Vin doesn't think she's anything more than a slightly-luckier-than-average skaa -- essentially, a slave -- until she joins up with Kelsier, a charismatic thief and natural leader who's plotting the destruction of the Final Empire.
The only problem is that a tyrant -- the immortal Lord Ruler -- has governed the Final Empire with an iron fist for the last thousand years. It is from Kelsier that Vin learns that she is mistborn -- capable of superhuman feats. Kelsier offers Vin the opportunity to get out of the slums and become part of his chosen family.
The characters in this book are amazingly believable. Vin is an eminently sympathetic protagonist whose development over the course of the book is beautifully and realistically delineated. The system of magic is exceedingly clever and well integrated into the complex and plausible world that Vin and Kelsier inhabit. While this is the first in a series, it's an exceedingly satisfying book on its own, and fans of the genre should waste no time picking it up. (Jul., 544 pp., $27.95)