Mistborn: The Final Empire

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Mistborn: The Final Empire
First edition cover
Author Brandon Sanderson
Illustrator Isaac Stewart
Cover artist Jon Foster
Country United States
Language English
Series Mistborn
Genre Fantasy novel
Publisher Tor Books, Macmillan Audio
Publication date
July 17, 2006
Media type Print (hardcover, paperback and leatherbound), audiobook, e-book
Pages 541 pp (first edition, hardback), 24 hours
ISBN 0-7653-1178-X (first edition, hardback)
OCLC 62342185
813/.6 22
LC Class PS3619.A533 M57 2006
Followed by Mistborn: The Well of Ascension

Mistborn: The Final Empire, also known simply as Mistborn or The Final Empire, is a fantasy novel written by American author Brandon Sanderson. It was published on July 17, 2006 by Tor Books and is the first novel in the Mistborn trilogy, followed by The Well of Ascension in 2007 and The Hero of Ages in 2008.


Sanderson began work on the novel while trying to get his earlier novel Elantris published. After writing two early iterations, he shifted his focus to his The Stormlight Archive series, but chose to delay its publication in favor of completing the Mistborn series, as he thought it would serve as a better followup to Elantris.[1]



Mistborn: The Final Empire is set in an analog to the early 18th century, in the dystopian world of Scadrial, where ash constantly falls from the sky, all plants are brown, and supernatural mists cloud every night. One thousand years before the start of the novel, the prophesied Hero of Ages ascended to godhood at the Well of Ascension in order to repel the Deepness, a terror threatening the world whose true nature has been lost to time. Though the Deepness was successfully repelled and mankind saved, the world was changed into its current form by the Hero, who took the title "Lord Ruler" and ruled over the Final Empire for a thousand years, as an immortal tyrant and god. Under his rule, society is stratified into the nobility, believed to be the descendants of the friends who helped him achieve godhood; and brutally oppressed peasantry, known as skaa.

Magic is central to the Mistborn world. The most widely known discipline of magic is called Allomancy, which allows users to gain magical powers by swallowing and "burning" specific metals to gain supernatural abilities. Allomantic potential is a genetic trait concentrated in the nobility, though skaa Allomancers exist, due to crossbreeding between the nobility and the skaa. Normal Allomancers have access to one Allomantic power, but an incredibly rare subset of Allomancers, called Mistborn, have access to every Allomantic power.

Plot summary[edit]

Three years prior to the start of the novel, a half-skaa thief named Kelsier discovers that he is Mistborn and escapes the Pits of Hathsin, a brutal prison camp of the Lord Ruler. He returns to Luthadel, the capital city of the Final Empire, where he rounds up his old thieving crew for a new job: to overthrow the Final Empire by stealing its treasury and collapsing its economy.

At the beginning of the novel, the reader is introduced to Vin, a street urchin who is recruited by Kelsier's crew after Kelsier realizes that she is a Mistborn. She is trained by Kelsier's crew to develop her Allomantic powers, which include burning pewter to strengthen the body, burning tin to enhance the senses, and burning steel to gain a limited form of telekinesis over metal. She also spies on the nobility by attending opulent balls in Luthadel, where she poses as Valette Renoux, niece to Lord Renoux, a nobleman working with Kelsier's crew. During these balls, she meets and falls in love with Elend Venture, heir to House Venture, the most powerful of the Luthadel noble houses. Elend flouts the rules of nobility culture and secretly plans to build a better society with his noble friends, when they ascend to their respective houses.

Kelsier hopes to conquer the city by destabilizing it with a house war between the nobility and invading with a skaa army. Once in control, he hopes to overthrow the Final Empire by stealing the Lord Ruler's atium hoard, which is the cornerstone of the Final Empire's economy. The crew succeeds in starting a house war by assassinating several powerful nobles and recruiting about seven thousand soldiers to join their cause. However, about three quarters of the soldiers are slaughtered when one of the crew misguidedly uses the army to attack an unimportant Final Empire garrison. The remaining soldiers are smuggled into Luthadel. Unfortunately, Lord Renoux and his estate are seized and he is brought to be executed by the Canton of Inquisition, the police arm of the Final Empire. Though Kelsier's crew manage to free most of them, Kelsier is killed by the Lord Ruler himself, in a dramatic confrontation in Luthadel's city square. Though these events appear to leave Kelsier's plan in shambles, it is revealed that his real plan was to become a martyred symbol of hope for Luthadel's superstitious skaa population. The skaa population react to his death by rising and overthrowing the city, with the help of Kelsier's army.

Before his death, Kelsier had attempted to unlock the potential of the "Eleventh Metal" in his possession, which was rumored to be the Lord Ruler's weakness. He was unable to do so before his death, and left it to Vin to finish the job. With the Eleventh Metal, Vin goes to the imperial palace to kill the Lord Ruler. She is captured by the Canton of Inquisition and left in a cell to be tortured, but Sazed, her faithful servant, comes to her rescue. Using a magical discipline called Feruchemy, he helps Vin escape and recover her possessions. Vin fights the Lord Ruler, who is revealed to be both, an incredibly powerful Allomancer and a Feruchemist, the combination of which grants him incredible healing powers and eternal youth. Vin is almost destroyed by the Lord Ruler, but with hints from the Eleventh Metal and the unexpected help of the mists, she manages to separate the Lord Ruler from his Feruchemical bracelets that provide him with constant youth, causing him to age rapidly. With a spear to the heart, Vin kills the Lord Ruler, who with his last words ominously warns her of a greater evil. The Final Empire collapses, though Elend is able to avoid total anarchy by uniting Luthadel under a new system of government.


