Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
It took a couple of chapters to really suck me in, but once this book had a hold of me, it didn’t let go. Oh boy, I just couldn’t put this book down.
The first third of the novel was brilliant. It was like Oceans Eleven, meets Assassin’s Creed meets Tudor court intrigue; a combination of amazing things that I never knew I needed. And the banter! It was the characters that really pulled me in. Kelsier was rougish and mysterious, his band of merry men were a patchwork of tried and true (yet awesome) archetypes, and Vin… well, she grew on me. Which was good as I didn’t realise at first that she was really the main character of the story.
Now, I’m not normally one to rave about world building as it’s just not something that usually makes the great of an impact on me but dude, the world building in this novel was insane. The class system and the differences between the towns and plantations. I loved the atmosphere, as dreary as it was. The way the ash fell and coated everything, and the way in which the noblemen dealt with it so clearly differentiated them from the skaa. It was a seemingly familiar setting, but with huge differences from other fantasy series’ that I’ve read. I think this was mostly down to the history in the story, the mystery surrounding the Lord Ruler’s ascension and the centuries long crushing of the collective skaa spirit but the nonetheless persistent longing for something to unite them in rebellion.
After a few somewhat infodump-y scenes that read a bit like learning the controls of the latest Assassin’s Creed game, I quite got the hang of Allomancy (a refreshingly different take on the whole ‘magic powers’ thing) and the second part of the novel was well under way. And it was brilliant, but then again, I do love a good ‘undercover as a nobleman/woman’ trope. As for the whole love interest thing? It was nicely done but I don’t really see what she saw in him, other than the whole ‘unknowingly sympathetic to her cause’ thing. My favourite part about these scenes was the introduction of Sazed and all of his and Vin’s scenes. I need to know more about him!
And the ending? It was great. It was exactly what the story needed, and I’m glad that Sanderson didn’t shy away from it. That said, I feel like the story was always headed in that direction and to try to work around the inevitable would have been difficult. I have no idea what’s coming in the next two books, but I intend to find out.
It’s rare for me to find a book that I just can’t put down, especially one with over 600 pages. I’d keep telling myself, ‘just one more chapter’ but even once I’d put the book away, I soon found it in my hands again. I haven’t been this excited about continuing a series since reading Game of Thrones, so if you haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend you give it a go.