WARNING: THIS IS THE THIRD BOOK IN THE MISTBORN TRILOGY. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST ONE, GO CHECK OUT MY REVIEW AND READ IT. THIS REVIEW–AND THE SUMMARY–CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world.This adventure brings the Mistborn epic fantasy trilogy to a dramatic and surprising climax as Sanderson’s saga offers complex characters and a compelling plot, asking hard questions about loyalty, faith and responsibility.
I usually think of Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, concluded in The Hero of Ages (HoA), as a single unit, split into three parts, much like Lord of the Rings. This is, I think, partly because of how Sanderson wrote the books, all back-to-back, and had therefore finished the first draft of HoA before The Final Empire went off for copyedits, and so he was able to tweak thematic things to make them fit and flow through all three books. And they flow quite well. The overarching story is nicely continuous, and built up magnificently.
That’s not to say that HoA picks up exactly where Well of Ascension left off. Rather, it starts with a bang, throwing the reader into new and exciting mysteries, and answering questions much more quickly than you would have thought. Sanderson does not save all of his secrets for the big finish, and HoA is an exciting book throughout. If you found Well of Ascension a little boring, do not fear, HoA remedies that and more. The set-up in the first two books begins to pay off in droves, and it is glorious.
It also starts off with the excellent epigraph, “I am, unfortunately, the Hero of Ages.” Remember that as you read it. (If you’ve already read it, I’m sorry—kinda—for doing that to you.)
Sanderson does not give everything away just to keep the book going, though. He saves his best tricks for the end. And what an end it is. The first two books really were just warm-up exercises, all set-up for the climax of HoA. The battles are epic on a scale rarely seen, the stakes are incredible, and the twists are marvelous. And then, just when you think it’s over, Sanderson gives you an epilogue that will make you tear up. Guaranteed, no matter how little you usually tear up at books. If you get even slightly emotional at the end of books, have chocolate and/or ice cream ready. Probably best to have a box of tissues and a friend as well. (If none are available in person, poke me or Nikki on Twitter, and we’ll assemble a support group for you. It may be wise to do this even before you reach the ending.)
I think he can manage this, in large part, because of the characters to whom we have become so deeply connected over the series. Elend and Vin, now married and fully-powered Mistborn, make an excellent kick-butt couple. Vin, in particular, has come so far from the little street urchin who doesn’t trust anyone, and I love how her journey continues here.
Sazed’s quest continues, and it is, in my opinion, the best character arc in the series. Sanderson is a deeply religious man, but that does not show in the slightest in his writing. Sazed’s belief, or lack thereof, is pulled off so convincingly, that it makes me question what it really means to believe, every time I read through the trilogy.
Spook’s arc also has a fitting conclusion, one I feel is fully justified and deserved, given how the other characters have treated him throughout the series. I feel perhaps most like him—shunted to the side, used as an errand boy, and always, always, wanting to do more to help. I do not, in any way, blame him for anything that happens.
Ruin. Ruin is the perfect villain. Simultaneously nebulous and concrete, yet utterly nefarious and evil, Ruin plays his cards so brilliantly that I’m not even disappointed that, at the end of Well of Ascension, we learn that our characters have been doing what he wanted/expected all along. Plots like this usually annoy me, but Ruin is just so… Disgusting and excellent that I have no problems with it here.
In summary, the capstone to Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy is a brilliant, feels-inducing, climax that ties up all the right threads and gives us satisfying—if unexpected—conclusions for all of our beloved characters, complete with an epic Sanderson Avalanche. Thought of as a single unit, the Mistborn Trilogy is one of my favorites of all time, and as Hero of Ages is, I feel, the best in the trilogy, I give it Five of Five stars without blinking. Go. Get it. Read it. You’ll thank me when you’re done crying.