As is the case with many children, I was a picky eater growing up. There were a lot of things I simply wouldn’t eat. Meatloaf, for instance. I don’t recall eating it until I was in college, at which point I discovered a delicious dinner option that has been something I can throw out when I don’t feel like making something more complex. When I was young, I remember shunning it because “I didn’t like it.”
That’s kind of what these books are, for me. I tried the first book a couple times without success. And then, one day, I pushed through and finished it, and, of course, ended up thoroughly enjoying it. Now, having finished the third book, I can honestly say it’s one of the better series I’ve read in the last several years.
Brandon Sanderson is quietly being one of the better writers out there today. He publishes multiple books a year, and they are all solid works of speculative fiction. He’s prolific and reliable. And his books are just so damned precise. They aren’t upending the genre, he’s not shifting paradigms, but all his choices are well reasoned. He’s the kind of creator, I think, who doesn’t necessarily do anything better than everyone else, but does everything as well as anybody else.
In Hero of Ages, Vin and Elend have basically consolidated their power into an empire with few hold-outs. In the few areas still in rebellion, they’ve sent teams ahead to reconnoiter and prepare for their arrival. Sazed is still reeling from the events of The Well of Ascension and is doubting everything he had previously believed. Spook, formerly the lowest member of Kelsier’s gang, has come into his own in the rebel city of Urteau. And Ruin, the destructive force released from the Well of Ascension, is seeing his power and reach grow. The ashfalls are becoming more severe, the mists seem to be killing people, and hope is a rare commodity.
In any good trilogy, the characters reach their nadir in the second book, and have to dig their way out in the third. This series is little different, and there are time when everything looks bleak for these characters. And the loss of faith these characters have is a central theme in this book. Religion has played a large role in these books, but it all comes to a head as Sazed questions not only everything he’s believed, but his entire purpose in life.
It got to the point where I didn’t really know how Sanderson was going to end it.
Without giving away the ending, there is a serenity to it that I couldn’t imagine being more fulfilling. In the hands of a less capable storyteller, I don’t think it would’ve left me with such a feeling of serenity.
But, this is Brandon Sanderson we’re talking about.