25 Books Similar to Mistborn

This is an open empty book across a lake to a pine forest with autumn colors.

Brandon Sanderson’s highly heralded epic fantasy Mistborn trilogy was written like a chess game. While the magical and fantastical elements played center stage, readers appreciated the science embedded into the worldbuilding. Mistborn: The Final Empire, the first book in this modern classic, was published by Tor Books in 2006 and has won numerous awards.

The series begins with Kelsier, thief and natural leader of the enslaved Skaa, realizes he has the power of the Mistborn. Plotting to overthrow the Lord Ruler, he recruits others to his cause. But their success hinges on a ragged teenage girl, Vin. Her lack of trust is the operation’s Achilles’ heel.

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn, 1)

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Sanderson’s series’ complex twists and turns reveal a world full of grey morality, where there lacks a true good vs. evil, and even good intentions can have a devastating cause. Here are 25 books that have a similar flavor. Hands down, our favorite is N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy, but they are all worth your time.

Table of Contents

Wax and Wayne Trilogy

The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel (Mistborn, 4)

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  • Author: Brandon Sanderson
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Action & Adventure
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won a Whitney (2011) and a Neffy (2016)
  • Began: 2011
  • Books: 3 – The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, and The Bands of Mourning

Brandon Sanderson didn’t stop writing after the original Mistborn trilogy.  The Wax and Wayne trilogy is set 300 years after Kelsier and Vin’s tale and has a western feel. Now, even with science and technology’s rise, Allomancy and Feruchemy continue.

Readers enjoyed the return to Scandrial, although some did not feel it was as strong as the first three books. However, others celebrated Sanderson not falling into the stagnation trap and creating an evolving world. The series is highly rated on Goodreads and Amazon.

The Broken Earth Trilogy

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth Book 1)

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  • Author: N.K. Jemisin
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy, Dystopian, Action and Adventure
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, including a Hugo for each book in the series (2016-2018)
  • Began: 2015
  • Books: 3 – The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky

The Fifth Season opens with a season of ending, a murdered son, and a vengeful mother seeking out her missing daughter. In this dystopian Earth, Mother Nature has been harmed, and she is angry. Those that wield her power face a never-ending moral quandary.

Jemison’s trilogy is cleverly structured to be another literary chess game, where the lines are blurred between good and evil, right from wrong. There is a good reason this series won a Hugo three years in a row. The writing is gorgeous yet tight, laced with tension, intrigue, and excruciating compassion.

Lightbringer Series

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks (Aug 25 2010)

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  • Author: Brent Weeks
  • Genre: High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
  • Awards: Gemmell (2013)
  • First Book Published: 2010
  • Books: 5 – begins with The Black Prism

The Prism: able to split light and wield the magic of every color. There is only one, and Gavin Guile is that man. The most powerful person on the planet is Gavin Guile, and he is now a father with a son in a kingdom far, far away. But doing what is right may put everything at risk.

The unique and well-thought-out magic system and the plot twists are what attract Mistborn fans to this series. However, those hoping for women characters written to the standard of Vin will be disappointed.  

A Song of Ice and Fire Series (A Game of Thrones)

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

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  • Author: George R.R. Martin A Song of Ice and Fire Series (A Game of Thrones)
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Adventure
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, including multiple Locus awards and a World Fantasy Life Achievement
  • Began: 1996
  • Books: 5 published with two remaining – A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, with still to be published The Winds of Winter, and A Dream of Spring

“Winter is coming:” a kingdom’s future is at stake in a world where a season can last decades and lifetimes. A dragon prince vows to regain his throne, while others plot for their own gain. The series is full of backstabbing, treachery, conflict, and action.

A Game of Thrones rocketed to fame when it became a major TV series. If you haven’t read it, you probably know somebody who has. Like fans of Mistborn, readers enjoy the complicated twists and turns. However, while the TV series came to completion, frustration as high as readers wait for Martin to finish the final two books.

The First Law Trilogy

The Blade Itself (The First Law Trilogy, 1)

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  • Author: Joe Abercrombie
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won Locus (2015),
  • First Book Published: 2006
  • Books: 8 – begins with The Blade Itself

Logen Ninefingers is a down-on-his-luck barbarian. Nobleman Captain Jezal dan Luthar

is a selfish officer who’d rather pose than fight. Inquisitor Glokta is a friendless torturer. All three are about to have much more complicated lives thanks to Bayaz, an aging wizard. Blood is spilled, conspires drawn, men swear, drink, play cards, and even fence.

This is a character-driven grimdark fantasy that, despite the description, is a slow burn. However, the tale allows the reader to truly get to know these unique characters who can have humor despite the grim overtones. Fans also love the magic system and history in worldbuilding.

