A House of Ashes
If you follow at all the website, the podcast or our Twitter account, you must be aware that The Mistborn Adventure Game is one I am very, very keen on. The whole premise of the game is just very appealing, and the fact that it was written by Brendan Sanderson, it’s kind of all anyone should need to know the setting will be teeming with imagination.
When I interviewed Patrick Kapera and Alex Flagg for the podcast, my suspicions where confirmed and I became even more interested in the game. However there was a caveat. If you’re not familiar with the setting and Sanderson’s Mistborn novels, the game won’t make as much sense and it’ll be a bit more difficult to get into it. So they have come up with a solution. A companion novella.
A House of Ashes is a short work at 156 pages and the point of the novella is not to give you a fully fledged literary experience, but to introduce you to the Mistborn world. The bulk of the story is based around a minor noble house, which decides to move to Luthadel, capital of the Old Empire, to tray and make ends meet since their metal mines are not making much money. The Bylerum will meet the Urbain and the scheming will start. A very unsubtle dance of power, machinations, deviousness, selfish intentions and ruthless lack of ethics and morals will help introduce a deeply corrupt and unjust world where you have to be extremely clever to outwit the more experienced and powerful noble houses.
Amidst all of this, the Skaa, a race of servants and slaves, are caught up and treated as badly as you can imagine, subjugated by fear, ignorance and sheer power from the minor houses.
However, there is hope for the poor race of slaves. One only know as “The Survivor” has discovered that Skaa people with noble blood (as in ones with some noble relatives in their ancestry) can also use the inherit magic in the metals.
This is used by the author to provide with a detailed description of the magic system and what it does. How consuming metals by those who can process, or burn them, as is referred to in the book, will give incredible powers to the wielders. From becoming stronger and faster, to being able to see and hear better than anyone else, or ever call upon past versions of oneself to look more youthful and attractive.
Throughout the book one thing becomes very clear when is about magic… It is very, very flexible and imagination on how you use it will be one of the the key points that’ll make it more powerful in the player’s hands.
So did I like it?
Yes, very much so. Although in some places I got a bit lost, it was mainly because I am completely new to the world. Although I had heard of Sanderson and his reputation is indeed unquestionable, I had never read a Mistborn novel. The scheming is as devious as you can think of and it is ruthless… so much so it can be upsetting at times.
The author hasn’t wasted any time creating characters you will fall in love with. Although a couple of the nobles you will like and want to hear from again, most of them, even the ones that appear to be more sympathetic or “human”, will look despicable just by the way they treat the Skaa, who seem to live in a hopeless existence with no other purpose than to serve and to suffer.
The undertones of colonial America or the British empire are only too obvious, and they are used to great effect. The opulence, pride, ambitions, foolishness, division of classes between the countryside and the city-folk are the perfect instrument to highlight the differences between classes within the same classes, which are so close to our own reality they’re almost painful.
Overall this novella is the perfect introduction for what promises to be an incredible game. The setting is rich and the writing is absolutely fantastic. The details to the social strata of the classes is excellent, with elements like adding slang to different areas of the geography of the Old Empire. This makes Mistborn Adventure Game even more exciting, as the cooperation with the writer is likely to ensure those details and intricacies will be present in the final product.
Even if the brutality and blunt presentation of the action and actions of the characters make for a somewhat uncomfortable read in places (mainly because they’re too close to reality, or to what reality was to a lot of people), this is a terrific page turner and does the trick of leaving you wanting more and more.
If you haven’t been able to get your hands on this, don’t despair, it will be included in the game, so you will get to read it as soon as you have the final product in your hands. Well deserved four stars.
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