As I was reading The Hero of Ages I suddenly became struck with the similarities between the Mistborn books and my favorite TV show, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. On the surface, it can be hard to miss. Mistborn is a fantasy set in a made-up world, and there are people who are able to draw powers from metals. Deep Space Nine is science fiction, set on a space station that is next to made-up worlds, but many characters come from Earth and none of them have special powers, though there are aliens who have unique abilities. And yet, I found some themes in both that I could not ignore the similarities between, and I feel that if you enjoyed them in one of these stories, you’ll enjoy them in the other.
Overall Character & Story Arcs
Before we get into the common themes, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that both Mistborn and DS9 have strong arcs for a wide variety of characters and for the story as a whole. Garak, who is in only 37 episodes of DS9, is a fan favorite who plays a significant role in the show. Nog, who is only in 47 episodes, starts off in DS9 as an annoying kid and ends up with a profound character arc, and there’s even an episode dedicated to him in the seventh season.
In a similar fashion, while the trilogy mostly focuses on Vin, Elend, and Sazed, and there are important secondaries such as Breeze, Ham, etc., and there are characters who are present in one or two of the previous books who go through big changes in the final book, such as TenSoon and Spook.
Religion/Religious Icons Theme
In both DS9 and Mistborn, there is a definite theme of religion and religious icons. Deep Space Nine focuses on the faith of the Bajorian people; we are introduced to leaders of their faith and see how different they can be from one another, and Sisko, an outsider, is revered as their “emissary,” a religious icon.
In Mistborn, all religion died under the Lord Ruler, save for his. After he is overthrown, the Church of the Survivor is born, turning characters into religious icons, and in the end of the trilogy, without giving away too much, I’ll just say we see this really manifest, in a way much like it did in the Deep Space Nine finale.
Shades of Gray, Particularly in War
Both DS9 and Mistborn also explore what it means to be a good man or woman, yet to have to also make tough decisions, to possibly kill, and to do things in war that you would normally not approve of. When I was reading The Hero of Ages and Elend struggled with decisions he made, I thought, wow, this is reminding me of In The Pale Moonlight. The season 6 episode of DS9 is one of my favorite in Star Trek, and I can’t imagine a fan of Mistborn not loving this episode, because it really explores the dark underbelly of the good guys.
Both of these endings will give you feels, both sad and sweet. They close some chapters but open up new beginnings and possibilities for many characters and really for the world the story is set in.
So seriously, if you’re a fan of one, you should really look into the other. They’re obviously different mediums, but both are fantastic stories. Deep Space Nine will not start off like Mistborn; it might even seem silly or just kind of OK to you at first, but I promise if you stick with it you’ll see all the things I’ve mentioned. And Mistborn is a slow burn of a book, taking its time to tell the story, but none of it feels unnecessary. Brandon Sanderson masterfully weaved together all the threads throughout the three books and leaves you without any confusion.
Are you a fan of one, or both, of these stories?