The Deed of Paksenarrion Series

Sheepfarmer's Daughter (Deed of Paksenarrion)

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  • Author: Elizabeth Moon
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Adventure
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won the Crook (1989)
  • Began: 1988
  • Books: 3 – Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold

Paksenarrion, aka Paks, joins the arm as an escape from farming life and marriage. Her journey as part of a mercenary company will lead her to adventures that will be retold in songs.

Paks appeals to readers who yearn for a heroine with the spunk and fearlessness of Vin. While magical details abound, including dwarves, elves, and gnomes, many felt the depiction of military life rang true.

Crossroads

Spirit Gate (Crossroads, Book 1)

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  • Author: Kate Elliott
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
  • Awards: Numerous nominations
  • First Book Published: 2006
  • Books: 3 – Spirit Gate, Shadow Gate, Traitors’ Gate


The world of the Hundred is ruled by the Guardians. But the gods’ authority is waning while the fanatics rise, merciless to all who resist. But a company of warriors is determined to try to stop the fanatics’ destruction.

This first book in this epic series goes deep into worldbuilding. Also, politics are key to the plot and action. This delights some readers and puts off others. This is an artfully painted journey where, like Mistborn, the plot unfolds throughout the trilogy.

The Wheel of Time Series

The Eye of the World: Book One of The Wheel of Time (Wheel of Time, 1)

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  • Author: Robert Jordan, completed posthumously by Brandon Sanderson
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Adventure
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won SFBC (1995, 1996)
  • Began: 1990
  • Books: 14 – begins with The Eye of the World

When Rand al’Thor and his friends’ farming community is attacked, they flee into a web of prophecy and legend in the Third Age. Intricate worldbuilding, lush descriptions, and unfolding multi-thread plots create a layered tale that has captivated readers for decades.

After Robert Jordan’s death, the series was unfinished, and Brandon Sanderson took up the mantel to complete it. Thus, fans of Mistborn can get their Sanderson to fix with this series, too.

The Black Magician Trilogy

Magicians' Guild

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  • Author: Trudi Canavan
  • Genre: High Fantasy, Young Adult
  • Awards: Aurealis (2009)
  • Began: 2001
  • Books: 3 – The Magicians’ Guild, The Novice, The High Lord, and then later a prequel was added, The Magician’s Apprentice

The magicians of Imardin are untouchable. Each year they rid the streets of the undesirables. But this year, Sonea, a mere girl from the slums, hurdles a rock that manages to penetrate the magicians’ shield, knocking one unconscious. The guild’s worst fear has arrived: an untrained person has access to raw magical power.

Sonea will appeal to fans of Vin and have sympathy for Sonea’s mistrust. Mistborn readers will appreciate the themes of classism and corruption.  

An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes

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  • Author: Sabaa Tahir
  • Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia
  • Awards: Nominations
  • First Book Published: 2015
  • Books: 4 – begins with An Ember in the Ashes

In the harsh world of the Martial Empire, there is a slave Laia. When her brother is arrested, she makes a deal with the rebels in exchange for their help in orchestrating a rescue. In her new role as a spy, she joins the Empire’s military academy. There she meets Elias, an elite soldier growing disillusioned with the laws his actions enforce. Both have no idea that their trials have only just begun.

Another series with oppression as a central theme and two main characters with seemingly little power must rise above what they ever dreamed possible. Fans enjoy the plot, placing, and the Empire’s ancient Roman touches.

Gentleman Bastard Series

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gollancz)

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  • Author: Scott Lynch
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy, Action
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won a BFA (2007)
  • Began: 2006
  • Books, 3 currently – The Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas Under Red Skies, The Republic of Thieves

Locke Lamora, an orphan, manages to escape the clutches of death and slavery and grows into a gifted thief and member of the Gentleman Bastards. But his entire world comes under threat. He is forced to take on the shadowy figure or lose all that he holds dear.

Locke Lamora is a flawed character in an imperfect world, much like Mistborn. The two series are very different, but both have the scrappy make-do resilience that so many readers enjoy. 

The Farseer Trilogy

Assassin's Apprentice (The Illustrated Edition): The Farseer Trilogy Book 1

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  • Author: Robin Hobb
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
  • Awards: Numerous nominations
  • Books: 3 – Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin’s Quest

Royal bastard Fitz relies on his Wit, a magical link with animals, for companionship. Drawn into the Royal household, he begins training as an assassin. Fitz’s new occupation will take him on a challenging path where choices come with consequences.

The rich, unforgettable characters and bleak overtones of The Farseer Trilogy will appeal to Mistborn fans who crave depth and grit to their tales.

