My copies of The Mistborn original books

My Mistborn Trilogy Review – The Best Fantasy of All Time?

The Mistborn Trilogy (also known as Mistborn Era 1), penned by the acclaimed fantasy author Brandon Sanderson, is a gripping series that has captured the hearts of countless readers worldwide. As a fan of the fantasy genre, I was excited to dive into this renowned trilogy, eager to explore the Mistborn saga’ complex characters, intricate plots, and unique magic system.

I’ll be honest, I was terrified to read this series. I’d only read Yumi & The Nightmare Painter and Tress of the Emerald Sea by this author, which are fantastic but considerably lighter reads; the prospect of reading a high fantasy that’s a combined 2000+ pages was intimidating, to say the least. But I finally picked it up, and I’m so glad I did!

If you’re similarly intimidated as I was or you’re wondering if the series is for you, this Mistborn trilogy review will break down my honest thoughts on the book – including why it’s gone down as one of my favorite reads of all time!

**Disclaimer: There are affiliate links below, which means if you make a purchase after clicking on one, i may earn a commission.

My copies of The Mistborn original books

Read If You Like:

  • Strong female characters: The trilogy boasts well-rounded, strong female protagonists like Vin, who navigate the challenges of the world with determination and courage.

  • Epic fantasy: The sprawling plot is filled with unexpected twists and turns, taking readers on a thrilling journey through the intricacies of its world.

  • An Interesting magic system: The unique Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy systems are central to the story and will appeal to those who love complex, well-developed magical systems in their fantasy.

  • Dark lords and moral ambiguity: Characters such as the Lord Ruler and Inquisitors embody the classic “Dark Lord” archetype, while the trilogy also explores themes of morality, challenging conventional ideas of good and evil.

  • Detailed worldbuilding: The rich, extensive background and lore created for the Mistborn world will immerse readers into an environment that’s both captivating and thought-provoking.

I really appreciate how the Mistborn Trilogy integrates all these elements to create a memorable reading experience. Readers who enjoy similar fantasy tropes and themes will undoubtedly find this series a compelling addition to their library!

Pass If You Don’t Like:

  • Gritty Fantasy: If you’re not a fan of gritty fantasy with violent elements, then the Mistborn Trilogy might not be the right choice for you. The series features numerous dark and intense scenes, which some readers might find unsettling.

  • Main characters dying: It’s not quite as bad as Game of Thrones, but you should know it’s one of those books where people die, and not just the token side-characters that no one really cares about.

You can watch my full review (with and without spoilers, spoilers are clearly marked) in the below video, too!

Themes and Motifs

Prophesied Hero

The Mistborn Trilogy skillfully challenges the traditional Prophesied Hero trope. I found this to be a refreshing and intriguing narrative device. Instead of predictably following the clichéd “chosen one” plotline throughout the series, the unexpected twists surrounding the Prophesied Hero add an element of surprise.

Trust and Faith

Another prominent theme in the trilogy centers on trust and faith. In the beginning, Vin, the main character, struggles with trusting others. As the story progresses, she and her allies face moments in which they must put faith in one another, even when it’s difficult.

Sazed, another important figure in the story, serves as a reliable source of wisdom on faith and religion. His thought-provoking dialogues enhance the depth of the narrative and force characters (as well as readers) to consider and, at times, reevaluate their beliefs and convictions.

Moral Ambiguity

The Mistborn Trilogy is rich in morally complex characters, making it difficult to label them as purely good or evil. For instance, one character, Kelsier, a beloved hero among readers, is a powerful Mistborn but reveals a darker side throughout the story. The challenging decisions he makes enlightened me as a reader and added nuance to the unfolding plot.

Similarly, other protagonists and antagonists defy simple categorization. This results in a captivating story that refuses to be pigeonholed into an archetypal good-versus-evil narrative.

Throughout the Mistborn Trilogy, these themes , characters feeland motifs pivot gracefully around one another, giving readers a satisfyingly multilayered experience.


The Mistborn Trilogy’s world-building truly stands out as a masterfully crafted setting for an engaging high fantasy story. As a reader, I appreciate how the intricacies are unveiled gradually, allowing for a natural progression that’s easy to understand.

The unique magic systems in the Mistborn world are fascinating and well thought-out. Sanderson’s clarity in his writing ensures that the reader never feels overwhelmed by the complexity of the epic fantasy elements. He carefully balances the introduction of magical concepts with the progression of the storyline, expertly weaving them together.

