“This isn’t about good or evil. Morality doesn’t even enter into it. Good men will kill as quickly for what they want as evil men — only the things they want are different.”
So says the mystical being who appears to be the ultimate antagonist of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy. And, along with the first two books, the final installment in the trilogy brilliantly weaves a dark, fantastical world with painfully realistic characters who make us question the core of good and bad. If you handed me a book and told me it was ultimately about a mystical force hellbent on ending the world as we know it, I would naturally assume that that force was the antagonist. The big bad guy. The evildoer who gets a high off of power, or somehow otherwise profits from the apocalypse.
If you then asked me why destruction is inherently evil, I’d have to pause to think.
That, my friends, is exactly what Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy does. It constantly makes us question doctrines we may otherwise take for granted.
What really is good versus evil?
Are aristocratic nobles inherently bigoted? Are oppressed peoples inherently innocent?
Is logical reasoning always sound? What about raw gut instinct?
Is faith naivete? Or an open-minded necessity?
The fantasy trilogy brilliantly tackles these hard-hitting questions, and more. As I discussed in my book reviews for book one and book two, Sanderson does a grade-A job of crafting an elaborate fantasy universe, fleshing out three-dimensional characters, and on top of that, making the reader question his or her moral compass.
Let’s all stand up and slow clap Mr Sanderson, shall we?
Now, back to the book review for the third book in the trilogy, The Hero of Ages. Taken by itself, I must admit that the book begins rather sluggishly. Once it picks up its pace, after about 100 pages, though, boy is it a page-turner!
In this book we see the world as we know it dying. Suffocating beneath piles of ash spewed from volcanoes, shaken by earthquakes, deprived of sunlight by a cloak of mist. Oh, not to mention political upheaval and war across the world.
I obviously can’t discuss the climax too much without revealing the plot arc of the entire trilogy, but I will say that the final book brilliantly showcases Sanderson’s masterfully crafted fantasy universe. A universe which, if you read it described in bullet points, might seem a bit contrived and whimsical, but which, in execution is deep, thoughtful, logical.
In fact, more than the vivid descriptions, more than the fleshed out characters, more than the suspenseful plot — one of the grandest accomplishments of this series is how Sanderson keeps the esoteric magic system from being hand-wavy. It all fits logically together, from the magic to the godlike beings to the fantastical creatures.
Add to that the series’ subtle way of making one question morality itself, I cannot stress enough how amazing this trilogy is. Go. Get thee to a bookstore now. Read the Mistborn trilogy.
Until next time,