Jefferson Smith's Reviews > The Hero of Ages

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
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's review
Feb 14, 2012

liked it
Read from February 14 to 19, 2012 — I own a copy

I have always had a problem with "prophecy-based" fantasy, because of the usual way prophecy plays out: the prophetic words are vague and equivocal, the characters choose the most obvious interpretation, the events unfold, and the prophecy turns out to have been correct, but in a way different from the obvious interpretation.

In the Mistborn series, however, culminating in Hero of Ages, Sanderson has tried to go one level deeper. I don't think it gives anything away to simply say that he turns the prophecies on end in a way I haven't seen done before, so kudos for that.

I also particularly like the magic system he's developed for this world, and he does an excellent job of exploring many of the implications of that system. There is still lots to explore, and so I am glad to see other books and series set in this same world, which I will likely read myself.

But having said all that, I think Mistborn has a few flaws as well, which become most evident here in Hero of Ages. My chief gripe is that the characters I grew fond of in Final Empire are not present in Hero. Sure, Vin, Elend and the rest are all here, but they're not the people I was rooting for when this all started. They've changed. They are no longer the underdogs. In short, they are too powerful to be sympathetic - powerful both politically and metaphysically. Consequently, it is harder to believe in the desperateness of their plight. Sanderson clearly recognizes this problem, because in Hero he has placed a greater focus on lesser characters to carry the story, and I suspect he does so precisely because of the power problem. As characters become more powerful in their magic, it becomes increasingly hard to believe that they are in any real trouble. The only solution then, is to ramp up the stakes to the point where entire worlds are at stake, requiring the awesome might of your near god-like protagonist. Which in turn takes the entire plot outside the reach of a typical reader's experience. We stop relating to them.

So Hero is quite a fun read, but ultimately for me, a bit unfulfilling, because what do I care about the anxieties of gods?

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