Spoilers for The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson to follow!
Well, this review is gonna be tough. I noticed with my last couple of reviews, I haven’t done a very good job of criticizing what the book didn’t do well. I hate to be overly critical of books, but at the same time, it is good to see what they didn’t do right. The other problem with this is, this book does not have a ton that I can criticize. In fact, this might be the best book in the series, maybe even surpassing Mistborn: The Final Empire. I would also like to put a disclaimer before you read this article. What I say here is not set in steel (anyone?), it is merely my opinion of this book. It is not to be taken as fact. In fact, some of my criticisms may have just been things that I noticed, not everyone may have the same issues with them as I did. So, before I keep on rambling, let’s get into this.
The Hero of Ages was a supremely well-done book. Aside from a couple of things, it was a flawless read. The ending was perfect for the characters and it leaves you with the hole that needs to be filled by more time spent with these characters. It does struggle at some times with pacing and certain plot lines being confusing. But, those issues could have been my own due to the fact that I went weeks without reading it at one point.
So let’s get into this! First, let’s look at what I didn’t necessarily enjoy about it.
1. The Pacing – All Sanderson books tend to struggle with this issue, but it does tend to make up for itself in the end. It is still worth pointing out though. The book starts off very quickly with a good amount of action to hook the reader in (though, why are you still reading if you haven’t liked the series so far?). But, as you get into the book, the characters stay in the same place and I got a little bored with it at times and it just felt slow. It’s not that things weren’t happening and the story wasn’t being developed. In fact, these scenes had some tremendous set up for the end. But things felt very monotonous at times. Which leads to my second point here.
2. The Scenes – Don’t get me wrong about this point. Every scene revealed something new and some brought some spectacular action sequences to it. But, there were several points where I felt like I had already read this. It felt similar to previous chapters. Characters were doing similar things, and the settings became similar. Now, don’t get me wrong, these scenes were brilliant at times even if they felt the same. But I definitely feel that this affected the pacing of the book for me as it seemed like it dragged at times.
These were my two big issues with this book. I’m sure that if I reread it, I’ll find other nitpicky issues that I had with this book. But overall, those are the two biggest issues that I had with it.
Now to get to some of the good stuff. Let’s look at what worked in this book for me!
1. The Characterization – This book has some pretty dang good characters. In fact, the characterization may be near perfection in this series. Each character had a completely realistic arc and the ending for all the characters fell in place perfectly. Everyone got the ending that they had been foreshadowed (though where it was foreshadowed, I cannot tell you. I’ll have to reread the series just to look for that piece alone!) and that they had reached a conclusion that fit for each of the characters. Even the surprise ending for Sazed felt perfect. The entire book dealt with his depression and loss of faith, then in the end he regained it in the best possible way. Which leads me to my second point.
2. The Writing – The way this book was written was the best of the entire series. The prose succeeded tremendously. Sanderson really hit his stride in this book. I think one of my favorite lines from any piece of literature comes in this book. In Chapter 56, Spook is talking to Sazed about faith and he answers him in this way: “Faith,” Spook said, “means that it doesn’t matter what happens. You can trust that somebody is watching. Trust that somebody will make it all right.” When I first read that line, I just sat there for a moment. I had to reread it again, and not only did I reread it once, I reread it five times. Not only is this line great in of itself as it is a great explanation of faith to Sazed, but it also foreshadows to the end of the book where they have to place faith in Vin to “make it all right.” The prose and dialogue in this book were just marvelous and I enjoyed it immensely.
As I have already touched on similar highlights in my last two reviews, I’ll briefly cover them here. The setting of The Final Empire is highly unique in this last chapter of the first era and influences several plot points. The plot is also highly original from what I have read in fantasy and is executed to perfection, even if it is rather slow at parts. The ending is a shocker, though well set up.
All in all, this book is one of my favorite fantasy reads. It’s not a perfect book, but it overcomes its struggles and makes for a killer ending. I cannot decide if I like it better than the first book, but both are pretty dang good. This trilogy was a great introduction to the Cosmere and I look forward to reading more of it!
Have you read any of the Mistborn trilogy? If so what were your thoughts? Leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to reply!
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