Welcome to the second discussion of Mistborn: The Final Empire, by Brandon Sanderson. Carl at Stainless Steel Dropping is hosting this group read. This week I had the privilege of providing the questions for the group. Please note that there will be spoilers in the discussion and in the comments. If you would like to follow all of the discussions please visit Carl’s page.
Without further ado, here are my answers:
1. The nobility, the skaa, and the Lord Ruler have integral roles in the novel and yet we haven’t really interacted with them much. Do you think there is a reason for this? Have you formed an opinion about them?
It seems like all three of these groups are elusive subjects that are talked about but they don’t really have a voice of their own. In the opening pages we were introduced to the skaa working for Lord Tresting and their lives did indeed seem miserable. Lord Tresting is not a nice guy by any stretch of the imagination. Are we to believe that all skaa are treated just as poorly?
The nobility, according to Kelsier, is a group that should be slaughtered since they support the Lord Ruler. However, when Vin attended her first party we get a glimpse inside their world. On the surface, I saw comparisons to southern plantation owners before the American Civil War. While their workers are slaving away making fortunes for their owners, the nobles are attending balls every night and living the high life. But then Vin meets Elend and I felt that Sanderson wanted us to see that not all of them are horrible like Lord Tresting. At one point Elend comments that he doesn’t like the House Venture since they are “an ostentatious lot, even for high nobility. They can’t just have a party, they have to throw the best party. Never mind that they run their servants ragged setting it up, then beat the poor things in retribution when the hall isn’t perfectly clean the next morning.” Elend does not fit Kelsier’s description to me.
The Lord Ruler fascinates me since so far we haven’t met him. Sometimes I wonder if he is like the man behind the curtain who doesn’t have any magical powers. Or is he a puppet and a group is controlling him?
I think Sanderson has a skillful way of formulating a story to get the reader to believe one thing and then all of a sudden he introduces a new element to throw the reader off the scent completely. For instance, a character like Elend. I think having these three groups on the periphery is not an accident. He is leading us, but I don’t know where yet. And that’s exciting.
2. Religion plays a vital role in the story. What is your opinion about the role of religion under the Lord Ruler? What do you think of Sazed’s role as a Keeper.
Having the Lord Ruler as God can be dangerous. Ham raises a valid point about their rebellion. He states that the Lord Ruler “defines what is good.” When the citizens go against his will they are committing not only acts of treason but evil. What if the Lord Ruler is evil himself? Can acts against him still be considered evil? Having a system of rule and religion that is controlled solely by one man, in my opinion is dangerous. What happens if that one person is evil? Or is insane? Who do you turn to? And I have to wonder why the Lord Ruler is destroying other religious beliefs. What is he so afraid of?
The Keepers raise a new issue in the story. According to Sazed, he has memorized 562 different religions to keep alive even though the present society is only allowed to worship the Lord Ruler. How did the Lord Ruler gain control? Sazed’s role and other Keepers are taking huge risks. The Lord Ruler fears them and wants to destroy them. This makes Sazed character more admirable to me. To actively seek and preserve knowledge that is forbidden by the ruler…well that’s pretty cool. Maybe it is the nerd in me.
3. Are you for/against/or ambivalent about Kelsier’s plan to overthrow the Lord Ruler? Do you think his heart is in the right place or is it just revenge?
I always like to cheer for the underdog. However, I feel like we have only been shown one side of the story. Kelsier’s brother Marsh had some harsh words about Kelsier and his motives. I found it interesting that Marsh was once active in the rebellion and Kelsier was too busy partying and making money. However, after Kelsier’s punishment he “saw” the way. Is Marsh correct in his accusation that Kelsier is using this plot to enrich himself? Or is he using it for pure revenge? Or is he arrogant and he wants to see if he can get away with it? Right now, I think it is a combination of all three plus he saw firsthand how the Lord Ruler can be cruel. And I find it interesting that most of the group who is participating isn’t really for or against it. When Ham asks Vin if they are in the right trying to overthrow the Lord Ruler her reply is, “Does it matter?” Then Breeze responds with, “Well answered.” Are all of them in it for a challenge? Don’t get me wrong, this makes for an interesting story. It kind of reminds me of the movie Ocean’s Eleven and the challenge of breaking into Terry Benedict’s vaults.
4. Vin and Kelsier are the main characters of the novel, yet there are many characters. Is there a certain character who intrigues you more than the others?
Sazed intrigues me, however I am drawn to the Soother Breeze. He’s snarky. I had to chuckle when he tries having a conversation with Vin and she ignores him completely. He says, “Ah…I’d almost forgotten what a fascinating conversationalist you are.” It isn’t just this quality that intrigues me. I can’t get a feel about where he really stands. At first, he wasn’t completely onboard with Kelsier’s plan. Is he only participating since he likes a challenge? Later on in the story, he doesn’t want to participate in Ham’s debate about whether or not they are committing evil, but he points out flaws in Ham’s argument without committing to a side. I like characters that are difficult to put my finger on. Maybe he has me under his powers so I’ll like him.
Next week the questions will be provided by Grace at Books Without Any Pictures. I’m excited to continue the story and to see what questions Grace will provide for us.
Please note that today is the last day of the London Book Fair. I will be able to respond to comments and visit other blogs on Thursday. I apologize for the delay. I am super excited to discuss this book. Sanderson is a wonderful storyteller.