What an ending of the first Mistborn trilogy. Bravo, Sanderson! Bravo! Cheers to you too, Michael Kramer and your captivating Audible.
The Final Empire (book one) is a hero’s journey with the underdogs (Kelsier, Vin, and the crew) facing some overpowered tyrant (the Lord Ruler). The Well of Ascension (book two) is the unfettered teasing out of the political and military aftermath of toppling an empire. The Hero of Ages (book three) is the cosmic expansion, a war between gods and mortals. The first book can stand on its own, but the second blew wide open the epic that it needs the third book for closure. But what felt like ages, the third book dangled me in suspense until the very end. It’s an ending I neither expected nor wanted, but it’s one I’m satisfied with it—a sure sign of a good book, eh?
The Lord Ruler is dead, the Final Empire dismantled, and some fiendish and insidious power released from the Well of Ascension. The mist now come aggressively during daylight, and the ash fall more vigorously, blocking sunlight and blanketing crops. Some unlucky number of people fall ill when coming in contact with the mist—16% to be precise. The crops are failing and people everywhere are starving. Mayhem and complete annihilation seem imminent. Elend and Vin’s last glimmer of hope rest with the Lord Ruler’s five caches hidden throughout the land, each packed with enough food and resources to feed thousands for a year or two. It’s odd: a tyrant prepared emergency supplies for the people he oppressed? It seems he foresaw his fall and also the release of some greater evil. His chilling words to Vin—“You don’t know what I do for humanity… By killing me, you have doomed yourselves”—start to sound less arrogant and more sympathetic. What is the greater evil, and just how malicious is it?
Its name is Ruin, an intelligent force with a ravenous lust for destruction. Its counterpart is Preservation, an equally powerful force, and with whom Ruin had been locked in balance of struggle. Both are equally patience, waiting eons to bring their plans to fruition, but Ruin is more cunning and direct while Preservation more cautious and indirect. Ruin would infect and seize minds, drawing them towards a love for destruction. Ruin can rewrite and twist prophecies of old about the Hero of Ages (in such fashion Ruin tricked Vin to unleash it at the Well of Ascension). Preservation, on the other hand, seems to do nothing. The end is nigh: Ruin and Preservation, gods of unimaginable power, will unfold each of their plans—who will prevail? And will the Hero of Ages fall prey to Ruin or aid Preservation?
A feature I would not have picked up in reading but had in hearing is the voice for the excerpts at the head of each chapter. It is a unique voice, unmistakable for those who’ve heard Kramer narrate the previous two books. So, my advice is to hear the audiobooks with Kramer!