Book Review: The Hero of Ages – Mistborn #3 (Brandon Sanderson)

Sanderson draws his Mistborn trilogy to a truly epic close with The Hero of Ages, a book of massive length (nearly 600 pages of small type). Vin, the Heir of the Survivor, and her husband Elend, the Emperor of the former Final Empire, are searching out a series of hidden supply caches built by the Lord Ruler which they believe hold vital clues to defeating Ruin, the god-like being Vin unwittingly released from its eternal prison at the climax of the previous book, The Well of Ascension, which now rampages across the land, causing black ash to fall continuously from the sky and drawing close the end of the world and all things.

Flying in perfect Sanderson form, The Hero of Ages defies your assumptions and predictions, carefully and artfully subverting your expectations of the genre and of the story itself. The plot, which really spans all three volumes, is staggeringly complex and impressive in its attention to detail and forethought. Moreso than the others, The Hero of Ages is a book of secrets and revelations, a book of unveiling, and though you will span hundreds of pages without having any idea of what direction the story is taking, or why we focus on this or that, literally every element established in the beginning plays an important role in revealing the secrets of the world of the Final Empire.

In its resolution, the book veers dangerously close to dualism. Ruin, it is shown, is a god-like being that is locked in eternal struggle with another god-like being called Preservation, and so we get a bit of yin and yang, a bit of chaos and order, Apollo and Dionysus, though this to is in the end subverted and overcome as well. You will literally never be able to predict who the Hero of Ages is. I thought the book a bit overwritten, just like The Well of Ascension, but Hero of Ages at least maintains a steady pace where the entire middle three hundred pages of Ascension were filled with drab political wrangling and angsting relationship troubles with Vin. But it still could have done with a good trimming. There were a few unfulfilled story promises, particularly in the Spook storyline in Erteau, which skips the return of the water to the canals and the wonder of this event caused. All of that gets skipped, after at least a hundred pages of buildup and months of construction. The ease with which the Hero of Ages resolves the planetary problems at the story’s climax is also something of a let-down, though Vin’s lone duel with Marsh and the Inquisitors in Luthadel and the resolution with the mists greatly makes up for this. Nevertheless, the book is a simply spectacular read, sure to captivate you enough to keep you reading late into the night.

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