My Experience with The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

Let’s talk about the finale to Brandon Sanderson’s epic trilogy. I’ll take your coat. Have a seat, grab some coffee (I have tea if you prefer), and let’s dive in.

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The Hero of Ages is the end of the first generation of Mistborn books. In The Final Empire, we met Vin, Elend, and a large cast of mistings who engaged in a heist so epic that they became the stuff of legend. So epic in fact that in The Well of Ascension, an entire religion formed around them.

In this volume, our heroes must deal with the consequences of having visited the well of ascension. Elend has not only leaned into his role as emperor, but he’s become a competent ruler. He and Vin now fight together to save their world that is now dying from famine and mist-induced illnesses. But there’s a strange and unnatural order to how the mists kill, and unraveling that mystery may be the key to restoring the world to balance.

While book two holds the belt for best overall story when it comes to the characters, I enjoyed the journeys given to Spook and Sazed. Each represented a part of the story’s theme: faith. But this isn’t your typical “saved by the power of love and hope” story. Sanderson approaches this theme with intellectual rigor. Without their stories, the book would have collapsed under the weight of its heavy plot.

And that brings me to what I think is the ironic flaw of the trilogy’s ending. I’ll let you finish your drink so you don’t spit take on my carpet. Done? Good.

It had too much “awesome.”

I know, I know. Hear me out, though. Because I think this is subtle.

In the first two novels, we had a steady clip of incremental “awesome reveals,” and the interest of not spoiling the crucial bits, I won’t state them here. In The Hero of Ages, Sanderson was forced to show his incredibly well thought out hand. And because many of the story’s secrets needed to be saved for the last several hundred pages, I was overwhelmed with all the tarps he snatched away so we could see how everything fit together.

I realize that’s a strange element to take issue with, but what is intended as a feature can become a flaw. While I can’t say for sure what would have smoothed over what Sanderson needed to accomplish in this final volume, my first instinct would be to resolve it by giving the reader more reaction time. I know I needed more time to breathe, and the perfect way to breathe (for me) is to read more character work (like we got with book two). However, that would have inflated this story into four or five volumes instead of the conservative and marketable three.

Aside from a preference for digestion time, this story checked my boxes. And though it wasn’t the exact ending I expected or wanted, it finished the work and delivered an ending appropriate for the novel’s theme as it fits into the larger context of the trilogy.

But let’s talk about this. Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know!