This one is interesting to consider on re-read. I read it pretty early in my first journey through Sanderson’s work. It was the third, I think, after Elantris and The Way of Kings, and I wasn’t anywhere used to his shenanigans yet. It seems much tamer and less complex the second time around, especially since I’ve been swimming in the nonsense going on in the Stormlight Archive for four enormous books now (beautiful, wonderful nonsense). Parts of it were less interesting this time, and parts took on new significance, as do most good books on re-read.
Just to get it out of the way, I was less impressed with the sections detailing Vin learning Allomancy this time around. I’ve spent six and a half books in this world now and I’m very familiar with it, so I just kept getting impatient during the scenes where Kelsier and the others were giving lessons to Vin. There were some good moments mixed in those training scenes to do with character stuff, but mostly they were just worldbuilding, and I think Sanderson has gotten better at mixing the two in his later books. That’s not to say those scenes were bad! They just didn’t play as well for me as a second time reader. This is one reason I’ve dropped down the rating to 4.5 stars. The other is that I now know where this series is going (a wonderful conclusion) and I can’t help comparing the end of The Hero of Ages to this book.
The stuff I really enjoyed on re-read was mostly my new perspectives on Vin and Kelsier, our main characters. I did not feel nearly so conflicted about Kelsier’s morality the first time through. I, like Vin and the others, was a little starstruck by him and his presence. This time, I found it really satisfying to dig into that persona and see what was behind it, especially knowing how the book ends. I also really enjoyed seeing who Vin was at the beginning. I remembered her as a very confident, badass young woman with immense power. But she is very much not that at the beginning! She is the opposite of that, in fact. I really did not remember just how much she grew across this trilogy.
And, of course, I got a lot of satisfaction out of seeing all the clues to the trilogy’s end that I completely missed the first time.
The audio performance by Michael Kramer was great. Do recommend.
[4.5 stars, rounded up]