The Hero of Ages, and its narrative follows about a year after the end of the second book, The Well of Ascension. Since the overthrow of the Lord Ruler, the world has been hastening towards its end. The ash from the active volcanos that has been raining down slowly for a millenium is now coming down like never before, smothering the land with its incessant accumulation. The mists that were once relegated to the nights, are now lingering longer into the day. More than just an effect that chokes out the sun, they are somehow responsible for killing those who get caught in them. Violent earthquakes, marauding savage monsters, civil unrest, lack of food and clean water, all seem to spell doom for the planet and its inhabitants. Emperor Elend Venture is trying his best to keep his world intact, from imploding in upon itself. However, he is only human and still learning to be what he has become. As soon as he puts out one fire, another four or five spring up. He is spread far too thin.
Elend's wife Vin, who assassinated the Lord Ruler, is following her own path. She has become convinced that she is the Hero of Ages described in the myths of her people. Left with only scant details whose missing pieces she is trying to fill in, she finds herself completely caught up in and overwhelmed by situations and forces far beyond her grasp. However, as the end draws near, she begins to glimpse at least some semblance of reason and purpose to mysteries that she has encountered again and again since her childhood. She was chosen as a special vessel, with a critical purpose toward saving humanity. But is Vin the legendary Hero, who will come upon the land in might and overwhelming power, or is there another soul more nuturing and patient who draws upon her strength that will be the savior of the land and its peoples?
I found the Mistborn series to have a power and pull like few other fantasy stories that I have read. Sanderson has developed a complete and fully fleshed out world, where his mythology and his ars arcanum hold in such a satisfying and organic manner. The characters that he developed were wholly three-dimensional to me and they fit naturally into their setting and their powers. Furthermore, his pacing and his layered story development meshed perfectly with his over-arching purpose and goals. Sanderson has said, "An author's ability to solve conflict satisfactorily with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic." To his credit, Sanderson understands this principle and it is apparent in how he unfolds his tale. I highly recommend this series.
Sanderson is now working on and planning other stories in his Mistborn world. The first book in his Wax and Wayne trilogy, entitled The Alloy of Law, takes places some one hundred years after this story. Other releases are planned for the next several years.