Mistborn: The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

the hero of ages

Bane of Kings reviews the stunning conclusion to the original Mistborn Trilogy, The Hero of Ages, by Brandon Sanderson, published by Gollancz in the UK.

“An epic conclusion that reinforces the fact that Brandon Sanderson is one of my favourite fantasy authors out there. Jaw-dropping stuff.” ~The Founding Fields

Do not read this review unless you have read the first two novels in the Trilogy, The Final Empire and The Well of Ascension, as there are spoilers for the previous books in this series. 

And so it ends. Three books, a lot of reading and a lot of catching up later, Brandon Sanderson’s finale to the first three Mistborn novels and the conclusion of Vin and Elend’s story arc – The Hero of Ages ends with a bang rather than a whimper, and proves why he’s one of the best living fantasy authors alongside George RR Martin and Joe Abercrombie. It’s not often that you read a book with more than 500 pages that you find yourself struggling to put down.

Who is the Hero of Ages?

To end the Final Empire and restore freedom, Vin killed the Lord Ruler. But as a result, the Deepness—the lethal form of the ubiquitous mists—is back, along with increasingly heavy ashfalls and ever more powerful earthquakes. Humanity appears to be doomed.

Having escaped death at the climax of The Well of Ascension only by becoming a Mistborn himself, Emperor Elend Venture hopes to find clues left behind by the Lord Ruler that will allow him to save the world. Vin is consumed with guilt at having been tricked into releasing the mystic force known as Ruin from the Well. Ruin wants to end the world, and its near omniscience and ability to warp reality make stopping it seem impossible. She can’t even discuss it with Elend lest Ruin learn their plans!

I couldn’t put this novel down. I’ve read a lot of epic fantasy novels this year including the entirety of the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson and I can safely say that The Hero of Ages is easily among my top 5, due to several reasons. The level of world building and depth that Sanderson puts into this series is a very enjoyable one, and you can tell that he hasn’t made this ending up on the spot. This was planned, and I am really glad to see that Sanderson’s conclusion has met the promise set by the last two books, and given us a series that I’m not likely to forget in a while. And it’s not even over yet. Well, the adventures of Vin and Elend are. We won’t be seeing anymore of them especially after the titanic conclusion that will leave the reader breathless, but a new story by Sanderson set in the future of the Mistborn world, The Alloy of Law, is a novel that I set an aim to myself to read before the end of this year, but now – I don’t really want to.

I mean, don’t get me wrong – I loved this trilogy and think it’s one of the best things that I’ve ever read, but do I risk reading a novel without the characters that I’ve grown to love and hate over this trilogy? Is it worth it introducing us to new characters in a new setting, taking a risk? I know it’s Brandon Sanderson, and I know how awesome he is – but I’m still a little hesitant. Do I risk it? For those who have read The Alloy of Law and the trilogy, let me know – do I read Sanderson’s latest Mistborn book or leave the trilogy as a trilogy?

But this isn’t about whether I should pick out The Alloy of Law or not. This is about The Hero of Ages, and let me tell you – it’s an excellent novel. Back at the end of The Final Empire I was wondering how Sanderson would manage to make the premise of “What if the Chosen One failed” to span out an entire trilogy especially when you kill off your Dark Lord at the end of the first novel. Sanderson has quenched any doubt that I had with this book, and I loved how he brought Vin’s story to a close. The female Mistborn, wife of Elend Venture and former Skaa orphan, is a character that has changed dramatically over the course of this trilogy and her and her husband’s story arc really finishes in style as Sanderson gives the book and its characters stunning conclusion. And don’t expect everybody to make it out as well, as Sanderson pulls several twists over the course of this book that I couldn’t see coming.

This novel is utterly compelling, and if you haven’t read any of Sanderson’s previous work and are disregarding my warning that I placed at the beginning of the review, I strongly suggest that you go back and read The Final Empire ASAP. It’s the beginning of an epic journey that comes to a great conclusion in this book, and there’s a reason why this trilogy is my third favourite trilogy/series ever written, beating Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files,  tying with Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien and falling in just behind A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin and The Culture by Iain M. Banks. These are all series that I’m struggling to pick flaws in, they’re so just goddamned brilliant. Sure, A Song of Ice and Fire and Lord of the Rings may have problems with their pacing in places, but they’re still epic books, and the pacing issue has been expertly solved by Brandon Sanderson here, the book manages to keep you flicking through the pages and you can never quite put it down, even though you know it’s midnight and you’ve got to get up at quarter to seven the next day.

This is the book where everything falls into place. The final act is a stunning conclusion to the first Mistborn Trilogy, and for me I think, the arc of Vin and Elend will always be my favourite if I choose to pick up anymore Mistborn novels. It’s epic, and I think, along with The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks and A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin, one of my best reads of 2012 from a novel that wasn’t released in 2012. Epic stuff. If I could give a 6/5 to this book then I would.

Verdict: 5/5

The Mistborn Series: The Final Empire, The Well of AscensionThe Hero of Ages, The Alloy of Law,

More by Brandon Sanderson: Elantris, Warbreaker, The Way of Kings, The Emperor’s Soul (Novella), Legion (Novella).

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer