Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Hero of Ages, by Brandon Sanderson: A Review




This will be all I post tonight. I trust that will be acceptable. I have many flowering thoughts on the community blog idea - I will be getting them down on paper and emailing them to a small handful of you that replied. Once I can get a framework down, I will present it here, to see what the rest of you think of the idea in general. If it seems a waste of time, I'll jettison it without looking back, but if y'all think it would be worth pursuing, I'll commit.

Until tomorrow, then, here's my review of Mistorn Book 3, such as it is...

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The Hero of Ages, by Brandon Sanderson

Once again, I wrestle with how to proceed reviewing a book (and a series) that is, in many ways, difficult to get my brain and heart around. I don't want to spoil anything, but I may inadvertently do just that, so if you plan on reading this series, consider yourself forewarned.

As I finished the final pages of The Hero of Ages, which is, in turn, the final book in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series, I could do little but marvel at the scope of the accomplishment. This may seem like a statement of well-intentioned hyperbole; a product of attempting to write a book review in the immediate aftermath of finishing the book, rather than waiting an adequate cool-down period to gain some perspective, but truly, I believe what Sanderson has accomplished in the writing of this series transcends great story-telling. It works as an amazingly well-thought-out tale, full of terrific characters and action, but it also works much, much deeper. It is also a study of religion and faith in general. It is a study on the nature of deception. It is a study of the problems facing deity. It is a study of dealing with power and strength and frustration. It is a study of the pitfalls of assumption. It is a study of understanding and appreciating strengths and weaknesses in both specific individuals, and in groups of peoples in general. It is not just high fantasy, brilliantly told - it can certainly be enjoyed and appreciated on that level. But it also opens a door into a room your mind may never have gone before, and lets you nose around a bit, with that strange mix of discovery and fascination and trepidation.

Again, well-intentioned afterglow hyperbole? Hard to say. Perhaps a night's rest would temper such words - who knows, I may one day read my sentiments here and feel a bit embarrassed. But for the moment - for right now - I'm fairly-well bowled over by the experience, by the mutli-faceted journey, by the stretching of myself. It's one thing to subtly present philosophical questions that a reader may, perhaps, have never pondered before. It's another thing to hide those subtle questions within incredible action and tension. It is still another thing to resolve both the questions and the action in such a wonderfully fulfilling way, satisfying revelations falling one upon the other, most of them unpredicted, until the long-hoped-for conclusion arrives, both satisfying and bittersweet, for by its very definition, a conclusion concludes.

Book One (The Final Empire) presents an awesome David vs. Goliath tale of epic proportions. Book Two (The Well of Ascension) deals with the aftermath, while showing that things in Book One might not have been exactly what they seemed. Book Three (The Hero of Ages) sets its sights upon the heavens themselves, and upon the weighty issues that plague anyone with a mind in this, our world. Questions that many people of faith may have uncomfortably wrestled with within themselves, in the quiet nights, never quite coming to a satisfying conclusion over... like the Rubic's Cube taken from the shelf now and then, given a few twists and turns, and then set back down again, unsolved.

Will this book (and series) impact you the same way it has me? Unknown. Perhaps it is merely great writing triggering my own issues, and combining in a way that leaves me with a wonderful mental aftertaste, both entertaining me and enlightening me at the same time. I don't know if you will receive them the same way, but I'm certainly glad I have read them. Honestly, Book Two was a bit of a letdown to me at the time, but having finished the series, I can see better now how that second section fit into the grand scheme. Throughout the series, the writing itself (as far as wordcraft) is solid and unobtrusive, the author content to stand back and let the story tell itself. This book is no exception; the dialog serves its purpose, the straight-forward action economical and clean and completely effective. The depth and magic here is what is said, more than how. It is not flawlessly written, beautifully polished or classic literature, by any stretch, but The Hero of Ages completes the series better than I'd ever hoped it would, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

This is why I read.

Summary: Excellent on many levels. 5/5 Thought-provoking, and a terrific ride at the same time.

7 comments:

Krista said...

I knew you'd like it! Or, at least, I hoped you would anyway! This was a wonderful review and by no means did you spoil anything!

Awesome, this is why Sanderon is my all time favorite....

Melissa (My World) said...

In reading your blog here I started to get all excited over this series again. I thought the same way when I finished this series, that I was over thinking and it would go away. Well, it does a little bit but I don't think it cooled down that much. The thoughts sparked by this series came right back. Brandon really did an amazing job with the different thought ideas in the books. I was amazed at what thoughts he had sparked for me. The way he weaved this who series, WOW! There is so much more to it than just a story to read.

I am glad you really enjoyed it.

Like Krista, this is whay Brandon is my favorite author. I can not wait till his next series comes out. I think the first book is Way of Kings.

kingphatcow said...

this post was NOT acceptable.

:-)

logankstewart said...

Amen. The magnitude of this series and the brilliance of the story makes it nearly as good as Pat Rothfuss' masterpiece, and I see how you've placed your "2009 Reads Thus Far" for these books. Great review. If you're wanting more Sanderson, I recommend Elantris. (I can't recommend Warbreaker yet, as I haven't read it, but I'm sure it's amazing.)

Melissa (My World) said...

Logan, Dave,

Elantris is awesome too.

I can recommend Warbreaker, and I will. I recommend Warbreaker!! Great story, great magic, great details, great great great...

Everything Sanderson does all over again. I think this guy is going the distance. He is AMAZING. (I can't think at the moment of a better word than amazing.)

Vye said...

Is that a dagger in Vin's left hand on the cover of the book? Looks a bit risky to me...

:-O

David Wagner said...

I will definitely be reading more Sanderson, but oddly enough, I want to draw it our a bit, as opposed to devouring them all, one upon another... like eating the steak interspersed with the side dishes, instead of just wolfing it right away...

Anyway, yeah, a night's sleep hasn't dampened my enthusiasm for the series. It's terrific.

And yeah, vye, that's a glass dagger... dangerously close to Elend's manhood... but he trusts her, so it's all good...