Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Hero of Ages, by Brandon Sanderson

The Hero of Ages, by Brandon Sanderson

This novel concluded one of the best fantasy trilogies I’ve read in years. Affectations that seemed so casual in earlier novels were shown not only to have a deeper meaning but be critical to the plot. No character is safe, and right up to the last pages it isn’t clear what sort of victory the protagonists will achieve. After all, how can mere mortals fight an omnipotent being? My one quibble would be with the length of time it took the principals to figure out what the numbers of mist-affected people meant. Our otherwise smart heroes comment on the anomaly more than once, but almost willfully ignore the obvious meaning. A minor issue with an otherwise masterful plot, though. At over 700 pages, I simply couldn’t put this down.

As with previous volumes, the underlying discussions give another deeper level to the book; in this case, an examination of what makes people so willing to accept religion. “Most [religions] taught about a god or gods, yet—again—had little justification for their teachings. And every single one of them was riddled with inconsistencies and logical fallacies.” So why do otherwise intelligent people embrace sophistic orthodoxies? Tradition and societal norms are certainly factors, but Sanderson seems to decide simply that religion helps people through the trying times, that it is a comfort in the face of the unknown. “To believe, it seemed, someone had to want to believe.” Faith is making a choice, not something forced upon someone. Interesting that I get more insight into spirituality from a fantasy novel than any number of more “serious” efforts.

First Sentence:
Fatren squinted up at the red sun, which hid behind its perpetual screen of dark haze.

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