This review has actually been waiting to be written for a month now, so it’s about time I got down to publishing it. I’ll try to keep it nice and short; let’s face it, if you’ve read the other two books already then you’re probably going to read this one too!
One line summary: The Hero of Ages is a very good book. It’s noticeably better than the previous entries of the series in a couple of areas, most notably in characterization. Previously bland or secondary characters like Spook and Ten’soon get their chance to step out into the limelight – each having their own POV here – and they’re both stand-out, likable, and complex characters..
Plot-wise, I’m of two minds. Sanderson comes good on his promises and brings every strand together masterfully here. The grand tapestry that he has been building up to is finally fully revealed. After the last twist, everything fits and everything makes sense. In fact, I would have to say that it fits too well. The plot is so carefully constructed that in a certain way it actually restricts the story.
Let me draw a comparison here with Star Wars. Star Wars is a classic good vs. evil story, and you know from the very beginning that the good guys are going to win. The Empire Strikes Back, however, brilliantly threw a spanner in the works with the horrible things that happened to Luke and Han. They really suffered – and it wasn’t critical to the story that they do so. Star Wars could easily have been written without Han being frozen in carbonite or without Luke losing his hand. The Empire Strikes Back showed us that while the good guys would win, they could be hurt very badly in the process. (Cue force lightning scene!)
The Hero of Ages, in contrast, never quite makes that leap to non-essential danger. Sure, horrible things happen to the characters, but at the end of the day those things just feel like steps that were necessary to make the plot work. It couldn’t have happened any other way. The events are so scripted that they lose a certain amount of emotional tension.
One thing I do admire, however, is that Sanderson ends his series here. It’s done; finished; complete. There are no threads left intentionally hanging just to leave the possibility of a money-making sequel open. (There is another Mistborn novel but it’s not a direct sequel in this sense – it is separate and legitimate.) You will find finality here, and you will find resolution; there’s a complete and very satisfying ending. Quite frankly, it’s both epic and spectacular, and it’s hard to find fault with it.
All in all, the Mistborn series is well worth reading. The three books are all individually very strong, and the overall plot is fantastic. The series’ two weakest points are its characterization and its emotional impact. However, the innovative and ingeniously twisty plot makes these books something special. While they never quite reach the fantasy heights of The Wheel of Time or A Song of Ice and Fire, they are nonetheless superb books which provide a refreshing take on a somewhat staid genre. Highly recommended.