01/02/2011. Contributed by Ewan Angus
The Hero Of Ages (Mistborn Trilogy book 3) by Brandon Sanderson. pub: TOR/Forge. 572 page hardback. Price: $27.95 (US), $30.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-1689-9).
check out websites: www.tor-forge.com and www.brandonsanderson.com
The ‘Mistborn Trilogy’ to me has been a lesson in deconstruction of the labelled stereotype. Sanderson has taken apart high fantasy and re-made and shot it with adrenalin. He’s given us something new and enthralling. So in the final book in the first trilogy, he wraps things up admirably.
The novel again follows Vin, the street thief turned noblewoman turned empress, as she tries to right the wrongs she caused at the end of the second novel, ‘The Well Of Ascension’. Following on one year after, ‘The Hero Of Ages’ tells the story of how Vin and her remaining companions are struggling with their allotted tasks of saving the world and, more importantly, governing its people. The volcanoes that plague the land have continued to spew forth ash and the world is covered in a filthy blanket, killing crops, people and places. This is tempered by Vin believing that the god she released at the end of the second novel, an omnipresent force named Ruin, is attempting to bring about the end of days. In turn, the Emperor and Vin’s husband, Elend, has to deal with conquering the rest of the lands in order to ensure their safety.
Herein lies the novel’s ultimate success, its portrayal of the hypocrisy of leadership. It deals with, in drowning depth, the problems that face those who govern and how easy it is to fail at tasks that may dwarf you in their importance. It gives a lot of the page count to this theory, on top of the theme of identity in relation to station and job. It also stakes a rather poignant question about the reliance upon religion and the question of what faith is. It toys with its characters, making them part of religious doctrine and weighing them down with the subsequent reverence and responsibilities. The novel can be read as a straight up fantasy novel however and the above political theory adds to this, but it does suffer from going too far.
Of course, the talk of gods and the build-up of such a plot point has been boiling since the first novel, however I feel that the end of the novel, whilst not in anyway terrible or distracting, merely felt too…big. It got into territory that overshadows the brilliant realism that the series has prided itself on. Yes, it’s a fantasy novel and realism might not be the biggest concern but to me it was a massively important part and one that I found so refreshing and interesting. The magic system is still brilliant, being added to again.
Regardless of my slight displeasure at the handling of some plot points, I was still massively impressed with how the pace quickens towards the end, tying together loose ends and throwing in a good few startling twists that added to the reading experience. It maintained its cheeky humour and brilliant slights of hand that made the other two so special.
If the first novel was local, the sequel national then this one skips over international and goes to universal due to the size it encompasses.
There is a good deal more race-building in ‘The Hero Of Ages’ as well as the Kandra, a race of goo-like creatures who can take the appearance of any person or creature on ingestion of the bones of said creature or person is expanded upon. Their society and ultimate reason for their existence is detailed and intriguing. This is the same for the other races, yet the conclusion to their existence isn’t as satisfying as learning of who they were and why they were.
Overall, the ‘Mistborn Trilogy’ has been brilliant. It’s been written well, been rich and varied and the characters have been cared for throughout by an author who has taken great pride in what he’s created. However, the ending to the story left me a little unsatisfied, not painfully so, and not to the detriment of the whole, it just went too big and strived for too much. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out, because you should. Especially since it’s just been announced that there’s more to come.
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