This is a fantasy novel by Brandon Sanderson published in 2006, and boy is it awesome.
The worldbuilding and especially the magic system in the story are superb and unique.
This book is set in a post apocalyptic world that looks like it rode out a nuclear war. The sky is covered by grey clouds and the land is constantly pelted by ash rains, killing off crops and cutting off sunlight. In fact, the sun and green plants are distant memories for the poor souls who live in this world. The entire world is ruled by a nation known as the Final Empire, whose nobility practice a brand of magic known as Allomancy. This is basically the ability to manipulate metal, but it gives the user the ability to fire machine gun like barrages of projectiles or leap across rooftops matrix style via clever use of repelling and attracting forces of magnetism. As you can guess, the action scenes in the book are something to look forward to.
We learn that this world came about thanks to the being known as ‘The Lord Ruler’, who was actually the hero who was prophecised to save the world from some unspeakable evil. Well he did save the world, but after the deed was done he decided that he was owed for all the hard work and installed himself as the ruler of the world, after first conquering it of course. His empire is also not a nice place to live in, and that’s without factoring in the after-apocalypse setting. Caste system, secret police, this place has them all.
The book tells the story of a group of rebels who finally plan to bring down the evil empire and vanquish the Lord Ruler. This isn’t your usual rebel alliance however. These rebels are members of the local criminal underworld, and their marketable skills are sadly specialized. So they plan to take on the empire the only way they know how, by pulling a heist.
That’s right, this is a story about a band of heroes (debatable) who plan to vanquish an evil empire by doing a heist job. A heist movie set in a fantasy world. And it’s great.
The plot and the way Sanderson moves it along is also worthy of praise. The characters themselves don’t have the depth they should have for a setting like this, we only really see one character deeply, but they are well written and motivated by their own past actions. Besides, the fast paced plot itself more than makes up for the lack of character buildup.
There are plenty of plot twists, action, intrigue and budding romance to keep you hooked.
I highly recommend this book to any reader of fantasy, but especially to any reader who is tired of generic fantasy and wants to read a unique and different fantasy story.