Mistborn: Secret History is a novella that Sanderson--the sneaky, secretive, beautiful son of a bitch--published alongside Bands of Mourning, and it was a wonderful, amazing, grand surprise for many of his fans. (I’d actually like to take this moment to give a quick shout out to my buddy, Patrick, not only because he reads all the crap I write, but also because he’s the one who let me know about Secret History.) And what exactly made this little novella so wonderful, grand, and amazing, you may ask? IT’S A COSMERE NOVELLA. Sanderson has finally, finally given us some solid answers in regard to Adonalsium. He also, of course, raises a whole bunch of other questions in the novella. But we’ll get to that. (Don’t know what the Cosmere or Adonalsium is? This review is probably not for you, then, because I’m not taking the time to explain it here.)
Before reading any further, please know that there are massive, MASSIVE spoilers ahead for the first Mistborn trilogy, as well as a bit of a spoiler for the pretty major reveal at the end of Bands of Mourning. Have you read the Mistborn books yet? No? Then stop right here, please. Seriously. Just knowing who the main character is in this secret history is a huge, huge spoiler, and I do not bother to keep that a secret because reviewing the book without discussing the main character would’ve been a tad too challenging. So go read BOTH Mistborn trilogies, then come back here, because literally the first sentence of my review below is spoilerific.
You have been warned. Extensively. And in big bolded letters.
There’s always another secret.
KELSIER FUCKING LIVES, YOU GUYS!!! KELSIER! KELSIERRRR!!!!!
Can we all please just take a moment to do a quick little happy dance? Kelsier, the survivor of the Pits Hathsin; Kelsier, the man who set all the events of Mistborn in motion; Kelsier, the man who embodied hope for an oppressed and beleaguered continent; Kelsier, the man who did the impossible and bested an Inquisitor, only to be violently struck down moments later by the Lord Ruler himself. Kelsier, the Survivor, actually survived.
And here I thought that all those Survivorists in the later books were totally loony toons.
Ok, right, I’m supposed to actually review this novella, not just fangirl over it. Mistborn: Secret History is told from the perspective of Kelsier after the Lord Ruler kills him. Well, mostly kills him. Kelsier transitions to the Cognitive Realm--the plane of existence between the Physical and Spiritual Realms--where he meets Preservation. Yunno, one of the gods of Scadrial. No big deal. Preservation appears to Kelsier in order to help him transition to the Spiritual Realm. Kelsier has other plans, though, and refuses to move on, much to the frustration of Preservation.
The novella spans over the course of the first Mistborn trilogy, and we see those events unfold from a completely new perspective. This isn’t just a rehash of the Mistborn trilogy from the Cognitive Realm, though. Oh no siree. Kelsier gets into his fair share of new adventures in his attempts to help Preservation in the struggle against Ruin. He runs into some world travelers who finally give us a few solid answers in regard to Adonalsium and how the Shards came to be. Hoid also, of course, makes an appearance, and his interaction with Kelsier is one of my favorite scenes in the book. Granted, I am extremely biased in that I tend to lose my shit whenever Hoid makes an appearance in a Cosmere novel. It’s a great story, and I love reading from Kelsier’s very fun, if sometimes rather reckless, perspective.
Sanderson did some solid character development with Kelsier in this novella, as well, and reminds the reader that Kelsier is very far from perfect. Though he’s always smiling, optimistic, and charismatic, there is a ruthlessness--a desire to fight, to destroy--in Kelsier that surfaces throughout the novella; Kelsier’s darker side, which was previously only really apparent in his attacks on the nobility, surfaces rather frequently in this story. This serves as a necessary reminder that Kelsier, the man who embodied hope for the skaa and inspired the Church of the Survivor, is in fact just a man, and a flawed one, at that.
Mistborn: Secret History is currently only available as an e-book, but will be released in print later this year (probably, there’s no set release date yet) as part of a collection of Cosmere short stories, so no worries if you don’t have an e-reader or are anti e-books, you’ll just have to wait a bit longer to feast your eyeballs on Secret History. Though really, you should just borrow an e-reader from a friend, because this novella is excellently written. It may be much shorter than Sanderson’s usual door-stoppers, but there’s solid character development, an exciting new setting, a very fast-paced plot, and some beautiful (and tear-jerker) scenes at the end. I honestly don’t think I have any complaints, aside from wishing for more. This novella is an absolute must-read for fans of the Mistborn trilogies and the Sanderson Cosmere.