The ‘Mistborn’ Trilogy Breakdown #1: For all the times we felt like Sazed
The following article contains Spoilers from the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.
DO NOT READ AHEAD IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS!
I just finished Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy a few weeks ago. I read the first book (The Final Empire) in June of 2020, during one of the first pandemic lockdowns, and of course, a dystopian future-themed book piqued my interest the most. However, after reading the first book in the trilogy, I had the impression that this one was different from the rest of the fiction novels. The trilogy’s putative anti-hero, the so-called tyrannic “Lord Ruler,” is beaten once and for all in the first book, which causes me to wonder — what’s left for the following two?
The Mistborn trilogy is unique in that no figure appears to have left my memory without leaving an impact. There are no sidekicks in Sanderson’s Final Empire; everyone, like in the real world, has a past and is learning to deal with it in some manner. The keeper named ‘Sazed’ was usually someone who drew my interest, from the very first book.
While reading, I had little to no idea why the story focused in and out of Sazed’s life. The Feruchemists are dreaded by the Lord Ruler who goes on to exterminate them from the population and breed them separately, as they are the most powerful next to the Lord Ruler, having the potential to overthrow him. This leads to all feruchemists becoming obsequious, going in hiding, and adopting the responsibility as keepers of the society, by storing all the knowledge of the world they could gain in their metal minds. However, Sazed is unique. He is an ardent keeper, to be sure, but the death of Twindyl during the fight of the Final Empire causes him to plunge into extended grief, during which he begins to question his accumulated knowledge of all the world’s religions. Sazed starts to re-study over 500 faiths on his own, investigating their beliefs and, eventually, contradictions to those beliefs that lead to them being labeled, by him, as false religions — all while the world is apparently ending outside. Vin and Elend, one of whom is also said to be the “Hero of the Ages” according to an old prophecy, are attempting to preserve the world, while the power of Ruin is attempting to do the reverse.
The finale, with Elend dying with his head severed and Vin using her last ounce of power to destroy Ruin before lying next to Elend’s lifeless body and counting her own last few breaths, is just… delightfully terrible! It’s surprising, but when you consider how the entire trilogy has been building up to this point, it’s guaranteed to give you chills. But wait, there’s more to the story: Ruin and Preservation finally have nothing to manifest as and appear as raw energies. This is when Sazed realizes his true purpose and has to make a choice whether to take up the power for good or not. Perhaps the same choice, the Lord Ruler had to take a thousand years ago.
Two Feruchemists, 1000 years apart, blessed with the powers of Preservation and Ruin. Despite his noble intentions, Rashek, a.k.a. Lord Ruler, is overwhelmed by this power and makes mistakes that he must live with and eventually die with. Sazed, on the other hand, doesn’t. All of the time that Sazed had spent in his life, accumulating knowledge of many cultures and religions in the pre-Final Empire era and debating its utility, had now come to bear its fruits. He restructured the universe using the knowledge he had gained from the many religions, using descriptions of followers and saints to understand how the world had previously been in harmony. He borrowed a little from each faith, giving the new world he created the proper amount of distance from the sun, as well as the true colors of flowers, trees, and the sky. He used his newfound knowledge to recreate the world from the ground up.
This ending was one of the best I had heard in a long time from a fiction series — all because it feels as if not only answered Sazed’s question but also every reader’s. After I read this book, I started drawing parallels between our world and the world in Final Empire. I, too, would wonder sometimes why there are so many religions and ethnicities in our world. What could have been the purpose of the Creator making so many different types of people with different schools of thought? Sanderson gives us a lovely explanation. The belief that all the people in the world with their cultures are just different colors that paint the most beautiful picture in the world — and that’s life as we know it! We might not believe that one will be incomplete without the other and the balance will be lost — maybe, tipping the power into Ruin’s hand instead of following Preservation’s plan.
This trilogy has a lot more to say than just this. I would love to break down the story and some characters and analyze them in some future posts. Till then, you could leave your thoughts behind in the comments about what you think and I promise, Ruin will not read it 😉