The attention to detail in the setting provides a strong foundation for the exploration of intricate fantasy themes. Here’s a brief description of the Mistborn world’s main elements:

  • Final Empire: A vast and oppressive society on the brink of change where the Mistborn Trilogy takes place.

  • Magic Systems: Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy – which are magical effects drawn from metals – are the primary magical concepts introduced throughout the series.

  • Epic Fantasy Setting: With sprawling cities and a diverse cast of characters, the Mistborn world provides a rich backdrop for a captivating narrative.

The marriage of world-building and Sanderson’s accessible writing style makes this trilogy an excellent entrance point for readers who are new to high fantasy or simply looking to start with Brandon Sanderson’s repertoire. His clear and engaging prose enhances the immersion into the complex and enthralling world of the series.


There are three books in Mistborn Era 1. I’ll briefly give a plot overview of each (while avoiding spoilers, for course!)

The Final Empire

This first book takes place on a planet that – for lack of a better phrase – is having a rough time. The world is covered in a weird mist, and the sun is filtered red from the constant ashfall of the ashmounts that cover the land. Worse still, the world is dominated by a divinely invincible tyrant who enslaves all but the nobility he’s chosen to favor.

At the core of this first book are two main characters – Vin, a young street urchin who survives through thievery, and Kelsier, a criminal mastermind leading a group of thieves. Kelsier takes Vin in and becomes her mentor, guiding her and integrating her into his crew.

The book builds up the world and establishes the intrigue surrounding the characters. In this story, Kelsier isn’t an ordinary thief but a Mistborn, someone who draws power from ingesting various metals. As the story unfolds, we learn more about the magic system, Allomancy, and its near-scientific approach to the different powers derived from various metals.

The book builds up the world and establishes the intrigue surrounding the characters.

The Well of Ascension

The second book picks up a year after the events in the first book. Society is on the brink of collapse, the mists are acting strangely, and different factions wage war against one another. Our beloved heroes are left to figure out how to deal with it all.

This book develops the characters further and adds depth to figures like Sazed, Spook, and Elend as they become more central to the plot. Several new characters are also introduced. While some readers may find the introspective nature of the character development slow, there are still captivating action sequences and intrigue throughout the book.

The ending is also downright explosive and left me afraid to pick up the last book, fearing what fresh devastation still awaited me! I say that in the best possible way. (I’ve learned this is typical of Brandon Sanderson books – wild and exciting endings are known endearingly by fans as the “Sanderlanche”)

The Hero of Ages

The third and final book in the trilogy, “The Hero of Ages,” brings everything together in a masterful and satisfying resolution. As I’m trying to keep this book review spoiler-free, I won’t delve into the specific details. However, I will say this book surpasses the previous two entries and left me utterly amazed.

I found myself annotating more, trying to note all the important details. The Sanderlanche really hits in the last 150 pages, where the pace became relentlessly gripping. (I spent my entire weekend unable to put it down until it was done!)

The conclusion quite literally moved me to tears and left me pondering the story long after I finished the book. It is quite possibly the best book I have ever read, and I don’t say that lightly because I have a lot of favorites!


The Mistborn saga boasts a diverse and multi-layered cast of characters that truly captivates the reader. Each main character has their own unique personality, motivations, and flaws which make them relatable and human.

In the first book, we mainly focus on Vin and Kelsier, the main protagonist and mentor figure, respectively. However, as the series progresses in books 2 and 3, we are introduced to a larger ensemble, including the compelling shapeshifter, TenSoon, who quickly became a personal favorite of mine.

Character development is a strong point in the saga, as we see the characters grow, learn, and face their own flaws over time. Their distinct relationships with each other add depth to the story.

That said, there is one aspect that could have been improved on the relationship front. A notable romantic subplot in the series feels a bit lacking in genuine connection. While it’s true that romance isn’t the main focus of a high fantasy novel, the relationship between these two characters is essential to the plot, making it important for the reader to feel invested in their bond truly.

Maybe I’ve just read too many romantasy books, but that’s how I feel. But it’s definitely not a deal breaker by any stretch, I’m really nitpicking here.

Writing Style

Writing style is definitely one of Sanderson’s strengths. And while the style in the Mistborn Trilogy might not be as refined as some of his later works, (Yumi & The Nightmare Painter is a work of art, in my opinion) it is still clear, entertaining, and engaging.

