Whoah. I am blown away.
This hasn't happened to me in a long time. Epic fantasy has always been my favorite genre to read, but I'll be the first to admit that 99% of everything out there is just Tolkien ripoffs. Once you've read ten or so of them, there is nothing new for you out there. I still read them anyway, but I've stopped being impressed with them just because of their epicness. And no, that's not a word.
This is what I needed. This book, right here, is the perfect cure for fantasy-fatigue. It's unique. It's funny. It's full of amazing characters, breathtaking action, cliffhanger chapters . . . everything. It even pulls off a few stunts that normally would have me rolling my eyes and yawning, but it does them so well that at worst, I just shrug them off and read on. At best, I stare at the page blankly, shocked that I actually love this.
I don't know how to arrange the rest of this review so that I don't have spoilers. I'll try, but keep away if you don't want to stumble across anything spoilery.
First of all, the Allomancy. It was awesome. I've never read or heard about anything remotely like it. It made for some of the coolest powers, some of the greatest fight scenes, and some of the creepiest monsters of all time. Even the history behind it, though I don't fully understand it yet - I'll read the sequels and learn more - is deep and complex and generally amazing. Even the name is awesome. Allomancy. Allomancy. Allomancy. It's fun to say, isn't it?
Yeah, Allomancy is probably my new favorite brand of "magic".
Now I can rant about the plot. Usually, I don't like political books. I can handle a little politicking if it makes for a good story, but I keep the line pretty firm on how much I can read about and actually enjoy. This is one of those things that The Final Empire did that astounded me: it introduced several hundred pages of politics, and I wasn't bored for a single second. Every page was full of humor and action and mystery mixed in with the politics. If all authors could blend it in so perfectly, I'd never complain about this stuff in books again.
The history and the world-building in this book are just beautiful. The pacing is great, the story unfolds slowly but without wasting any time on stuff that doesn't advance it further. I'm resisting the urge to put spoilers in here, but let's just say every little twist in the plot was perfect. It's been too long since I read a book where I couldn't predict everything a hundred pages before the protagonist.
I have a problem with female protagonists in most literature. So often they're weak and silly. So often the author spends as much time (or more) praising them as he does actually making them praiseworthy. The main character in this book, Vin, isn't like that. She's tough and mean and distrustful and yeah, more than a little pigheaded. But she also grows and learns, and actually she becomes pretty intelligent. I was surprised at how much I liked her.
I liked all the characters, actually. How weird is that? Ham and Sazed and Breeze, Spook, Clubs, Elend, Kelsier.....
Kelsier. I need to rant for a second.
Kelsier is one of the best characters ever. Ever. I can't even describe how much I love this guy. He's a lot like Vin, actually, but he has a more complicated history and more ego, and a heck of a lot more humor. And he's always late. He's so priceless.....okay, fine. I need just this one spoiler.
All of the characters are so realistic. Even the side characters, those who have only a handful of dialogue lines, are somehow fleshed out into real people. It's unbelievable.
My only problem with this book - except for a couple of things about the ending, of course - is the romance. I'm not a romance fan. I'm really, really picky about what romance I read, and usually I just avoid it altogether if I can. So maybe I'm just being picky, and actually I shouldn't complain, because what book is perfect?
I've decided. I am just being picky, and this book doesn't deserve to have me write a word about it that isn't glowing praise. But I'm still going to complain.
I won't call it insta-love, exactly, but it was pretty darned close. Love at first sight is never, ever okay with me, and not only did one of the characters fall for it, but they both did. I don't care how long they danced around the point, it was practically love at first sight, and it irritated me. And now I'm irritated with myself, because I really like both characters who fell victim to it.
But aside from that, this book has it all. Awesome characters, humor, action, villains, originality, magic - everything. I'm going to go and force-feed this book to all of my friends now, so I can rave about it some more.