Customer Reviews: The Hero of Ages: Book Three of Mistborn
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on October 19, 2008
The first two books in the Mistborn series were excellent, but it is only in this one that Sanderson twists everything you know, and everything you *think* you know in such an unexpected, completely original direction that you're left breathless. All the little clues were there, but he planted them so artfully that they aren't even noticed until suddenly you realize the meaning *behind* what you've been reading! I've rarely read such a masterful plot.

I discovered this author by hearing that he had been chosen to finish Robert Jordan's last Wheel of Time novel. I started reading Sanderson's books because I wanted to assure myself that Jordan's family had chosen a writer who could finish the saga successfully. Now I realize that writing Jordan's last book is a waste of Sanderson's talents; he should be writing his *own* books. I positively cannot wait to see what Sanderson's next book, or series of books, will be. I also want to sit down and re-read the Mistborn trilogy over again from the beginning; the first two books will be an entirely different reading experience, now that I understand the truth.
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on October 14, 2008
I was lucky enough to get an advance reading copy of this book a while back. And I have to say that Sanderson's storytelling keeps getting better and better.

Simply said, Brandon Sanderson's books are so good that they're starting to piss me off. It just doesn't seem fair that someone should be about to write this well, this fast.

I don't believe in spoilers, so I will say simply this. Everything comes to good resolution in this final book. It all fits. It all makes sense. But at the same time I didn't see it coming. That doesn't happen very often.
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on October 16, 2008
Brandon has established himself as a new heavy hitter in the fantasy genre. Elantris was spectacular (albeit with a few problems) and his Mistborn series is a step above that.

With the Mistborn series Brandon firmly calls out other authors of the genre - not only in terms of quality, but in terms of quantity. Writing as much and as well as he does should be a crime - one that gets him a life sentence of...more writing.

In this third Mistborn book questions are answered...and more questions are raised. Action is fast paced and for those of us male readers who need a new masculine hero (after Kelsier died), to identify with - we are given it. Combined with the female protagonist (Vin), the new hero balances the books in a way they have not been since the death of Kelsier.

The only drawback of the way Sanderson writes is his tendency to leave questions unanswered, or to raise new questions near the end of his novels. To the reader, these might seem to be promises he is expected to answer eventually. Unfortunately Brandon has yet to commit to answering them.

On a side note - as an author Brandon is incredible accessible and personable to his fans. Unlike other authors, he seems to genuinely appreciate each and every fan he has.

And that, my friends, is just one more reason for us to buy his books; we must keep him writing!
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on October 19, 2008
Don't let the negative reviews fool you: The Hero of Ages and this entire trilogy is a story for the ages.

Mistborn: The Final Empire enthralled me, seamlessly integrating its magic system into the setting along with perfectly believable characters. On top of that, there was the amazing plot. Taken all together, there was one amazing product. Anyone who has read The Well of Ascension can surmise that there is much more to the original concept--what happened if the Hero of Prophecy failed--than even conceivable.

The first two books left large shadows, but Hero of Ages satisfies. To say that it "satisfies" is the largest understatement I've ever said. My fears that the trilogy would collapse from a horrible final volume were completely unwarranted. Instead, I was left with a phenomenal book that may just be the best one I've ever read.

In The Hero of Ages, the world is on the edge of destruction, brought about from the force known only as Ruin. Ashfalls grow ever more turbulent, and the mists still kill. Vin and Elend are stymied: how can one save the world from certain doom?

I won't say any more of the plot, but it is a story crafted with a chisel of a master. Things from the first book suddenly become immensely important, and questions from before are answered in a simple, logical fashion. If this story was crafted by anything less than an expert sculptor, a series as complicated as Mistborn--with three different magic systems interacting at the same time--could easily disintegrate into insanity, but this novel never fails to disappoint. Rather than confusion, this book left me in awe of Brandon Sanderson's genius. Every surprise is genuine, yet amazingly logical at the same time.

Anyone who has read Brandon's work will know of his fantastic endings. Well, this book far surpasses my wildest dreams. As the concluding volume in the trilogy, the entire book feels like one gigantic ending, making this novel a ride you won't want to miss. And when you finally do get to the final climax, that product description is not a hyperbole when it says it "will leave readers rubbing their eyes in wonder, as if awaking from an amazing dream." I certainly did.

