Mistborn: Secret History (2016) by Brandon Sanderson

A very interesting novella.

Structurally, this is a very unusual novel. I appreciate Brandon Sanderson playing with structure (in a genre where it’s typically so stale), though I have to say this is one of the rare times it didn’t fully work for me. The scenes individually work for me just fine, but the endpoint feels entirely arbitrary, presumably there to preserve further spoilers from the upcoming “The Lost Metal” or perhaps the modern-age Mistborn trilogy. The point where the book ends isn’t much of a conclusion to a character’s arc, it’s just an interesting moment, not quite a cliffhanger, but a promise of more interesting moments to come. I felt the novella more than justifies its existence, with some excellent scenes, brilliant worldbuilding, and some of the more bizarre and daring writing of Brandon. But in more than one way, it feels very incomplete. It very clearly cannot function as a standalone work for a reader unfamiliar with the original Mistborn trilogy, and in no way do I berudge it that, but the fact it doesn’t even tell a complete singular story of its own disappoints me.

Perhaps one day, maybe even after all the other Mistborn books (the space-age trilogy too if necessary) Brandon will release an “updated” version with more scenes, following the character to a more natural conclusion – or, hell, any conclusion at all – and I’ll judge that more fairly as a cohesive work of its own. But as it stands now, Mistborn: Secret History is a compelling, fascinating, bizarre, yet frustratingly incomplete work.

I give it three spikes, and a stolen bead.


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