The Final Empire: By the Cover

Alright fellas, let’s put our thinking caps on! This one is gonna be a bit of a challenge!

So, I’ve been reading the second Mistborn book, The Well of Ascension. I’ll go into more detail of my feelings on it during my review, which should be going up a week or two after this analysis depending on my reading speed. But it got me thinking about a few things. Among them being the cover of the first book.

My thoughts go to strange places.

This is the cover I’m going with; if
you know a more interesting version,
let me know and I might get to it
another day

This is certainly one of the most interesting covers that I’ve analyzed so far. Upon first glance, you might not be able to glean much from it, especially if you haven’t read it yet. Who’s that girl with the broken glass? What’s up with those dudes at the bottom? Is she flying in the clouds? What’re those black tendril-looking things? What’s going on here?

It creates intrigue. Which is exactly what a good book cover should do. We’re off to a great start and you won’t even realize it upon first glance!

Let’s start with the obvious one. Front and center in this image is Vin herself. Being our protagonist, she should quite obviously be the one right in the center. But one detail that I really like is that she’s looking away from the viewer. She looks ahead, her features being hidden from us. This does a great job of characterizing Vin; she is mysterious and reclusive.

And given the glass dagger in her hand, likely very dangerous.

Next, the three dudes at the bottom. From the tattoos around their eyes, we can reasonably assume that they’re Obligaters, important antagonists in the story. They’re looking upwards, probably towards Vin, a look of blind (get it? Cause they look bling?) rage on their faces. This could tell us many things, mainly that Vin is going up against a powerful organization. Some kind of church? Society as a whole? Either way, Vin is one person going up against a large collection of people.

However, these guys are probably the worst part of the cover. They feel so completely out of place, like they were photoshopped in at the last second. They add a nice layer of depth, so I wouldn’t consider removing them. But they are visually jarring. Especially since the other two just kinda vanish behind the author’s name.

Now we come to the mist. This one is pretty obvious for those who’ve read the book. These are the Mists, which appears every night. Vin is surrounded by these mists, which could be seen as a slight hint as to her being the titular mistborn or a reference to her comfort in the mist. Either way, the mist is impossible to miss, making it very clear that they will be important.

The black tassels are likely the most confusing image upon first glance. But once you read it, it becomes pretty obvious. It’s Vin’s mistcloak. It doesn’t have very much meaning, but I do love how wild and chaotic it seems to flow. It gives off a sense of energy and unpredictability, which plays well into the abilities of a mistborn.

Alright, so that’s all the images. All of which are solid! But we’re not done yet! We still need to look at the color pallet!

It’s almost entirely made up of dark violet and various shades of yellow. The violet gives the cover a sense of darkness, hinting at many things. First: the tone; as Mistborn is a pretty dark book, it wouldn’t make sense for it to be bright and joyful. Second: it gives the illustration an appearance like night, which hints at when both Vin and the mists emerge.

The violet also makes the yellows of the mist stand out more. It gives the mists a sense of mystery and makes them stand out more. They truly feel alien, like they don’t belong in the image.

All in all, this is a super good cover. It has a ton of depth that draws new readers in and gives returning fans something to analyze. It’s a prime example of what a great cover should look like.

And the next covers are even better!

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