The real heroes of this novel are the wonderfully realized characters. Every character I loved grew (literally), everyone from the emperor Elend, the assassin Vin, the Terrisman Sazed, and even dear Spook grew to become a real character. Each character feels real on every level. Even the tyrannical Lord Ruler--almost an entity of absolute evil in Book One--becomes shockingly deep in this volume to last the ages. This book is a true masterpiece of fiction.
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on September 15, 2009
The Conclusion of the Mistborn Trilogy is interesting, but the book constantly breaks the "Show, Don't Tell Rule." As a result, the book reads like an encyclopedia, rather than an epic adventure.

All of the pieces of the puzzle come together in the fascinating Mistborn universe. It begins one year after The Well of Ascension and answers all of the questions raised by the first two books. If you were captivated by the Mistborn World and you enjoyed the first two books, this is a must read. But before you read, I need to warn you about a few things!

Issue #1:
The History, Clues, and Puzzle Pieces of the Story are presented to the reader `wikipedia style' in italicized text before each Chapter begins:
"The Lord Ruler created the Koloss because..."
This causes problems.
The reader gets ahead of the characters. If the book plainly tells you the answer to a riddle before the characters struggle through the riddle in the scene, it seems like the characters are bumbling around in the dark. It is frustrating to watch them struggle to solve a problem that the book just presented to you in a simple manner.

Example: The answer is 4. - pretend that was italicized.
Vin struggled to find out how many coins she needs to get from the rampart to the mess hall. She retraced her steps several times to calculate the exact distance from the mess hall to the rampart. It seemed as if it was 250 steps. After, she experimented with steel pushing against coins and discovered that one push could send her approximately 50 feet at a 45 degree angle. However, a tower was erected between the two points and was taller than the rampart. Vin pushed to the top of the tower and discovered that the roof was metal and if she pulled, she could reach the top! Vin started to experience self doubt, asking herself, "Can I figure this out? Do I have enough coins? Will Elend ever show any romantic interest in me at all?" After figuring out the distance and realizing she could use the tower, she would need four coins! - Pretend that was 12 pages long.

Issue #2
Creating an original fantasy world is incredibly difficult and there is always the risk of losing the reader. But this book constantly rehashes the first two books every step of the way. It becomes redundant and really slows down the pace of the book. This could have been done a lot more efficiently. It could also have been done in the italicized paragraphs before the actual Chapters!!!

Issue #3
Characters are less interesting
Because of the tedium and rehashing, the entertaining parts of the Chapters become few and far between. The scenes should be full of action, humor, romance, wit, character building dialogue... Because of the pacing, the characters all seem really flat. It's like watching a bunch of insecure people solve a problem when you already know the answer.

Issue #4
Some of the action is lost.
Elend nimbly ducked a sword slash from a rushing swordsman, and planted the obsidian dagger into the swordsman's throat. Another soldier charged Elend from behind. He quickly steel pushed the dying man's sword into the rushing soldier, impaling him through the chest.
"Elend killed two guys."

Issue #5
The world hasn't grown since Book 1.
The strength of the series is the original setting. But the setting is exactly the same as the first book. No new races, creatures, lands, or weather. It's all ashen skies and misty nights. What was captivating in Mistborn becomes a bit boring by this point.

The Hero of Ages describes a very unique and interesting fantasy universe. However, the scenes are lacking emotion, and all of the important events are plainly told to you at the beginning of each Chapter. Because of this, you really feel a strong disconnect with the characters in the story and you may end up just flipping pages to see if anything interesting happens.

If you just want to appreciate an original, well thought out universe, then you will enjoy this book. If you want a strong epic adventure with great characters, stop reading after Book 1.
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on September 1, 2009
Let's be honest. If you've already read the first two books, you are going to read this book for closure. Unfortunately, the price of closure is a pretty mediocre book. While I thought that books one and two were solid "4 Star" stories, this book fails to follow the trend. I've had problems with the Author's prose in the past (he is always repeating seems that "flat stares" are the most common mannerism in this new world), but this book also suffers from failed plot execution and construction.

My first complaint is that I really don't see anything commendable in our heroes. In many ways, this series is about how ideologues must trade in their starry-eyed preconceptions for a hard dose of realism. But time after time, we see that attempts at realism by these characters ends with them causing more misery than good. Their adversaries- both mortal and immortal- continue to outsmart them. This happened a little in book I, but the characters were still masters of their own destiny. In book II, our characters were learning to be leaders, and so we expected them to be out maneuvered regularly. But in Book III, they seem to have gotten even worse, constantly finding themselves reacting to the plans of others. Pretty much every "victory" they enjoy is completely accidental or the result of machinations started by the benevolent god Preservation or the Lord Ruler a thousand years ago. There is even a sense of Providence as key plot points are advanced by mere coincidence (a certain inquisitor just happens to stumble across a guy with key information. A group of special soldiers just happens to be sent to the Pits of Hathem). As the story unfolds, it seems that the only thing each character really controls is choosing his or her manner of death. Is that really the message our author planned?

