Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Review: The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

Ah, epic fantasy. Arguably the most creative, expansive genre out there, one where you can immerse yourself in a unique world brimming with magic and adventure. One of my favourite fantasy writers (maybe even my top favourite!) at the moment is Brandon Sanderson, the mastermind behind the "Mistborn Trilogy", as well as the YA novel "The Rithmatist" (see me gushing over it here!). I remember completely falling in love a few months ago with Vin and Elend and the rest of the characters of the series, not to mention the awesome world of Allomancy! Alas, all good things must come to an end--in this case--with "The Hero of Ages", the third and final book of my beloved "Mistborn Trilogy".

Humanity is doomed. One year has passed since Vin was tricked into freeing Ruin, the mystic force whose sole desire is to destroy the world, from the Well of Ascension. The ashes now fall more heavily, and the mists are killing more and more people. The world is ending, and it's up to Vin to correct her wrongs and help her husband Emperor Elend Venture, now a Mistborn himself, to find clues left behind by the lord Ruler that will allow them to save the people of the Final Empire. But the omniscient Ruin is bent on ending the world and manipulating Vin's every move, and saving humanity seems impossible.

One of the most impressive things I find about Mr. Sanderson's work, and that of fantasy writers in general, is the vast amount of ingenuity and thought that goes into the writing, resulting in an immersive world that sucks you in and never spits you out. At first, I'd thought that most of the world building would be done in the first book, but in "The Hero of Ages", Mr. Sanderson continues to expand the Final Empire, revealing more nooks and crannies to the world he'd created in the previous two installments. Not only does he take his readers to the different cities and towns outside of Luthadel--each with their own governments and conflicting viewpoints of the events unfolding--but he also brings them to the homes of the Terrismen and the kandra. The fact that the Final Empire only seems to be expanding in the final book shows just how expansive epic fantasy novels can be, and I believe Mr. Sanderson exemplifies this.

I think the same can be said about the characters of the "Mistborn Trilogy" as well. They're constantly developing as people, leaders and heroes, never passive, and that's what makes them truly interesting and engaging characters. Take Vin, for example. We've seen her mature from a suspicious, scarred skaa urchin into a strong, confident Mistborn, who learns to trust and love in ways she never thought she would. Instead of keeping her as simply a kickass, deified Mistborn, however, Mr. Sanderson shows us just how much of a true hero Vin is as she struggles with the truths that are unveiled and the choices she has to make. Elend is another character who undergoes some great character development, especially since he has to juggle his newfound Mistborn abilities with his existing responsibilities as the Emperor of the Final Empire. Admittedly, there isn't as much romance between Vin and Elend as I would've liked (who doesn't like some juicy love here and there?), but the bond that exists between them is undeniable and strong. Another character I have to mention when talking about character development is Spook. A good number of chapters follow Spook, who previously played a more minor role in the "Mistborn Trilogy", and in them, we see him grow as a person and a leader. Long story short, "The Hero of Ages" has incredible character development till the very last page, rendering the characters of the entire series memorable and inseparable from the readers' minds.

Unfortunately, I do have to say that I was a little disappointed by the plot of "The Hero of Ages". There is, without a doubt, exciting events that occur that kept me interested throughout. However, I felt like the storyline wasn't as 'tight' as it could've been. For example, there's a great deal of Sazed ruminating over his collection of religions, and it was a little too repetitive that it lost my attention. In fact, the first half or so of the book could've been condensed so that there wasn't any waffling and repetitions, which might've made the storyline more compelling and engaging. Nonetheless, the last half of the book was definitely exciting--my heart was pounding as I lapped up the last quarter of the novel! There were many times when I thought to myself, "Wow, this would look so, so cool if it were made into a movie", which goes to show how evocative Mr. Sanderson's writing is. The final twists that were revealed at the end tied in extremely nicely with all of the events and clues from the previous two books, like puzzle pieces falling into place. Very, very clever things going on!

Overall, "The Hero of Ages" is a thrilling, immersive finale to an incredible fantasy series, complete with an amazing, memorable cast of characters, an all-encompassing, magical world, and an intricate storyline that spans the entire trilogy. It's bittersweet to finally reach the end of the "Mistborn Trilogy", but this is definitely not the end of exploring more of Mr. Sanderson's work! I highly, highly recommend the "Mistborn Trilogy" to any fantasy lovers out there--this is an adventure you will not want to miss.

Rating: 4.5/5

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