When the Sea is Rising Red

When the Sea is Rising Red

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  • Author: Cat Hellisen
  • Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian
  • Awards: None found for this book,
  • First Book Published: 2012
  • Books: First of the Oreyn Series

Privileged yet oppressed seventeen-year-old Felicita stages her own death after her best friend kills herself in order to flee an arranged marriage. Felicita is plunged into the slums and finds work as a dishwasher when she meets Dash, a member of the rebellion, and Jannik, whose mother ranks high in vampire society. Her ability to channel magic limited to the upper class could give the rebellion the edge it needs.

This is a nuanced story that delves into class and how people use each other, be it for noble causes or personal gain. The magic system is not as scientifically hammered out as Sanderson’s, but the ethical quandaries and complex questions that come with planning an uprising will be familiar themes. The fantasy elements add both beauty and brutal edge to this unique world.  

Graceling Realm Series

Graceling

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  • Author: Kristin Cashore
  • Genre: High Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won Mythopoeic (2009)
  • Began: 2008
  • Books: 4 currently – Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue, Winterkeep

Kasta is a Graceling, an assassin for the king with a rare ability to kill anyone with her bare hands. She falls in love with Prince Po, and their journey uncovers secrets that could destroy the seven kingdoms.

Sanderson’s fans will appreciate Graceling’s unique approach to magic. Also, there is a kick-ass heroine who has no desire for marriage.

The Poppy War

The Poppy War: A Novel (The Poppy War, 1)

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  • Author: R. F. Kuang
  • Genre: High Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
  • Awards: Crook (2019), Hugo Finalist (2021)
  • First Book Published: 2018
  • Books: 3 – The Poppy War, The Dragon Republic, The Burning God

Rin, a war orphan, surprises everyone when she passes the Empire-wide test and is enrolled in the elite military school Sinegard. But her escape out of servitude and poverty is not easy, especially being both dark-skinned and a girl. Nonetheless, she persists, discovering she has a gift for shamanism. But as war arrives, Rin’s powers may be the only way to save her people, but she fears the cost will be her very self.

This highly acclaimed tale is described as a coming-of-age grimdark military fantasy. It is another with a poor orphan rising up due to talent that everyone’s fate soon will depend on. The worldbuilding is highly praised, and many also enjoy that Rin’s gift comes after she’s pulled herself out of poverty with sheer hard work and determination.

Powder Mage Trilogy

Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage Trilogy, 1)

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  • Author: Brian McClellan
  • Genre: High Fantasy, Action
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won a Gemmell Award (2014)
  • Began: 2013
  • Books: 3 – Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign, The Autumn Republic

Inspired by the French Revolution, the series opens with Field Marshal Tamas overthrowing the kind and bringing power back to the people. But, unfortunately, Tamas’ fight has only just begun, as war with the Nine Nations begins.

The chances are good that Mistborn fans will enjoy the series, as the first book had a shout-out from Brandon Sanderson himself: “Just plain awesome.” Set in a land that blends magic with gunpowder, the worldbuilding is intriguing, too.

The Burning

The Rage of Dragons (The Burning, 1)

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  • Author: Evan Winter
  • Genre: High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
  • Awards: Winner of the Reddit Fantasy Award for Best Debut (2019)
  • First Book Published: 2017
  • Books: 4 –  begins with The Rage of Dragons

Tau is getting out of the never-ending war. All he needs to do is get injured, be released from the military, and settle down with a wife and family. But his plans are shattered after everyone he holds dear is murdered. Unable to focus on anything other than revenge, Tau commits himself to a path that will be plagued with demons and violence.

This epic tale of revenge is full of twists and trials taking place in a fairly unique fantasy setting. The story moves at a page-turning pace. Also, the author is a fan of Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, and Joe Abercrombie, so Mistborn fans are sure to find a comfortable home within the prose of this series.

Inheritance Trilogy

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

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  • Author: N.K. Jemisin
  • Genre: High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won Locus (2011)
  • Began: 2010
  • Series: 3 – The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdoms, The Kingdom of Gods

Yeine Darr has always lived in the north, far from the center of politics. But she is summoned to Sky after her mother’s death and named heiress to the king. Caught in a foreign world, she struggles to fit in and learn whom she can trust. For in the city of Sky, even the gods lurking within the walls have their own agenda.

This earlier series of Jemisin’s showcases her gorgeous gift for prose and complex characters. The politics, including the caste system, will be familiar territory for Mistborn readers. The grey lines between right and wrong will also appeal.

