The Book Barrio

A Blog for Fantasy and Romance Readers



Review: The Final Empire (Mistborn 1) by Brandon Sanderson


Genre: Fantasy


In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage – Allomancy, a magic of the metals.


I first discovered Brandon Sanderson from his Youtube Lectures on Creative Writing. I found his class very useful and practical for fantasy writers.

When I was browsing through my kindle, I saw the Mistborn series parked there and thought I’d give it a try.

The Final Empire is about an oppressive fantasy world, wherein the Skaa are treated as slaves. A band of thieves decide to take on the task of overthrowing the tyrannical rule of the Lord Ruler. Each of them has their own special ability that involves using metals to manipulate emotions, gather strength, push or pull on objects, etc.

About a third into the book, I began to realize that I’ve read it before. I recognized some scenes in the book, particularly the scenes involving a budding romance, which was maybe even less than 5% of the entire book. It wasn’t enough for me to recall the entire plot, magical laws, and politics. But something clicked and I just knew that it was something that I have already read before. The experience was both new and old.

I liked the premise of the book. I was fascinated with the character’s manipulation of different metals. I had to suspend my disbelief at some of the magical elements. My favorite parts are the plotting and scheming. I could not put the book down, the plot is fast paced and action packed.

My main criticism is that some of the characters lack depth in their relationships. (Here comes a slightly spoilery part.) I think that Vin and Elend’s relationship is too shallow. They need more time to develop a deeper bond to justify their declaration of love. Same goes for the band of thieves. They always talk about working together, being crazy and taking risks, but there isn’t much backstory to them. I never saw the reasons for the depth of their friendship, and what makes them loyal to each other.

I think this flaw is also what led me to forget about the story after I read it the first time. The Final Empire is not the kind of story that stays with the reader forever or leaves a big stamp in one’s mind. That’s how I felt after reading Harry Potter, and the Name of the Wind. And The Final Empire failed to do that for me. The characters in the Final Empire are not real enough to live beyond the pages of the book.

Nevertheless, it’s very fun and enjoyable. The world-building and magical laws alone make this book well worth the read.

Rating: 4 Stars

Link: Amazon


Review: Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade #2) by Jennifer Estep

Genre: Young Adult – Urban Fantasy


As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there’s no escaping the spotlight—or the danger.

Even though he’s my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what’s supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious “accidents,” it looks like someone will do anything to win—no matter who they hurt.

As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconi is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone’s going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing’s for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else…


Excellent and fun. This is book 2 to Jennifer Estep’s Black Blade series. For those who haven’t heard of this yet, book 1 can be found here.

The story is set in an urban setting wherein people have Talents or special abilities such as extra Strength, Sight, Speed, etc. The city is ruled by the Families that have most power. The heroine, Lila is now a part of the Sinclair family, as bodyguard to the heir apparent. And this time, there’s a tournament between the Families to see who the most skilled fighter is. Obviously, our heroine is chosen to compete.

It was such a fun read. I loved the action. The politics between the families provide sufficient intrigue. And not the mention the characters, Lila is so awesome and fierce, and her Transference and SoulSight powers kick ass. We also get to know more about the other characters, and even learn a few things about Lila’s mom. Lila also gains some potential allies for when she will one day take her revenge on the one who destroyed her family.

The writing is light, fast paced and very addictive. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book.

Rating: 4 stars

Amazon | Goodreads

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