While it is nice to have all the secrets and loose ends wrapped up, the Author really seemed heavy-handed. In the first two books, each chapter was headed by almost cryptic sentences from tomes that characters discovered as the plot progressed. In Hero of Ages a similar book is quoted. But this time, the book reads like a detailed manual, explaining how the magic systems work, how the gods Preservation and Ruin work, and using scientific references to microbes and planetary orbits. These revelations are extremely frustrating. While it's cool to get some meat behind the phenomena, we are being told things that the characters have yet to discover.

And so, instead of identifying with the characters' ignorance, we sit- knowing the truth- as they bumble around in mistake after mistake. For instance, we are told many of the secrets of Hemalurgy (the magic used to make Inquisitors) early on in the book, but must suffer through characters constantly wondering about it, or oblivious when it is being used against them. I knew at the very beginning of the story why Vin can only selectively hear Ruin or use the Mists. It is clear who is being manipulated by the enemy. But worst of all is Sazed. He is undergoing a crisis of faith throughout the entire book. Suddenly, despite decades of training and planning to Preach religions, he is bothered by the internal inconsistencies of all these religions. Throughout the story, he scours his accumulated religions, looking for one that can prove that there is an after-life and a plan. First, this guy has been wading knee deep in SIGNS of the super natural, so he has far more to hang his faith on than any reader expected to identify with him. Second, it is completely silly that a theologian of his learned experience is unable to reconcile the fact that religions- as they are passed on from fallible person to fallible person- might develop some internal inconsistencies. This entire dilemma was frustratingly drawn out and contrived.

All together, this series was a good read. I'd give the entire trilogy 4 stars for an epic story that explores some really cool themes. Unfortunately, this book does more to take away from the trilogy than add to it. While I give Mr Sanderson full marks for his imagination and plot-construction, his execution still needs work. It leaves me torn on whether or not I want to try more of his books...
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VINE VOICEon October 14, 2008
I just finished reading my copy of Hero of Ages, and can't say enough about how good it was. Apart from one desultory chapter in the early going, Sanderson's book is a page-turner that'll blow you away with action, razor-sharp pacing, and revelations that there's no way you will have seen coming. Sanderson connects all the dots by the end, and leaves nothing unanswered. It was a pleasure to read a trilogy that in no way is going to keep going.

At least I hope it doesn't keep going. The ending was terrific, and one more chapter would have ruined the series.
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I've never before felt this way about a book. When it was all said and done, I found the overall story amazing. I loved it. The way all my questions were finally answered, how everything came together in the end was just awesome. But the journey itself was painful. Like in Well of Ascension before it I was infuriated by the lack of moving forward. Too much repetition and introspection. Too much description of stuff we don't care about. Characters were ok, but the internal dialog was annoying, and the banter between them not enjoyable. The "new" Spook was just... different. Not the same character at all, and not likable. I find it telling that TenSoon was the only character I genuinely liked in this book. Like other people critical of this book (as in "Well" before it), I especially found the relationship between Vin and Elend lacking. They come off as really good friends that are a little too obsessed with eachother, but not genuinely in love with eachother--they do make great sacrifices for each other, true, but that doesn't change the fact that they lack any kind of romantic or sexual chemistry. And I do believe it would have been possible and more realistic to show that romantic and sexual chemistry despite the war and the end of the world going on. And if Sanderson didn't want to "bog down" the story with the details of their relationship, why bog down the story with so much other superfluousness. Ultimately, I believe this story could have been truly awesome if it had been shorter. Perhaps by cutting out the dull bits and combining the truly interesting parts of Well and Hero we could have had a truly great read. But as it is (or rather "as they are," since the same goes for Well)... I can't recomend it/them without a strong warning about what to expect.
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on June 29, 2015
I enjoyed the first two book of this series, but in this book, I found myself setting it down on several occasions saying "Come on!" The characters started dragging in the second book and it's even worse in this one. The relationships seem off. Vin and Elend just stop developing as a couple at all. And at times they seem friendly rather than "in love." Spook's character got... weird. Although this was his time in the spotlight, so I could let that go.

My other complaint was that I felt that the religion was being shoved down my throat. I don't want to give too much away, but the last third of the book I rolled my eyes pretty often thinking "Ok, Sanderson, I get it. You are very religious. Can we move on with the story?" And it lead to the climax to be rather anticlimactic.

