Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reflections: The Hero of Ages

Adam C. Zern shares his thoughts on The Hero of Ages and the conclusion to the Mistborn trilogy:

"The Hero of Ages is a flawed book.  It suffers from the same problems that the first two books in the series—Mistborn and The Well of Ascension—suffered from, which is extremely annoying since I was hoping that the author, Brandon Sanderson, would have improved upon some of his previous mistakes.  Some of the grand revelations given in the third book, which the reader has been wondering about since the first book, clunk instead of click into place.  Yet, for all of my grumbles toward The Hero of Ages, I really enjoyed the book and was, in the end, satisfied with the characters, story, and experience the trilogy offered.

Sanderson's Mistborn universe is fascinating to me.  The more time I have spent with the Mistborn's particular brand of fantasy the more I have liked it.  I love the magic system, the theology, and the fundamental conflicts.  The Hero of Ages offers the most interesting moral/ethical conflict of all of the books by presenting several of its characters, and subsequently the reading audience, with the powers of godhood.  What would we attempt to do driven by our most benevolent feelings and what unforeseen and crushing consequences would that create for mankind and the ones we love?  Furthermore, the question presented in the first book—what happens if the hero fails?—is added upon in the finale by presenting new and challenging information about the first book's villain.  Were his motives good but his actions evil?  Was he completely evil?  Would we be any different being presented with a circumstance and a power that he held?  It's these types of questions that Sanderson's characters wrestle with that make the trilogy compelling, even if some of the storytelling is lacking.

The Mistborn trilogy is not perfect; in fact, it's far from it.  Pacing, dialogue, missed opportunities to develop character and story are all elements of its shortcomings.  But I liked the Mistborn trilogy.  It was fun, entertaining, creative, and at times presented some hardy ideas that I pondered when I wasn't reading the books.  Would I recommend it?  Certainly.  But only if you're willing to overlook some faults and embrace some fantasy.  I ended up being able to do both, and I genuinely enjoyed myself."

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