Review: The Hero of Ages

Posted 8 January, 2012 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Hero of Ages
By: Brandon Sanderson

Who is the Hero of Ages?

To end the Final Empire and restore freedom, Vin killed the Lord Ruler. But as a result, the Deepness—the lethal form of the ubiquitous mists—is back, along with increasingly heavy ashfalls and ever more powerful earthquakes. Humanity appears to be doomed.

Having escaped death at the climax of The Well of Ascension only by becoming a Mistborn himself, Emperor Elend Venture hopes to find clues left behind by the Lord Ruler that will allow him to save the world. Vin is consumed with guilt at having been tricked into releasing the mystic force known as Ruin from the Well. Ruin wants to end the world, and its near omniscience and ability to warp reality make stopping it seem impossible. She can’t even discuss it with Elend lest Ruin learn their plans!

The conclusion of the Mistborn trilogy fulfills all the promise of the first two books. Revelations abound, connections rooted in early chapters of the series click into place, and surprises, as satisfying as they are stunning, blossom like fireworks to dazzle and delight. It all leads up to a finale unmatched for originality and audacity that will leave readers rubbing their eyes in wonder, as if awaking from an amazing dream.

And here we are, at the end of all things (okay, I’m clearly referencing another fantasy series here, but it’s such an apt phrase to use here). It’s been quite a journey, from Mistborn to The Hero of Ages (even though it’s technically only been a week). Contains major spoilers!

So if I said that The Well of Ascension (my review) was intense, this book was even more intense! Considering that the world was ending, it made sense that things would be looking grim. Ash is spewing more and more, blanketing the world deeper and deeper in soot, lava spewing out, the mist is killing people. Elend and Vin are still struggling to bring the dominances together in a final effort to survive, while trying to figure out what the Lord Ruler’s original plans were to counter Ruin, who is relishing in the chaos, controlling the Inquisitors and messing with people’s heads. I won’t go into the details of all the various elements involved but suffice to say, the proportions were epic.

Revelations were indeed abound in this volume (especially given that a number of them were posed in the previous volume), though it took quite a long time before they started popping up and coming together. I can’t say whether this was a good thing or a bad thing; the overall structure of the novel made sense in terms of everything that happened–and a lot of things happened right up to the final moments–so I guess it was probably the frustrated reader in me wanting to know the answers that was thinking that things were coming up slowly. I did however wished that some of the political aftermath had toned down in this novel; I guess part of this feeling comes from the fact that for the first time the reader is actually quite removed from Luthadel for most of the action. And while I understand that the events in Urteau were important for the set up of Spook’s character development, events sometimes moved far too slowly for me to fully appreciate it.

I liked that Spook got more to do in this volume. Given that Clubs and Dockson had died in the last volume, he stepped up and play a major role. I wish we got to see more of Ham and a bit more of Breeze, especially towards the end, but again the focus on Spook at the end made sense: he was the future of their world and had a lot ahead of him. I also liked that the author explored a bit of the metal-dragging issue with him as well; we’ve seen Kelsier and Vin pewter-drag quite a bit in their efforts and we’ve seen Breeze soothe people without intention in book two so it made sense that Spook would be pushing his abilities with tin, especially with the events that happened in book two.

Vin and Elend’s story reached its conclusion in this volume. At this point, they’re practically legend and known wherever they went. Given the scale of the fight and how high the stakes were, I was prepared for the worst but I knew that they’d pull through somehow. Their first (and last) dance at Fadrex City should’ve been a warning to me, but I was too caught up at the cuteness of the moment to realise that this could be the last scene we’d see them together as happy and partly untouched by the events around them. I also enjoyed how Elend’s newfound Mistborn status enabled him to work with Vin moreso in scouting and fighting his enemies. But yes, by essentially saving the world through their acts and dying for it, they pretty much secured their roles as legends and heroes; not that they would have wanted such praise, but it brings their roles in their world to a full circle. That being said, I was rather devastated by their deaths anyways; I’ve grown very attached to all of the characters in this series and them dying was very sad. However, I’m glad that they both died, as opposed to one living and one dying because that would have been even worse IMO (and apparently the author commented about this). And like Sazed said, at least they can rest now. After all that they did for their world and the people they cared about, they deserved it.

As an aside, it didn’t hit me completely until this volume how their outfits were almost always opposite of each other: white and black. Equal and complimentary. It was a nice touch.

The outcome of Sazed’s journey was also an interesting one, if not long. Maybe it touches on some sentiments that grazed through my mind briefly before, maybe it cut too close to home (who knows?) but some of his chapters were a bit too slow and grim for my liking. But I guess that reinforces the fact that Sazed really comes true as one of the hearts of the series; as many of the characters mentioned, you could always rely on Sazed in hard times to find something hopeful or encouraging to say. Mopey Sazed was just too…weird. Not right. He lost the woman he loved in the previous novel, so it made sense that everything would seem so dark and lifeless to him, but no one, not one of his friends, could prod him out of it. So it made sense that at the end, all of his work, all of his knowledge and his experiences would bring him to that one moment. It was quite clever how that bit of the prophecy fell together and with Sazed’s persona and outlook on life, the future of this world is looking quite bright.

Overall, it was fantastic conclusion to the series. Despite of my mentioning of the story dragging here and there, I enjoyed the final journey with these characters as they faced the odds. It’s fantasy at its finest and Sanderson did a tremendous job in bringing all of the story threads together and coming up with this conclusion. It wasn’t a letdown at all, it didn’t lose steam towards the end, and the ending made sense. It’s definitely a trilogy worth checking out for fantasy fans.

Rating: ★★★★★

Edit: I forgot to mention — the descriptions of how the Steel Inquisitors were made? Creepiest stuff I’ve ever read, I think…by far! O_O

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2 Responses to “Review: The Hero of Ages”

  1. Hi. Norway calling. I found your blog searching for reviews of the Final Empire series. Which I loved. LOVED!
    Your review was really well written and it sums up my opinion as well. I love the plot, the charachters, the story, the way he writes about bigger things such as belief, doubt and trust – and Vin is the coolest protagonist Ive ever read about.
    I think Mr Sanderson suffers from the same illness as most fantasywriters: The lack of.. oh, I dont know the word in English. Well, anyway, he could cut down at least 100 pages, maybe even 200 – to tighten things a bit in the middle section. Why do all fantasywriters have to write books of such massive size? Well, anyway – thanks for sharing.
    From Norway.

    • Li

      A bit late on getting back to comments but hello from Canada! It’s always great to talk to fans of Brandon Sanderson (and from Norway too!); I always feel like he’s not as well-known as he should be (a la George RR Martin or something) because his stuff is fantastic.

      Same here, Vin is definitely up there as one of the most awesome protagonists I’ve ever read. Her character development throughout the trilogy has been fantastic and believable and the ending totally gutted me (it made sense, but I was still so sad for many of the characters at the end).

      I know what you mean; could ‘conciseness’ work in this case? I guess that’s how the fantasy genre works at the moment: by producing massive bricks for us to read =P

      Anyways, I’m glad you enjoyed my review of the series. Feel free to drop by my blog anytime =)

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