Overall, I liked it ok. I enjoyed the series as a whole and the third book did a good job of tying everything up and giving me the ended I thought the series deserved. It was just sometimes a trial to get there.
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on May 7, 2010
Let me start by saying that I thought book one was good, and book two was an incredible drag.

Book three of the Mistborn series was very good, but had a few major annoyances, which I will get to later. First off, I loved the ending. A good ending should give the reader the impression that the story was meant to get there from the very beginning, but it shouldn't be entirely predictable. There were elements that I did not see coming, and I liked how they turned out. I especially liked how Sazed's religious studies culminated in his final work - it was a nice resolution to his hideously drawn-out faith crisis. Vin's final confrontation with the inquisitors and then with Ruin himself was exciting, and Elend's final war with the koloss was a satisfying climax to the story. Sanderson brought together all his elements, explained his secrets, and brought the story to its conclusion with mystifying power (no pun intended).

I also liked the character of TenSoon and the immersion into the kandra culture. It was fascinating and well-told, though somewhat short-lived (but that's probably a good thing).

Despite these high points, the book did have some definite drawbacks for me:

The personal and ethical dilemma's were drawn out and made little sense. Sazed's religious crisis was so irritating, I wanted to put the book down every time he talked about it. In the first book, Sazed seemed like a wise old scholar, who saw past the institution and theology of a faith to the true heart of it, the nuggets of truth buried in each one. He seemed to understand what most people only understand AFTER a crisis of faith. But after losing the love of his life in book two, he reverts to a juvenile who just lost the faith he followed fervently in high school, having just found out, "Whoa! There's inconsistencies here! What the...?" Then he proceeds to drone on about it until the end of the book. Thankfully, his crisis turns out to have significance for the conclusion of the story as a whole, but it struck me as rather weak and incredibly bland.

Next on my list of frustrations, Elend Venture brings his legions of koloss armies to make war with the city of Fadrex, hoping to save all the people together. Believe me, I understand the moral dilemma of doing wrong to accomplish good things. It's a good ethical question: I believe I need to conquer this city in order to save my people and possibly the world. But the struggle is overstated (through repetition) and skewed. Elend decides to try diplomacy first, before attacking the city, hoping to convince its king that they can make an alliance, but when that fails, he feels he is forced to bring death and destruction on the people's citizens. My problem with this is that the idea of "political assassination" comes up only a couple of times, and Elend quickly dismisses it, with the statement that that's just "not what we do." REALLY??? You bring an army of monsters to a peaceful city and struggle with the ethical quandry of attacking, but with barely a thought you decide that assassination is going TOO FAR? I'm sorry but if someone thinks that a political assassination is too far beyond the line of decency, but STARTING A WAR that will kill THOUSANDS of people is borderline, they need to have their heads examined. Sending an army of monsters to kill innocent civilians is so far beyond political assassination in ethical standards, it is unthinkable that the one should be considered and the other thrown out the window. That, in my book, makes Elend Venture a complete moron who should not be leading a bake sale, let alone a kingdom.

Lastly, though there may be other problems, this is the other main one with which I had issues. I don't know how many people noticed this, and I know it is mostly a style thing, but it seems that Sanderson absolutely refuses to use the word "but." Perhaps, for some people that's nice. We don't have to have sentences riddled with five or six clauses at a time, but is it really worth struggling through thousands of uses of the word "HOWEVER?" It is not the fact that the auther merely uses the word, which is a valid word, in and of itself. However, this particular word is the kind of word that is meant to make someone... slow... down... and... pay... special attention. When you read this word it can be substituted for the normal use of the conjunction, "but"... However... it is usually meant for... EMPHASIS. It is not meant for a permanent, transient, replacement. Basically, all I'm saying is, he uses this word as often as another auther would usually make a new clause with "but," and it really, I mean REALLY, breaks up the flow of the the book. It's fine, once in a while, for Sazed to use it, because it is the kind of word a lecturer would use to stop someone in their tracks when their line of thought is about to go to the wrong place, but it really shouldn't be used by most of the other characters, as most people really don't use it all that much in everyday life, and it really shouldn't be used that much by the narrator. It might be a fun and useful exercise for a writer to try writng a short story without ever using the word "but," but with a published work, it should be edited to include the times when "but" is appropriate, which is most of the time.

Okay, I'm done ranting. Except for these three primary complaints, I really enjoyed this book. I would give it between a three and a four star rating, but I can't, so because the second book was such a drag and this one left me pleasantly surprised, I still offer it a generous four stars.
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