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Brandon Sanderson – Mistborn: The Hero of Ages

November 10, 2008

140. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson (2008)
Mistborn, Book 3

Read my Review of:
– Book 1, The Final Empire
– Book 2, The Well of Ascension

Length: 572 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Started: 03 November 2008
Finished: 08 November 2008

The world is ending.
For real this time! Can Vin find
a way to stop it?

**I’ve tried not to give TOO much about the first two books away in my summary, but if you haven’t read them yet, be aware that this review does contain spoilers for the previous books.**

Summary: Immediately before Vin killed the god-tyrant Lord Ruler, he warned her that by doing so, she would doom the world to destruction. At the time, she may have shrugged it off, but now, it seems as though he may have been right. Earthquakes rock the land with increasing frequency; ash falls from the sky constantly, blanketing the land; the Inquisitors and the koloss, no longer controlled by the Lord Ruler, rampage through the land, pillaging and murdering; a mysterious force called Ruin surrounds them, bent on destroying the world, with the power to change what they write and hear what they say; the mists have begun to appear in daylight as well as night, limiting the ability of people to grow their own food – and, what’s worse, the mists have started killing people foolish enough to walk out into them. Elend holds his position as Emperor tenuously at best, unable to properly protect his people as he and Vin search for storage caches hidden by the Lord Ruler – caches that seem to have been prepared against exactly such a catastrophe as the end of the world, and caches that may hold clues that point the way to people’s only hope of survival.

Review: One of the main things that I loved most about the Mistborn series right from the get-go was how the system of magic was so original, but still so incredibly well-thought-out and internally consistent. After finishing the series, I still feel that way… times a thousand. The Hero of Ages is for the most part an incredibly satisfying conclusion to the series, but what impressed me most was how it brought together every element of the world, from big questions to tiny details, and wove them together into one cohesive whole. This is world-building at its finest, folks. Questions we’ve had since the beginning of the series – Who was the Lord Ruler really, and what happened to him at the Well of Ascension? Why are there Mistings and Mistborn, and where do they come from? What are the origins of the ashmounts and the mists? What gives the inquisitors their power? – all of these are answered, along with questions that I hadn’t even thought to ask. It’s clear that Sanderson was writing with a plan from the beginning, and even small, insignificant-seeming details were mapped out early on – because of course, they’re not insignificant at all.

Another fantastic thing about this series is how good Sanderson is at yanking the rug out from under his readers without making his plot-points seem gimmicky. Several times during The Hero of Ages, I would be reading along, thinking that I had a pretty good idea of what was going on and where the story was heading, when all of a sudden Sanderson pulls a hard left, changing not only the direction of the story, but also the understanding and interpretation of everything that has gone before. Pulling off those “Oh. OH! Whoa.” moments has got to be difficult for an author, but Sanderson does it repeatedly, and with flair (and, if I had to guess from the Alcatraz books, with more than a smidge of glee at wrong-footing his readers.)

All of that being said, though, I did have some problems with this book. First, the “Sanderson Avalanche” is present in full force – which is great for the second half of the book, but the first half started off kind of slow, without anything to really hook me in early on, and it took a few hundred pages to build up the necessary momentum to carry me through into the fast-paced exciting part. Secondly, I missed the really strong sense of character development from the previous books. Elend and Vin each have a few minor revelations, but their plotlines focused a lot more on action and a lot less on interpersonal interactions or introspection. We get to spend the most “quality” time with Spook, with the result that he emerges as the most surprisingly interesting character. To be fair, we also get to spend a fair amount of time with Sazed – but that’s actually the book’s major flaw. Sazed spends most of his screen time moping about religion, and faith, and his current lack of both. It’s heavy-handed, unnecessary, breaks up the flow of the novel, lacks Sanderson’s usual subtlety in plotting, and its resolution simultaneously feels preachy and unearned.

Recommendation: Overall, I really did enjoy this book. Even though it has some pacing problems, it’s still a very satisfying resolution to a wildly original and incredibly well-constructed fantasy series. 4 out of 5 stars.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Brandon Sanderson’s website

Other Reviews: OF Blog of the Fallen
Did I miss your review? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Marsh struggled to kill himself.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Taja permalink
    November 10, 2008 2:00 pm

    I just read the first two books in this trilogy and I really look forward to reading this one. Based on your review, it sounds like a good conclusion to the story. Now I just have to wait for it to be published in pb.

    Great review.

  2. November 11, 2008 10:28 am

    Taja – Does your library have it? That’s where I got mine – I very, very, very rarely buy hardcover books, since I have neither the money nor the space.

  3. Taja permalink
    November 13, 2008 11:01 am

    No, no library (I don’t live in the US). And like you, I don’t buy hardcover books, so I’ll just have to wait.

    By the way, I just saw the first sentence. Intriguing!

  4. November 13, 2008 11:10 am

    Taja – Do you bookmooch? You might get lucky and find a copy on there – I did!

    Amazon’s got the paperback coming out in late April ’09 (in the U.S., at least) – so not TOO long to wait!

  5. Taja permalink
    November 14, 2008 4:38 am

    April sounds good! Thanks.

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