A testament to his ability to manipulate emotions lies in the time he spends on character introspection throughout the series. While some readers may argue that these sections can be slow-paced, I believe that they serve the purpose of creating a deeper connection with the characters and their inner struggles.

I love character development, so I ate it up.

However, action-lovers need not worry, as Brandon Sanderson also excels at crafting unique and thrilling action scenes.

The Mistborn Trilogy presents a slow burn narrative, taking time to build the world, characters, and story. This deliberate pacing allows readers the opportunity to become immersed in a vividly constructed universe. With that in mind, here’s a brief overview of the trilogy’s writing style elements:

  • Introspection: Character self-reflection and emotional growth

  • Action: Exciting, distinctive, and well-written fight scenes

  • Pacing: A slow burn that allows for world-building and character development

  • Language: Clear, entertaining, and engaging throughout

Final Thoughts and Rating

In my opinion, the Mistborn Trilogy genuinely deserves a 5-star rating. Each book in the series is gripping and well-crafted, but The Hero of Ages changed downright my brain chemistry. If I could, I would assign it a 6-star rating. (I have never wanted to give any book six stars!)

Another reason I highly recommend this series is its re-readability factor. Discovering new insights and uncovering underlying “Cosmere connections” makes revisiting these books deeply rewarding. I have no doubt I’ll continue to find more nuggets of interest with every re-read.

In short, You can’t go wrong with any of Sanderson’s work, but the Mistborn Trilogy, in particular, is an essential addition to any fantasy bookshelf. It rightfully earns its 5-star rating.

I hope you enjoyed my Mistborn trilogy review! Now I have to tackle the next installment, Mistborn Era 2! (And Stormlight Archive.. And well… all of Sanderson’s Cosmere books!)

  • The Final Empire: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • The Well of Ascension: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • The Hero of Ages: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Frequently Asked Questions

What themes are explored in the Mistborn Trilogy?

In the Mistborn Trilogy, I observed themes of loyalty, trust, and political intrigue. These themes are often weaved throughout the books, with protagonists and supporting characters navigating complex dynamics and relationships. In addition, themes of self-discovery and personal growth are present as characters grapple with their new abilities and responsibilities.

How does the Mistborn series fit within the Cosmere universe?

The Mistborn series is a part of the larger Cosmere universe, which comprises various interconnected series and standalone novels by Brandon Sanderson. Although the Mistborn Trilogy takes place on its own world, Scadrial, elements such as magic systems, deities, and recurring characters tie it to the broader Cosmere universe. Nevertheless, my reading experience suggests that one can enjoy the Mistborn Trilogy without prior knowledge of the Cosmere.

What character development can readers expect throughout the Mistborn Trilogy?

Throughout the Mistborn Trilogy, I witnessed compelling character growth. Protagonists like Vin and Kelsier evolve as they confront challenges, both internal and external. Readers can expect these characters to undergo significant transformations while forging close bonds with other characters. The development of secondary characters further enriches the story and adds complexity to the world of Scadrial.

Can the Mistborn Trilogy be read as a standalone series, or should one read other related books first?

The Mistborn Trilogy can be enjoyed as a standalone series. While it is part of the Cosmere universe, the trilogy provides a complete and self-contained narrative. This allows readers the option to either explore additional Cosmere titles to expand their understanding or simply appreciate the Mistborn books in isolation.

What kind of magic system is presented in the Mistborn books, and how is it unique?

The Mistborn Trilogy features a distinct and fascinating magic system called Allomancy. Allomancy revolves around the ingestion and “burning” of specific metals, which grants users temporary powers. For example, burning steel enables the user to push against nearby metal objects, while burning tin enhances their senses. This magic system is unique because of its intricate rules and limitations, making it a main source of appeal for readers.

Are there any recommended companion novels or series for expanded lore in the Mistborn Trilogy?

For readers seeking to delve deeper into the history and lore of Scadrial and the Cosmere universe as a whole, there are several related series and standalone works to explore. Firstly, the Wax and Wayne series continues the story of Scadrial, set several centuries after the Mistborn Trilogy. Other significant Cosmere works include the Stormlight Archive, Elantris, and Warbreaker. Additionally, Arcanum Unbounded is a collection of short stories and novellas that complement the Cosmere universe and offer further insights.

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