Friday, January 7, 2011

Book Review: The Hero Of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

I have spoiler-ized the description below so as not to spoil for those who haven't read the first book (swipe it to read)...but if you haven't yet read it I would recommend doing so first.

Vin, after taking the power of the Well of Ascension at the end of the previous book, released it into the world instead of saving Elend. 

Elend, however, survived by consuming a bead of metal which made him an extremely powerful Mistborn. However, the entirety of the Terrismen prophecies were shown to have been changed by the god, Ruin, to escape from the Well. Now Ruin has been released and is already beginning to destroy the world. 

The Lord Ruler, in his wisdom, created storage caches containing valuables such as food and water in cave complexes beneath certain cities, each one providing directions to the next. Even as Vin and Elend struggle from cache to cache, the world itself begins to crumble, ash spewing forth in greater quantities and the mists claiming more and more people. 

Will humans be enough to stop their own destruction?

When I finish a really good book, I close it up and put it down sighing “Man that was a good book!” I do this out loud, whether people are present or not. It’s actually better if there is no one around because then I know I needed to express my wonder aloud regardless of audience.

When I put down THE HERO OF AGES, final volume in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson I was by myself. I closed the book and put it down exclaiming aloud “Holy **** that was a GREAT book!”

I started the Mistborn series years ago after I became a fan of Sanderson with ELANTRIS (btw Brandon, we’d love to see more take place in that world sir!).  I rocked through the first book and loved it. It was a great inventive world, characters and magic system. It read like wildfire and would appease even the most discerning fantasy fan. The second book THE WELL OF ASCENSION, restarts things sort of. The world-building jumps in scale and the tone of the piece is a little different from the Heist/overthrow the Lord Ruler plotline from the first book. I’m not afraid to admit I had trouble with it the first time I sat down to read it. I put it down, and about a year later I came back to it and read it in a different mindset and succeeded. It was not quite the ride that the first book was, but it was awesome nonetheless with a few sizeable revelations that I enjoyed. It took this second try to bring me back to the Mistborn series. After this I had gone off and become a stalwart Sanderson fan when I read WARBREAKER and enjoyed it and then THE WAY OF KINGS came along to steal my best fantasy read of the year (and my first proper review here at Iceberg Ink!). THE HERO OF AGES went on my Christmas list months ago as I finally decided to finish the series.

To use an expression from the books, Lord Ruler! That was one hell of a read!

This third volume takes characters we know and love and adds even more depth and emotion to them. He also takes characters we didn’t like and adds SO much depth to them that he is once again able to modify our view of them and spin us 180.

I am literally in awe.

This book is for every other final volume in a trilogy that didn’t make it. This is for all those series that didn’t end how you wanted them to. This is for a story that is so heartfelt and powerful that just the telling of certain sections of it gave me gooseflesh. Once again we have the little pre-scripts before each chapter from someone’s writings and each one is told from the point of view from someone looking back over the whole of the affair. They know the outcome and how it all most of it relates. They are revealed in tantalizing little bits that push me on. Seriously, those little pre-scripts are almost as important to me in this series as the main text is.

Another thing that instantly stands out here in this volume. Elend commands here. Instead of the slightly impotent king of Luthadel he was in the second book, trying to be kind, even-handed and balanced he finally realizes that his world is dying. It requires not a king, it needs an emperor with a firm hand to force it into submission for its own good. From the outset in this book he is wholly believable in that role. His presence is tangible, and therefore he seems more evenly matched with Vin and her nature now too. Both characters benefit from this change. TenSoon and the Kandra storyline COULD have been (in another authors hands) boring, but here it is endlessly entertaining and mysterious. I loved reading every ounce of it. Then you have Spook’s storyline, and at first I wondered about it, as he didn’t start out doing too much and questioned himself a bit too much.  However, as it went on he started to embody and capture a little of the Kelsier personality, and his plotlines too became really interesting, not to mention heroic which was nice to see him grow into that. Marsh, poor Marsh. Marsh here is our window into the big baddie Ruin, and it’s a nice one. Sanderson is such an adept hand here that Marsh only stays in scene long enough to give you the little inklings you need about Ruin and his effect on the world and the nature of the third magic. That is hard to do, and Sanderson achieves it in spades.

The story never feels bogged down. In the middle there is a number of chapters where there is a bunch of exposition, and the characters spend some time discussing things but it wasn’t boring at all, and again it COULD have been. Nothing feels extra. You know how sometimes you read a book and think, man they could have left “that” out or “this” out and the story wouldn’t lose from it…well there is none of that here. I think this is where we can agree that this is why the pacing is so good in his books.

Somewhere around the middle of the book the pace shifts forward into light speed. You can hear the mechanical, standard race car gear shift go "KACHUNK!" I literally was only halfway done when I got home last night and I just couldn’t stop reading. I HAD to find out how it all ended up. The second half of this book should be called “How many revelations can you handle?” Seriously, every time something else was revealed to me I was like “No way! I had no idea!” The man is a sheer genius when it comes to red herrings and I bow to that skill. I love being surprised. Make no mistake, you will be surprised by the like 10 different revelations in the last half of the book. It was one thing after another, and after every revelation I’d sit there and think…sweet merciful crap…he set ALL these up in the first book and I had literally NO idea!

The Epilogue for this book is, for lack of a better world, amazing. It resolves things in such a great way and leaves you feeling not only content, but also happy.

I can’t express enough the love I have for this series, these characters and this world. There are only a few trilogies I would recommend to people on the whole. I feel that the Mistborn trilogy pretty much leads that pack.

I have only half of KNIFE OF DREAMS left before I get to dive into his two entries in the Wheel Of Time series and I can’t wait.

I also am VERY excited by the prospect of later this year getting to get back into the Mistborn world with the new novel set like 300 years later, and will have Allomantic Gunplay. Man I can’t wait.

1 comment:

  1. I've got to finish up this series. I really enjoyed Mistborn, and have read all of Sandersons other books, but for some reason haven't gotten around to finishing up this trilogy.



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