Book Review: The Hero of Ages
I've been spacing these out, but we're finally here--the conclusion to the first Mistborn trilogy! How does it hold up against its predecessors?
Some time has passed since the events of The Well of Ascension. Elend has consolidated his hold on the Central Dominance, and he and Vin are chasing a series of caches left behind by the Lord Ruler. Each one reveals a little more information and provides much needed supplies--because the world is definitely ending. Ruin, the entity released by Vin at the end of the previous novel, is on the hunt for the final piece of his power. If he finds it, it'll spell the end for everything.
Real talk: I think I actually enjoyed The Well of Ascension more. The grinding tension and the crucible it formed for great character development really made that novel appeal to me.
The Hero of Ages, on the other hand, feels bleak. The characters aren't really developing that much any more, except for Sazed (whose journey is...also bleak). Everything is falling apart, but the novel doesn't possess the same sense of urgency I got out of The Well of Ascension. Ruin is basically biding its time throughout, and then the novel speeds up to an insane pace toward the very end.
Not to mention the levels of stupidity exhibited by some of the characters. I love Spook, but he dances from Ruin's strings for the better part of this book. It's fairly obvious too, and if Spook bothered to talk about his experiences with some of the other characters, it would be hard to miss. Elend and Vin, meanwhile, go into their conflict in Fadrex City with more than a little hubris. Elend is Mistborn now too, and Vin has been practically untouchable for so long that they make silly assumptions and mistakes.
BUT despite these flaws, Sanderson writes a hell of a good ending. Ruin is a terrifying and yet still oddly sympathetic villain; he's a force of nature more than anything else, and his desire to destroy is simply a part of him. Vin goes out with a bang, and somehow I was not surprised by the true identity of the Hero. Let's just say that a certain character's exploration of religions pays off in a big way at the book's end.
This book also does an excellent job of answering the remaining Big Questions. Hemalurgy, the third magical art on Scadrial, is explored in great detail, and we learn the significance of Vin's earring (it's a hemalurgic spike!). TenSoon becomes a POV character, and through him we learn of kandra society, who and what they are, and their real purpose. The Lord Ruler, despite being deceased, gains further depth through the messages he left behind; turns out, he was doing his best to stave off Ruin (doesn't excuse all his sins, but he's less one dimensional). We learn of Ruin, our villain, but also of Preservation, who has been trying to help Vin and Elend throughout.
So at the end of the day, despite getting a little frustrated with the characters and their decisions, this is still an excellent conclusion to the first Mistborn trilogy. It answers your questions, there's a climax that will get your blood pumping, and the denouement has built under your nose the whole time. The last two hundred pages or so are really lovely, and exactly what I wanted. Overall, it wasn't as good as The Well of Ascension, but it's still a satisfying read.
Guess I've got to go find The Alloy of Law now!