GRRM, ehm – take notes? Having suffered fear of rape, Vin is never treated or viewed as a sexual object by the mainly male cast in the series. The crew tease her for not being a proper lady, because she is made to imitate one, but there is an understanding by the crew why it is safer for her to act boyish amongst thieving crews. They all take her under their wing and treat her so good, my fucking baby deserves it! I’m gonna cry.

Another interesting aspect of Vin’s character is how Sanderson utilises her perspective to introduce us to the world that The Final Empire exists within. We learn about Allomancy, the noblemen and skaa, all from her perspective. In this way, the complexity of the world was made incredibly easy to envision and understand.

Sanderson is an accomplished author and he writes fight scenes so perfectly it’s like having them played out in front of me. But I’m sorry and saddened to say, he can’t write dialogue for shit, which comprises most of Vin’s interaction with her love interest. For example, Vin’s relationship with Kelsier feels more genuine and still throbs inside my brain because of how deep and special it is. Their interaction is subtle, never that much dialogue passes between them, and Sanderson grips and twists us into them by his descriptions. His writing, pure description and story telling, is so fucking good that it almost makes it okay that his dialogues are shit. But since the main romantic relationship is built on dialogue it kind of makes me reluctant to give it 5/5.

 

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A Game of Thrones

Genre: High Fantasy, Trigger warning: rape, abuse, violence, Publication date: August 1st 1996, Rating: starstarstarstarstar/5

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A Game of Thrones is the first book in the series of A Song Of Ice And Fire by George RR Martin. If you live under a rock I’ll give a quick summary of the story and then delve into deeper themes of the story.

The story is set in a fantasy universe where winter and summer last for years. In the start of the series they are having one of the longest summers they have ever experienced of almost ten years. In preparation for winter the King’s council are responsible for rationing their food supply and use. And everyone wars that after a long summer comes an even longer winter. The Seven Kingdoms are largely ruled by King Robert Baratheon that waged a war against the old rule for his abducted betrothed Lyanna Stark. Mostly, he drinks and fucks and enjoys his other royal engagements whilst the Hand of the King rules. When the Hand dies, the King travels up north to retrieve his old friend, and Lyanna’s brother, Eddard Stark to be the new Hand. Unfortunately, the safety and emptiness of the north doesn’t ready Eddard for the corrupt south and he finds that power is unevenly distributed within the country. As he tries to amend the broken system he is supposed to deal with he is betrayed and broken by everyone he holds dear. The first book ultimately finishes with his ultimate loss of control and what comes after is a fucking shit streak in comparison to the piss stain the first book is.

Although I won’t be continuing my reread of ASOIAF until after the series airs, I want to add this review to the collection because this book and series mean a whole lot to me. I’ve been trying to finish this review for a while but it’s impossible since nothing can be said without giving away a major plot line/twist.

The series is written from different POV that take you across the whole ASOIAF universe. Despite being written in third person every chapter has a special sense to it, they’re never similar even though they’re not strictly first person. It’s not enough to say that GRRM has written a book series, he has created an entire universe. If he’s not a genius he must be a god. The writing is engaging and your reading experience depends on what characters you prefer. Interestingly enough, the book never takes its own stand on any issues and allows you to form your own opinions on each character. GRRM shows you who the characters really are, down to the nitty gritty and horrendous details. There is not a single chapter that isn’t necessary to the plot and story, and each book being a thousand pages long might give you an idea of how complex the ASOIF-universe is.

GRRM has a talent in not only displaying how horrible human nature truly is but how it develops by greed, hate, jealousy, and societal restriction. He explores sexism in depth and in different cultures, maybe not in this book but the entire series is a dismantling of human nature and oppression of women and slaves.

All in all, it is one of the best pieces of literature I have ever read and probably will ever read. It is although not my favourite of the entire series but maybe I’ll go further into that once I finish my reread.

 

Book review: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

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Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Francesca is new at St. Sebastian’s, a former all-boys school. Her only female companions are the ultra-feminist Tara, the “slut” Siobahn, and her best friend Justine. Her male companions are Thomas the slob, Jimmy the stoner, and Will the senior that won’t stop making Francesca grin.

