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The Hero of Ages: Book Three of Mistborn    by Brandon Sanderson order for
Hero of Ages
by Brandon Sanderson
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Hero of Ages is the conclusion (after The Final Empire and The Well of Ascension) to Brandon Sanderson's oustanding - and highly innovative in its magical elements - Mistborn trilogy.

In this world, a hero overcame a great evil but succumbed to the corruption of power to become the godlike Lord Ruler and impose a thousand year tyranny. Ash falls constantly, no flowers bloom, stars and hope both remain hidden, and the skaa are treated brutally by the nobility. Powers of Allomancy - to burn various metals for empowerment - show up in the nobility and their offspring. Those with individual powers are Mistings. The Mistborn have all these abilities.

In The Final Empire, Kelsier, the Survivor of Hathsin, led a rebellious band of thieves and con artists, including his Mistborn protegée Vin, to destroy the Lord Ruler and take over the Empire's greatest city, Luthadel. Kelsier died in the attempt, and is now venerated as the Survivor. Bookish philosopher/aristocrat Elend Venture, who aided the rebellion and is Vin's beloved, was chosen as King in its aftermath.

Events in The Well of Ascension were set against a backdrop of politics, war and betrayal. Armies marched on Luthadel; Elend struggled with his new role; and Kelsier's crew fomented conflict amongst their enemies. At the very end, Elend became an Allomancer, and Vin discovered that she had released from the Well of Ascension an old evil, Ruin, whose aim is the world's total destruction. To make things tougher for the good guys, Ruin can alter written records (aside from what's inscribed in metal) and hear what's spoken (but can't read thoughts).

As The Hero of Ages opens, ashmounts are spewing more ash out than ever, earthquakes are increasing, crops failing, and koloss armies attacking communities everywhere. Elend, coming into his own as a strong and capable leader, is on a mission to locate all of the secret caches - and messages - the Lord Ruler hid in different cities - humanity's survival depends on them. Vin has his back. They learn much about the nature of Inquisitors, the koloss, and the Mist itself (why sixteen?), but despair of finding all the caches in time.

Marsh, empowered by Hemalurgic steel spikes and imprisoned in his own thoughts, struggles to exert a small iota of control over the evil entity that controls his every action. Kandra Tensoon, who has returned to his people, is judged and condemned for the help he gave to Vin, which the conservative Second Generation see as a betrayal. Terrisman Sazed continues to study past religions and struggles with his own beliefs, while serving as Elend's chief ambassador.

And in the subplot I enjoyed most, young Spook, the least regarded of Kelsier's original crew becomes a tin savant (hypersensitive to all around him). He spies for Elend in the city of Urteau, has visions of Kelsier's spirit (which gives him the added ability to burn pewter), is very much attracted to Beldre, the sister of Urteau's leader Quellion (who likes to burn aristocrats), and finally comes of age.

As humanity's survival rests on a knife edge with only days left, Sanderson ties all his subplots together, driving his characters towards surprising - and fitting - destinies. Readers learn that Ruin has been influencing unexpected people, Elend conceives a brilliant, out-of-the-box way to defeat the enemy, and Sazed finally gets an answer - not at all the one he expected - to the question to which he has dedicated his life. He decides he 'was not meant to be an atheist.'

At the back of the book is a Metals Quick Reference Chart, showing their uses, a glossary of Names and Terms, and handy Summaries of Previous Books (for those who read them a year or so ago and have forgotten details) - I wish all complex fantasies supplied such useful material! I highly recommend this unique Mistborn series to all fantasy readers. I thoroughly enjoyed The Hero of Ages and look forward to Brandon Sanderson's future works.

2nd Review by Alex Telander:

In Sanderson's thrilling and resounding conclusion to his Mistborn trilogy, he doesn't hold back, skillfully bringing all the different pieces, sub-plots, and characters together in a fitting end to the series. Sanderson has stated that if he returns to the Mistborn world one day, it will be hundreds of years in the future or past. For now, The Hero of Ages weighs in at almost six hundred pages and offers a very satisfying finish for its complex and powerful characters.

The Well of Ascension has been found by the supposed Hero of Ages, Vin, and the power has been released - except it is an evil spirit, Ruin, who seeks to end the world with the help of the deadly inquisitors. Ash from the ashmounts is falling thicker and stronger, choking the lands, preventing life from growing or surviving, while the great volcanoes are beginning to thunder to life, and the mists continue to terrify everyone, leaving some dead, others deathly ill, perpetuating the mystery.

Elend Venture, now emperor of the realm, has two kingdoms to ally with in preparation for the oncoming battle. Leaving with Vin, he heads to Fadrex City which was formerly Cett's kingdom, but is now under the control of the obligator Lord Yomen, along with his army of koloss. Spook, Ham, Breeze and others head for Urteau under the control of the maniacal Quellion. But Ruin is somehow able to control both Yomen and Quellion, as well as stealing control over the koloss, weighing the odds heavily against Emperor Venture and his people.

Then there are the mysterious kandra race who are in a crisis of faith, for their sole existence is based upon the Contract which was written by the Lord Ruler, who is no longer; does the Contract therefore no longer apply? There is the trial of TenSoon who has slain one of their own. The First Generation of kandra sit silent and undecided, while the later generations are anxious and impatient, unsure whether to adhere to the Contract or rebel.

Finally there is the great Sazed, the scholar who has lost his faith and will, having researched every religion but one and finding nothing but lies and obfuscation. It is this last religion - that of his Terris people that is somehow tied to that of the kandra - which leaves him a sliver of hope, as he seeks final answers to meaning behind the world, its gods, its peoples.

In The Hero of Ages, Sanderson ratchets everything up to its highest point, with the end times approaching and all hope dwindling. The reader is hooked to the very last page, unsure of what will happen, who will survive, and wondering if this might really be the end of everything?

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