  • Vin: A street urchin who discovers that she is a Mistborn and joins Kelsier's crew.
  • Kelsier: A famous thief who made a fortune stealing from the nobility. He and his wife were caught and sent to the Pits of Hathsin, a notorious prison camp. No one returned from the pits. There, Kelsier witnessed his wife's death, which awakened his Mistborn powers and allowed him to escape. He inherits his wife's dream of overthrowing the Final Empire.
  • Lord Ruler: The immortal ruler and self proclaimed god of the Final Empire, who is said to have saved mankind a thousand years ago and remade the world into its current form.
  • Sazed: A Terrisman Keeper who can use the ancient art of Feruchemy, which allows him to store physical strength, time, and even knowledge in metal. He hopes to one day to share knowledge of the past (especially in regards to various religions that existed) with all people when the Final Empire has been overthrown.
  • Elend Venture: A nobleman and heir to House Venture, the most powerful house in Luthadel. He is one of the few nobles who wish for societal reform in the Final Empire. Vin was in his company at several balls where he insisted on reading in her presence, thus allowing her to realize he may sympathize with the Skaa.
  • Breeze: A member of Kelsier's crew and a Soother; someone who can soothe people's emotions by burning Brass, thus getting them to agree to his way of thinking, or sometimes getting them to do something for him (such as fetching a glass of wine.)
  • Hammond: Hammond, also known as Ham is one of Kelsier´s crewmembers. He is a Thug, and burns Pewter. He likes to debate philosophically, especially with Breeze who is extremely reluctant to get into debate with him. His main task was training “an army” at the caves for Kelsier’s plan.
  • Dockson: One of Kelsier´s crewmembers. Unlike the others, he does not have any Allomantic powers. Instead he is responsible for organizing the crew and taking care of contacting other crews for help.
  • Lestibournes or Spook: A member of Kelsier's crew and Clubs' nephew. The name "Spook" is given to him by Kelsier after finding Lestibournes too difficult to pronounce. He is a Tineye and the youngest member of the crew. Often spoke in a type of slang the others found difficult to understand.
  • Clubs is a Smoker (burning copper prevented other Mistborn from realizing when you were burning other metals, thus smoking or hiding the Mistborn who were burning metals), a carpenter, and owns a business where he and his employees use their copperclouds to protect Skaa Mistings from the Lord Ruler. He is also called Master Cladent. Spooks’ uncle.


Upon publication, Mistborn: The Final Empire was nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award for an Epic Fantasy Novel.[2]

A review in The Washington Post said "Sanderson's characters aren't particularly well-developed, and the allomancy sometimes feels a little like a video game trick (press X-Y-X-X to burn steel!). But he has created a fascinating world here, one that deserves a sequel."[3] Forbes magazine praised all of the books in the Mistborn series: "The narrative is crafted with such bloody precision, it's nearly impossible to put the books down."[4]



In January 2010, Brandon Sanderson optioned the rights to the Mistborn books to Paloppa Pictures LLC.[5] In Q1 of 2014, Paloppa Pictures' option ran out.[6] In October 2016, the rights to the entire Cosmere universe, including the Mistborn series, were licensed by DMG Entertainment.[7] In January 27, 2017, Deadline Hollywood reported that DMG signed F. Scott Frazier as the screenwriter for the adaptation of Mistborn: The Final Empire.[8]


An audiobook version was released in March 2011 by Macmillan Audio read by Michael Kramer. A 3-part GraphicAudio version of The Final Empire was released in February 1, 2014.


  1. ^ "Annotation Mistborn Second Title Page". brandonsanderson.com. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  2. ^ "Epic Fantasy Novel | RT Book Reviews". rtbookreviews.com. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  3. ^ Sklaroff, Sara (2006-07-30). "Science Fiction & Fantasy". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
  4. ^ Kain, Erik (2013-09-16). "'Mistborn' Review: A Fantasy Masterpiece". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
  5. ^ Brandon Sanderson (January 11, 2010). "Press Release: Mistborn Movie Option". Retrieved January 15, 2010.
  6. ^ Brandon Sanderson (February 21, 2014). "Mistborn Film Rights". Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  7. ^ Lang, Brent (October 27, 2016). "DMG Nabs Rights to Brandon Sanderson's 'Cosmere' Book Universe in Massive Deal (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  8. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (January 27, 2016). "DMG Entertainment Taps F Scott Frazier To Adapt 'Mistborn: The Final Empire'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  • Schroeder, Regina (2006-07-01). "Mistborn: The Final Empire; Review". Booklist. 102 (21): 43–44.
  • "Mistborn: The Final Empire; Review". Publishers Weekly. 253 (20): 53. 2006-05-15.

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