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Title: The Hero of Ages
Series: Mistborn #3
Authors: Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Epic Fantasy
The Hero of Ages is the prophesied savior of the Terris people, foretold to find and give up the power at the Well of Ascension, in a selfless act to save the world from the Deepness. However, the Terris prophecies proved to have been altered, in a ruse allowing the powerful force named Ruin to escape imprisonment.
Ruin wanted to destroy the world instantaneously but his power was too weak, as part of it had been taken and hidden by the opposing force, Preservation, long ago. Freedom from the Well of Ascension enabled Ruin to directly affect the world more, increasing ashfall from the ashmounts and summoning earthquakes to break the world apart; he could also influence people and control entire koloss armies. He used his thousand years of imprisonment to plot his escape and the subsequent destruction he would reap.
The Lord Ruler, in preparation of such an event, created storage caches containing resources such as food and water in cave complexes beneath certain cities, each one providing directions to the next. As Vin and Elend struggle to consolidate the remaining outposts of humanity, they hunt the storage caches, seeking hints left by the Lord Ruler and the missing atium stash. As they journey from cache to cache, the world itself begins to crumble, ash spewing forth in greater quantities, while the mists claim more people. The last two major unconquered cities are Fadrex City, which has reverted to the Lord Ruler’s old structure of mass oppression under the obligator Yomen, and Urteau, a rebel city where the Skaa are free, the nobility overpowered, and a former commoner titled the Citizen rules with increasing violence.
Sazed tries to establish diplomatic relations with the people of Urteau, while continuing to struggle with trauma from the recent death of his beloved, the Terriswoman Keeper Tindwyl. He studies religions, but has lost his own faith and yearns to find a religion that makes sense to him. He and Breeze work with Spook (who has developed strange abilities) to try and help Elend secretly take over Urteau. Meanwhile, TenSoon the kandra is imprisoned and sentenced to death by the kandra elders, while still trying to convince them that the kandra prophecies of the world ending are now happening, and that they must work together with the humans to save the world.
Vin and Elend try to conquer the city of Fadrex and discover more about how their world works; they discover strange patterns in the numbers of people dying after being exposed to the mists, as well as secrets regarding the art of Hemalurgy, which is used to create the koloss, the kandra, and the Inquisitors. Fearing that Ruin will discover their plans, they are unable to discuss their plans with each other. Yomen, the King of Fadrex City, captures Vin on an infiltration mission gone wrong. Elend, left without any choice, takes another koloss army under his control, but the last remnants of Preservation appear to him, warning him to not attack the city. Shortly later, Preservation finally dies. On the verge of the attack, Vin escapes, and Ruin reveals his ability to seize ultimate control over the koloss. Ruin turns the koloss against Elend and Yomen’s human armies, but before he can destroy them, Vin leads Ruin’s attention and armies away to Luthadel. There, Marsh and the remaining Steel Inquisitors (who are under Ruin’s control) battle Vin. On the verge of her death, Marsh briefly reasserts control and removes Vin’s earring (which is actually a Hemalurgic spike), allowing Vin to draw upon the true power of the mists, Preservation’s power. Vin ascends to become Preservation, trapped with Ruin upon another plane of existence, watching the world.
The kandra finally accept their doom, and Sazed finds his faith in the ancient Terris religion and the Hero of the Ages. Urteau is saved, at a great physical cost to Spook, who has discovered that Ruin was influencing him with Hemalurgy. Elend leads the last of humanity to the Kandra homeland, the Pits of Hathsin, where Ruin’s power, or body, has been stored. Ruin has been fooling Vin and Elend into leading him to his body, which turns out to be the atium stash, hidden in the Kandra homeland all along. Surrounded, and outnumbered, Elend, realizes that the Mists have been snapping mistings, and that he has been provided with an army of atium mistings. He leads a desperate battle against the koloss, in vain. Marsh appears again, and faces down Elend. Though Elend receives mystical aid from Vin, giving him unlimited metallic power, Marsh strikes Elend in the chest with an axe, which proves fatal. As he is dying, Elend reveals that his soldiers have burnt away all of Ruin’s body, the atium, in battle, so now Ruin can never recover his missing power. Vin realizes that Preservation gave of himself to create mankind so that mankind would be able to manifest both Preservation’s ability to create and Ruin’s ability to destroy. Having both abilities within her, Vin attacks Ruin directly, killing herself/Preservation, but also destroying Ruin.
Vin and many others thought that she was the Hero of Ages, but it is revealed to actually be the Terris Keeper Sazed. One major prophecy, “The Hero will bear the future of the world on his arms”, referred to Sazed’s Feruchemical copperminds on his arms. He uses the knowledge in these copperminds, along with the combined power of Preservation and Ruin, claimed from the fallen bodies of Vin and Ruin, to help reshape the world, re-aligning the sun and planets to stabilize the world, changing the red, volcanic ecology into a new paradise of blue skies, green foliage, gentle warming sun and rainbow flowers. Spook, Ham, Breeze, and the other survivors emerge to this newly reformed world, and begin their mission of rebuilding society.
Having read this back in ’08 when it came out I remembered the basic gist and knew that there were LOTS of twists and turns in regards to the plot. I did not remember specifics though, so every “new” revelation on this re-read WAS almost new to me, again. It was one of the oddest sensations that I have experienced in a long time.
After my mixed reaction to the previous book I was a bit iffy on this. However, I enjoyed this quite a bit and didn’t feel any mixed anything. Now, that’s not to say it’s a perfect book. Sanderson goes full on Dickens and describes stuff out the wazoo and there more times than I cared to count that I ended up skimming paragraphs at a time. That’s the main reason why this stayed at 4stars even though I enjoyed it more than the previous book.
By the end of this book I had realized that Sanderson had been writing for a specific group, whether he realized it or not and that I no longer belonged to that group. So while I enjoyed this re-read, I don’t think I’ll ever be re-reading these again nor recommending them to anyone over 30. I have the 10th Anniversary Edition of Elantris still to read and after that, I think I’ll be done with Sanderson until he finishes up his Stormlight Archives magnum opus.
The cover I have used here is quite different from the one that was originially released back in ’08 (https://aarongifford.com/images/heroofages.jpg) and I feel, that while not as cool, is much more in line with the contents. A bit more “truth in advertising”.