By: Ariel Zinkan
Fantasy stories give readers the ability to escape to unknown worlds and imagine what it would be like to wield magical powers. Beyond that, though, they are rooted in the things that are very real in our world: emotions like love and hate. They are a way for us to explore some of the problems in the real world in a less obvious and, arguably, more fun way. In my opinion, one of the best authors to go to for that unique mix of wonder, action, and real humanity is Brandon Sanderson.
Sanderson has written a number of incredible fantasy novels and series, one of my favorite being his Mistborn trilogy. It’s set in the world of the Final Empire, a land where ash falls from the sky on a regular basis, ominous mists rule the night, and people known as Allomancers can use metals they ingest to perform various magical feats. We follow a group of thieves turned heroes as they attempt to overthrow the immortal emperor known as the Lord Ruler and save the world from destruction. A tyrant who has ruled for almost a thousand years, the Lord Ruler has turned the majority of the world’s population, known as skaa, into little more than slaves, while he and the noble elite live in luxury.
One of my favorite things about this series, and most of Sanderson’s books, is how unique the world and the magic system is, and especially the ways the author gives us a sense of the world without bogging down the plot with long paragraphs of text. As the primary example, the magic system in this series is very complicated, with a lot of rules and secrets. Rather than giving a huge info-dump, though, the author has us learn along with the main characters, revealing important things about the magic as the characters themselves learn them. In fact, several of the things we learn about the magic system in this series double as important plot points in the overarching storyline.
Another great thing about this series is how relatable the characters are. Yes, they are from a fantasy world that is pretty much nothing like ours. Yes, several of them have magical powers that you and I could never even dream of having. Yet, at their core, they are still people. They laugh, they fall in and out of love, they struggle with things like faith and acceptance and insecurity. Even before the end of the first book, they had captured my heart, and I had to keep reading to see where their stories went.
Speaking of where the story went, let’s just say that this series is a wild ride from start to finish. The books are pretty long—all well over 600 pages—but the plot will make you want to just keep turning the pages. With the first book having come out over 10 years ago, back in 2007, there is a pretty good chance you might not have heard of this series, but regardless of its age, if you like fantasy at all, you need to give this series a try. You won’t be disappointed.