Here we are for the long awaited return of Mistborn Monday, a series that kicked off in June ‘016 and has yet to see a new installment since August. If you would like to check those articles out here is the intro, followed by reviews on The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, Hero of Ages, Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, Bands of Mourning and finally a guest review of the series from my good friend Ericzor. Which leads us here for todays review of Mistborn: Secret History.
Warning: Due to the nature of reviewing a sequel there is a high chance of spoilers. This novella specifically is meant to be read after reading all six available Mistborn novels, thus is spoiler-iffic.
Twelve years in the making, Mistborn: Secret History was released exclusively as an eBook in January ‘016, through Brandon Sanderson’s creator owned publication company Dragonsteel Entertainment LLC. The story was released in good faith as to tide fans over through a temporary drought of major Cosmere novels, specifically Stormlight Archives. In November ‘016 the novella was re-published as part of the Cosmere short story collection Arcanum Unbounded. Gaining much positive attention from Sanderson fans for its introspective look inside some of Mistborn’s back story. It should be noted that Tor publishing mentions this as an unusual Sanderson story as it contains “less action and a lot more time-killing while waiting for action.” In the postscript, Sanderson goes on to say that he is unsure if there will be a sequel to this novella, but there is a story there to be told.
Secret History is a companion story to the events that take place in the original Mistborn trilogy. Picking up directly at the moment that Kelsier is killed by the Lord Ruler in Final Empire and concluding simultaneously with Hero of Ages. Upon Kelsier’s passing he meets Preservation who is there to assist souls as they move on to the spiritual realm. Kelsier, being true to character, refuses to move on, and insists on helping those still alive on Scadrial. Discovering a way to anchor himself to the world, with the unexpected side effect of imprisoning himself at the same time. Able to witness events on the living plane but unable to communicate with any one still alive, the story follows Kelsier as he does his best to assist his world and friends through what subtle manipulation is available to him. Kelsier being the only witness to the battle that took place between Preservation and Ruin.
An important point to make while reviewing this story would be the absolute uniqueness involved. Never before have I read a book that follows the story of such an epic fantasy from the perspective of a deceased main character. I do agree that this lacks the typical action filled imagery of Sanderson’s other works. However, the opportunity to witness major climaxes and plots through a larger perspective keeps interest levels high.
This novella is full of overwhelming moments and introspect. The first few lines were enough to blow my mind. In many discussions I have stated that my favorite action scene ever written was the lead up and death of Kelsier. The exact moment in which this story begins. For me, that was an instantly gratifying experience. The story is completed with some of the greatest scenes in the trilogy. With a couple bonus appearances from Hoid, where we get some behind the scenes on a confusing chapter from Hero of Ages, and, for the first time we see Hoid throw down and fight.
I have a delicate line to walk when rating this book. On one hand, I have a major investment to this series as a whole, and the unique nature of this novella is of the highest appeal. On the other, I need to look at the story on its own, and truth is it lacks the depth and story arc a book needs to stand by itself. But, does that matter if it is meant to be a companion? It is just an additional sub-plot meant to be read after the completion of the larger storyline. Therefore, I am going to give Mistborn: Secret History a 4/5. And, will recommend this as a must-read to anybody who has read the original Mistborn trilogy. The one of a kind novella is of the highest interest to any fan of the Cosmere.
Thanks booknerds, keep on burning that metal.