The Hero of Ages is the third and final installment in Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy, the Mistborn trilogy. This book follows Vin and the crew as they attempt to stave off the end of the world, and brings together loose ends regarding the prophecies of the Hero of Ages, the power Vin found at the Well of Ascension, and the mysteries of what the Lord Ruler did and why. It’s a stunning conclusion involving magic, magical creatures, and gods. The only thing that could possibly make this fantasy any more fantastical is dragons.
You can find my review of Book One, The Final Empire, here, and my review of Book Two, The Well of Ascension, here. In this post, I’ll discuss my thoughts not only on The Hero of Ages as a single book, but as the Mistborn trilogy as a whole.
I simply had to jump into reading The Hero of Ages pretty much as soon as I finished reading The Well of Ascension, because there were so many unanswered questions. It did feel a little odd to start with, as there’s a year’s gap in between the end of Book Two and the beginning of Book Three, so jumping straight from one to the other was a little disorientating. It took me a few chapters to work out what was going on, and what had happened during the time skipped.
This book moves faster than The Well of Ascension; it starts off with a battle scene, and the tension only grows from there. We skip between different characters’ perspectives more in this book than in previous books – mostly Vin, Elend, Sazed, and Spook, but also Marsh, TenSoon, and Breeze – which also means skipping between multiple plotlines, which keeps things interesting and keeps things moving along nicely. Though my favourite viewpoint character changed throughout the book as I grew more invested in one plotline or another, I particularly liked TenSoon’s scenes for the insights they gave on the kandra – if you liked the amount we learned about kandra in The Well of Ascension, you’ll be amazed at how much we learn about them in The Hero of Ages!
My one other complaint – not really a complaint, as such, more of a niggle – was with the romantic relationships. Sanderson seems to do well at small tender moments, which work well with a long-established romance like Vin’s and Elend’s, or with something more subtle like Sazed’s and Tindwyl’s connection. However, it comes across more like insta-love with newly-established, secondary-character relationships such as the “romances” involving Breeze, Spook, and Demoux.
In both of the previous two books, each chapter was preceded by a passage from a historical text from the Mistborn world. In Book One, it was a logbook written by the presumed Hero of Ages from a thousand years ago, and in Book Two, it was an account written by the man who first proclaimed the logbook author as the Hero of Ages, only to later change his mind. In The Hero of Ages, however, the passages were not from any historical text; instead, they were written in the future, at the end of the book, by the true Hero of Ages, as they discuss various matters from past events to the intricacies of the magic systems, things which they have learned upon becoming the Hero. All this information could sometimes be confusing, but mostly it was very enlightening.
And of course, as well as being enlightened by all the explanations, I read these passages furiously looking for clues as to who, of all the known characters, the Hero of Ages was, which I found rather fascinating. It didn’t take me too long to work it out, however as this character was unlikely to be the Hero of Ages and I couldn’t possibly imagine what would happen to make them the Hero, the reveal at the end was still just as satisfying – perhaps even more so because it suddenly all made sense (and because I had gloating rights over working out the Hero’s identity).
Speaking of endings, I was a little worried that this ending would be a let down. These books have been so epic, growing grander and grander in scale with each book, that I wasn’t sure the ending would live up to it all.
Luckily, I was wrong. Very wrong.
Sanderson managed, somehow, to write a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching ending that was still satisfying and… well, happy. You’ll just have to read it to find out what I mean by that. It was even more epic than I could have imagined, and felt far more right than I expected it to – not forced, not contrived, just right. It pushed the characters to their absolute limits, but gave them no second chances for if they passed those limits. And it was a perfect, well-rounded conclusion that tied off pretty much all loose ends.
I came out of reading this book feeling like my mind had expanded.
Overall, the Mistborn trilogy was an exciting and emotional journey, with fascinating worldbuilding and deep characters that are easy to connect to and hard to let go of. I can only imagine that it took an inordinate amount of careful thought and planning to create the magic systems, to perfect all the twists and turns of the plot, and to orchestrate everything coming together so neatly at the end – and for that, as a fellow writer, I have nothing but admiration for Brandon Sanderson.
I loved watching the characters grow, and learning about their world as they did, and working out how all the mythology worked together. Of course, like all things, it has its faults, and there are parts of the first two books which will never make sense unless you read the final book, but I would definitely say the wait to find out the truth is worth it. The Hero of Ages is without a doubt the best book of the trilogy – but then again, I did finish each of the first two books and think “how on earth will the next book beat THAT?”
So, in case you haven’t worked it out already, the Mistborn trilogy is a new favourite of mine and is going straight on my list of must-read fantasy books that I’m going to recommend to everyone. It has action (so much action), intrigue, mystery, magic, romance, comedy, and a certain excitement that I think comes from mixing them all together to make the wondrous thing that is the Mistborn trilogy.
Not to set your expectations too high or anything.
I definitely plan on reading more of Sanderson’s work in the future, though if it’s going to be as grand and mind-blowing as the Mistborn trilogy turned out to be, I think I’m going to give myself a break while I recover from this book. There’s also a sequel trilogy, set three hundred years after the original Mistborn trilogy, which I would definitely be interested in reading eventually – as soon as I accept that I will be reading a Mistborn book that will not heavily feature all my favourite characters and will be set in a world much changed from the one I’ve come to know.
What did you think of The Hero of Ages and the Mistborn trilogy?
Next on my to-read list is The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, so you can look out for my review of that in a couple of weeks!