"A house without books is like a room without windows." -Horace Mann

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Hero of Ages

by Brandon Sanderson

I just read one of the best fantasy trilogies I've read in a long time!  I actually already reviewed the first book in the series, Mistborn, if you want to get some idea of where I started.  However, I just HAD to write about the third book of the series, which I just finished yesterday.  It was so good.  It made me want to re-read it all again.  And it made me want to re-read my Lord of the Rings trilogy as well.  Two very good signs.

Most of the fantasy series I have ready of late have started off with a pretty good first book, but then die off from there.  As much as I enjoyed Hunger Games, the 2nd and 3rd books weren't quite as good as the first in my opinion.  The Mistborn Trilogy however defied my expectations.  I enjoy the first book and appreciated its complexity, its basis in some kind of physical/scientific type "magic" that is somewhat believable, and I appreciated the depths of the characters.  Little did I know what all that would become.

In similar fashion to The Lord of the Rings by the great J.R.R. Tolkien, the first book is simpler than the others, does a lot of set up, and gets you involved in the characters themselves.  The second book, The Well of Ascension, is the transition story, where everything feels like its all going to fall apart and you're not sure they're really going to ever make it.  But you can't quite beat the final third book, The Hero of Ages, which brings it all together.  Not in a neat little "happily ever after" package, but in a complex coming together of all the things the author has been setting up over the course of the series.  I liked that I guessed a few key happenings before they occurred, but others threw me completely for a loop and literally made me gasp.  I think I may have actually talked out loud to a few of the characters.

For all the violence in this series (and it is fairly violent), I most appreciated the concepts of leadership, faith, what is "right", and good vs. evil that the author really delves into.  He leaves moments of time within the book where the characters really think about what the believe and what they believe in, instead of just going from battle to battle.  It gave me much to think about, and I don't often find that in modern day fantasy novels.  Again, a reminder of Tolkien.  Don't get me wrong, I can't say that is on the level of Tolkien writing for the writing itself, but the overall scope of the story is beautiful, terrifying, intriguing, and refreshing.

I love the feeling of finishing an excellent book.  But I hate the feeling of now having to go find another book that I can only hope will be as good.  Wish me luck!

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