Friday, April 6, 2012

The Writer's View: Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

From Goodreads: Who is the Hero of Ages?
To end the Final Empire and restore freedom, Vin killed the Lord Ruler. But as a result, the Deepness---the lethal form of the ubiquitous mists---is back, along with increasingly heavy ashfalls and ever more powerful earthquakes. Humanity appears to be doomed.
Having escaped death at the climax of The Well of Ascension only by becoming a Mistborn himself, Emperor Elend Venture hopes to find clues left behind by the Lord Ruler that will allow him to save the world. Vin is consumed with guilt at having been tricked into releasing the mystic force known as Ruin from the Well. Ruin wants to end the world, and its near omniscience and ability to warp reality make stopping it seem impossible. She can’t even discuss it with Elend lest Ruin learn their plans!
The conclusion of the Mistborn trilogy fulfills all the promise of the first two books. Revelations abound, connections rooted in early chapters of the series click into place, and surprises, as satisfying as they are stunning, blossom like fireworks to dazzle and delight. It all leads up to a finale unmatched for originality and audacity that will leave readers rubbing their eyes in wonder, as if awaking from an amazing dream.

The Writer's View:

I have not cried this hard since reading The Book Thief. Seriously, it was way too late at night, and I was listening to the Hero of Ages on my MP3 player. I just laid there in bed sobbing my eyes out as the book ended. I totally freaked out my cat. It was great.


It was so great, in fact, that I rewound and replayed the end. Which just led to more sobbing and more digruntlement from my feline.

I absolutely love the Mistborn trilogy. It is one of my favorite series of all times. Sanderson is a master at characterization and story telling. If I could be have a super power, I would want to be a Mistborn. The romance between Vin and Elend throughout the series is epic; as far as I'm concerned, their story is one of the most romantic I've ever read. There's barely any kissing, let alone sex, but their relationship is so complex and loving, it's amazing. I'm getting teary eyed just thinking about it. Sigh.

Strangely, as much as I adored this book, there was one technique Sanderson used that I didn't particularly care for.

Let the readers see the horse race

You buy your tickets for the horse races at the county fair. You place your bets, take your seat. As soon as the first race begins, your friend covers up your eyes and doesn't let you see until the race is over. Sort of annoying, right? I mean, the whole point in going to the races is to SEE the horses race, right?

There were quite a few scenes like this in Hero of Ages. There was all this amazing build-up to a climactic scene . . . then, just before we can see the hero work his vodoo, CUT SCENE. Flash forward to a point in time post-heroic event. We never get to actually SEE the hero working vodoo. This was done quite a few times, much to my frustration.

Now granted, these books are LONG. I can only assume that some climactic scenes were skipped because of this. I got to see the horse races that really counted. But I would have liked to see ALL the races, you know? I mean, I invested over 120 hours listening to all three audio books. What would another few hours have been to SEE the heroics of my beloved characters?

I take away this important lesson: if I'm going to take the time to cultivate a heroic scene, I need to let reader experience it to its fullest. Otherwise, it's just a disappointment.

I know, it's lame to pick on a book that I totally love. But I'm here to write about what I learn, and this was my most signifcant takeaway in the form of craft. Please don't let this deter any of you from reading this awesome series.

4 comments:

  1. I need to read the Mistborn books! I still have every intention of doing so. Your review won't deter me--don't worry.

    But, I get what you're saying in the review. That would be pretty annoying not to get to see what's going on that's so important in the story. I can't think of any, but I'm sure I've experienced this before.

    It's not lame to pick on a book that you love. I do it all the time with all the stories I love. I love that they are not perfect, despite how epic they are. Makes it feel more real, and the author more human.

    Very nice review, Camille!

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  2. WOW! How come I've never heard of this series before? It actually sounds a little like a book I've had in my mind to write for a while now! There's nothing better than the complex romantic relationships. Just glad there doesn't seem to be a love triangle in sight. I really do understand your frustration at the cut scenes. Especially when it's been built up so much. Kinda reminds me of the cut scenes in The Hunger Games books. Wasn't happy about those at all!

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  3. @ Cathy - Can't wait to hear what you think of the Mistborn books!

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  4. @ Lan - these really are great books!

    I forgot that Collins did quite a bit of this in Mocking Jay. It drove me nuts. Everytime something cool was about the happen, Katniss went unconscious.

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