The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson (US, UK, Canada) completes the Mistborn Trilogy with a level of success that few conclusions provide. Essentially, every outstanding question gets answered, there are twists that are both easily anticipated and that come out of nowhere, bad things and death happen, yet the end is sufficiently happy to satisfy that innate need.
The Hero of Ages begins after a bit of time has passed since the events in The Well of Ascension. Without going into details that would spoil earlier books, things are bad – worse than they have ever been. Mists engulf the land, killing people, plants and animals. Volcanic ash covers the land deeper than ever before. The end of the very world is at hand and it looks like it cannot be stopped.
In my previous reviews of Mistborn: The Final Empire and The Well of Ascension I noted how interested I was in the religious aspect primarily present in the character of Sazad. I felt this plot was sadly underdeveloped. In The Hero of Ages, Sanderson finally lets loose and lets it dominate much of the book. Dead religions are re-visited, new religion questioned and Sazed searches for truth in religion and battles faith. While there are certainly strong Judeo-Christian aspects to the struggles of Sazad and the fate of the world, the real success comes with the universality of the human condition and the internal struggles of us all. What is explored lies at the root of humanity and all its religions, giving the exploration both depth and credibility.
As I indicated above, it’s not easy to end a series well, and The Hero of Ages ends better than most. Sanderson keeps it relatively simple with only 2 main story arcs – this brings about a strong focus that is lacking in many epic fantasy series these days. At the beginning of each chapter we see a short excerpt clearly written after events of the trilogy by an unnamed narrator – while the other two books of the series contained similar excerpts, these are more focused, more revealing and ultimately serve further closure of outstanding issues. In combination with the religious themes discussed above, the end of this series is as near to flawless as I’ve seen.
As with the previous books in the series, things like prose and characterization simply didn’t matter. I was totally sucked into the world and couldn’t put the book down. While The Hero of Ages started out a bit slowly, I had to keep going – as I read I would become totally oblivious to the world around me. This is what makes these books so good.
While part of me triumphs over completing another series, I also lament the passing of a great story. The Hero of Ages shows how well a series can end and has left me greatly satisfied. 9/10