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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mistborn: The Hero of Ages, by Brandon Sanderson

I have previously posted on the first two novels in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy. The post on the first one is here, and the post on the second one is here.

I am giving away large chunks of plot in this post, for anyone who tries to avoid that.

I began reading the third novel, The Hero of Ages (New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 2008) and I had no idea where Sanderson was going with these books. I have now read all three of them twice, and I'm not sure I have a firm grasp of his aim and destination yet. Perhaps that's partly my fault.

But here's the bottom line: the kingdom (or rather, the entire planet) is saved from environmental destruction. The volcanoes that have been pumping ash all over are finally vanquished, the sun can shine through, and green vegetation is restored. But at what cost? Many people die. The central character, Vin, and her husband, Emperor Elend Venture, die, or at any rate are transformed into some other type of being.

In the process of restoring the planet, the characters come to realize that there have been two powerful supernatural beings, Ruin and Preservation, at war. Preservation had bound Ruin to the Well of Ascension, and in going there, and saving Elend, Vin had released Ruin. One of the things that Ruin had been doing was to plant various thoughts, leading to ruin, in people's minds. One of the characters, so far a minor one, Spook, has been hearing what he thought was Kelsier, the hero of the first novel, who died near the end of that book. Preservation, although powerful, gives up his power to fight Ruin, and finally disappears. Atium, one of the magical metals used by the various kinds of practitioners of magic, has the potential to become Ruin's body, but Elend comes to understand that, and Ruin, too, is destroyed.

There is another god, or something, more powerful than Ruin or Preservation, and Elend and Vin become god-like beings themselves, and, although killed, don't really die, because their existence continues.

Another story, which has been going on throughout the three novels, also is resolved. Sazed, the student of all kinds of religion, has never found a religion that is completely satisfactory -- that can be proved logically.
He is told, by the oldest of the kandra, a race of beings derived originally from humans, that:
"Faith isn't about logic . . ." (p. 623)

His knowledge of the old dead religions turns out to be helpful, even necessary, in restoring the planet, and he finally finds faith. At the end, the survivors of the eucatastrophic climax of the novels emerge from hiding and begin to live a new life in a restored world.

Thanks for reading. A complex trilogy, and long enough that it requires considerable investment of time to read, but I found the books entertaining, with excellent characterization.

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