The Legacy of the Mercenary Kings Series

The Kingdom of Liars: A Novel (1) (The Legacy of the Mercenary King)

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  • Author: Nick Martell
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2020
  • Books: 2 – The Kingdom of Liars, The Two-Faced Queen

The sins of the father brand Michael as a traitor, condemning him and his sister to a hard life. But an opportunity comes for Michael to re-join court, but it is through a politically dangerous position. He takes it, only to uncover secrets that put him and his family’s lives at risk.

Fans enjoy the magical elements of this politically-driven fantasy which is intertwined with mystery. Interestingly, in this tale, magic comes with a cost; much like the talent in McCaffrey’s Crystal Singer, it chips away at your memory.

Red Rising Saga

Red Rising

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  • Author: Pierce Brown
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Young Adult
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won Goodreads (2014, 2015, 2016)
  • Began: 2014
  • Books: 6 – begins with Red Rising, the sixth is still in progress.

Darrow is part of Red, the lowest caste on Mars. When he uncovers deep betrayal towards his people, he is willing to do anything to bring down those who’ve done him and his caste wrong. But “anything” may require him to become exactly one of those he loathes.

While the Red Rising Saga is not Epic Fantasy, the political landscape echoes Mistborn’s as well as the themes of rising against oppression. Fans loved cheering for Darrow, a sympathetic and imperfect underdog, especially during the brutal action scenes.

Poison War Series

City of Lies: A Poison War Novel (The Poison Wars, 1)

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  • Author: Sam Hawke
  • Genre: High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
  • Awards: Aurealis (2018), Two Ditmar Awards (2019), Hemming (2019)
  • First Book Published: 2018
  • Books: 2 – City of Lies, Hollow Empire

“I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me,” writes Hawke in this award-winning series. Jovan is the Chancellor’s charming friend. Jovan is also secretly the Chancellor’s assassin, protecting his family from those that wish them ill. But when the Chancellor and Jovan’s uncle are killed, it is up to Jovan to solve the mystery.

This is not a fantasy saturated in magic. This is a murder mystery with assassins. But there are politics and a class system in a unique fantasy world.

Middlegame

Middlegame

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  • Author: Seanan McGuire
  • Genre: Fantasy, Time Travel
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won Locus (2020)
  • Began: 2019
  • Books: 1 – Middlegame, however there is hope for a sequel in 2022.

Roger has a gift for words and languages, with a deep understanding of the power of story. Dodger, his twin, has a gift for mathematics, seemingly to breathe numbers. The two must survive. The two must die. The two must become gods. The two must never obtain power.

Middlegame is a gorgeous tale told in layered timelines. The novel is very different to Mistborn, but fans may enjoy how the plot is a chess game played through time. The main characters also pull readers into a quandary that Mistborn fans can appreciate, as the twins’ success may be the bringer of doom.

The Licanius Trilogy

The Shadow of What Was Lost (The Licanius Trilogy) by James Islington(2014-05-29)

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  • Author: James Islington
  • Genre: High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
  • Awards: None found
  • First Book Published: 2014
  • Books: 3 – The Shadow of What Was Lost, An Echo of Things to Come, The Light of All That Falls

Davian is a student of the Gifted and not a good one. The life that will await should he fail is not a good one. But everything changes when Davian discovers he can wield the forbidden power of the Augurs.

Fans of Islington say they struggle to remember that Sanderson didn’t write this series. Hard to get a stronger recommendation for Mistborn fans than that.

Malazan Book of the Fallen Series

Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 1)

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  • Author: Steven Erikson
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
  • Awards: Numerous nominations
  • Began: 1999
  • Books: 10 – begins with Gardens of the Moon

The Malazan Empire’s discontent grows when Empress Laseen takes over after Emperor Kellenved’s demise. The “Claw” assassins enforce their Empress’ bidding, setting their sights on annexing Pale and Darujhistan, the last of the free cities.

This epic series contains numerous plot threads and characters, giving Mistborn fans plenty to sink their teeth. In addition, the worldbuilding is supported by Erikson’s experience as an anthropologist and archaeologist, giving the series breadth and depth.

The Kingkiller Chronicle

The Name of the Wind

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  • Author: Patrick Rothfuss
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
  • Awards: Numerous nominations, won Quill (2007) and Gemmell Award (2012)
  • Began: 2007
  • Books: 2 – The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear, with fans still waiting for The Doors of Stone

Kvothe, gifted in magic and music, grows up to be a notorious man of many names. He relays his story to the chronicler for history, beginning with his childhood years as an urchin to his current life as an innkeeper.

This book is known to most fans of Mistborn already, and laughably, even George R.R. Martin is rumored to be eagerly awaiting the final book. The writing is praised for its beauty and craftsmanship. This series is not action-packed but an intriguing well-spun yarn of a life lived wide. 

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