Outside of school, Fran has her ambitious mother that becomes suddenly severely depressed and her average-joe father.

It is an incredibly touching story that takes you back in time to when you yourself were in school.

Francesca and her friends make up a group of incredibly relatable characters that embody a cross section of any highschool in the world with the essential divisions into slobs, stoners, and high achievers. The book is set in Sydney, Australia and offers a glimpse into the Australian transition into a more inclusive educational system. It is a very important book that introduces feminism, refugees, and identity. The author also writes in a very interesting manner, in which she offer glimpses into side characters’ lives without rounding them out. This allows for a very realistic narrative, since we all mainly focus on our own story but have people in our lives with stories that we are partially invited to.

The writing is also very fascinating; it is written in first person and manages to capture the essence of a teenage girl’s voice. One interesting device is the repetion of “When I grow up, I am going to become…” that changes each time she says it. She wants to be a teacher, a police, and lastly she says she wants to be her mother. That part was the most relatable for me, because in highschool I was completely lost at a time that my future rested on. It is stupid to ask a teenager to decide their whole future when they’re 18. Not everyone has their life figured out, and if they do they might not always be happy with them but be forced to follow through due to society’s demands. All of this is scrutinised subtly in the book through its many socially diverse characters.

The only thing I would have wanted it to explore along with feminism, refugees, and identity would have been native Australians. Their lack of representation was duly noted since they make up a large part of the non-extensive Australian history.

This is the only book written in first person that I am whole-heartedly willing to give a 5 star rating to! Incredible, riveting, immense!

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Six of Crows & Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo


Six of Crows flings us into the already developed Grisha world from the Grisha trilogy. Being a completely separate series it successfully manages to completely reintroduce a whole new world. I have not read the Grisha trilogy so I can’t compare but having read SoC and CK I can still deduce that this is one of her strongest writing in her carrier.

The story begins with a heist that a notorious swindler, Kaz Brekker, is offered 30 million kruge for to complete. He manages to find the 5 most pure and layered characters to join him. Their mission is simple; break into an impenetrable prison and break out a prisoner that may or may not be alive. Actually, they break into a prison(cheat and kill) within the first 100 pages of the book before they even attempt their mission.

In Crooked Kingdom the story unfolds further, the rules for the heist changes, and the stakes get higher than 30 million kruge. Simultaneously, Kaz gets the opportunity to avenge his miserable childhood and get his revenge on unjust and ruthless thugs he would usually call his colleagues.

To perform the heist there are a few things needed; Kaz’s brains, a Wraith called Inej Ghafa to seek out all the secrets and whispers that lie hidden between the bricks of their city Ketterdam. A witch, Nina Zenik, is also required for getting past guards noiselessly. A soldier that used to protect the prison that you want to break into is also handy, Matthias Helvar also happens to be Nina’s enemy and true love. There is also no heist without a guns guy, Jesper Fahey with his pearl studded revolvers, and an explosives guy, Wylan Van Eck, to get them out of impossible corners.

The characters are not only layered and interesting but also diverse in all manners of speaking. There are gay PoC, PoC, bisexuality and characters struggling with dyslexia and gambling addiction. All these themes are also dealt with respectfully and excellently!

It is also all topped off with beautiful writing; there exists a balance between prosaic verse and straightforward explanation. The action are incredibly well explained, I found no difficulty envisioning the characters and their positions. I don’t think I’ve ever been confused this little by a book with this kind of action in it.

My overall opinion of this book is very high. This is the best fantasy heist duology that I have read and will ever read. Despite the characters not necessarily staying with me after the first book, by the beginning of the second book the match was lit and there were definite sparks. I just want to add that Crooked Kingdom was straight fire from the first to last page. It was so easy to get through and if not for work I believe I would have finished it in one sitting. Due to exams I think it took me 11 days to finish but maybe 6 or 7 sittings.

A definite 5-star rating from me!