The Hero of Ages is the third and final volume of the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. It is preceded by The Final Empire, and Well of Ascension.The Hero of Ages is the prophesied savior of the Terris people, foretold to find and give up the power at the Well of Ascension, in a selfless act to save the world from the Deepness. However, the Terris prophecies proved to be altered, in a ruse intended to allow escape from imprisonment, by a force named Ruin that wants the complete destruction of the world.A mist spirit trying to help Vin and Sazed find the truth of the twisted prophecy, attempts to make Vin keep the power from the Well, by deliberately wounding Elend, but believing in the prophecy, she releases it instead of saving Elend. In the Chamber of Ascension were once nuggets of pure Allomancy, the power of Preservation itself, fractions of the power in the Well, which changes those who ingest them into Mistborn. With no power to save the dying Elend, Vin is convinced by the mist spirit to give a remaining bead of Preservation to Elend.Ruin wanted the world to be destroyed in the blink of an eye but his power was too weakened by his body having been taken and hidden by Preservation. Ruin became obsessed with finding his hidden body. Freedom from the Well of Ascension enabled Ruin to directly affect the world more, with the most destructive results in the form of increased ashfall from the ashmounts and growing earthquakes breaking the world apart; Ruin focused most of his energy in the last days to geological decay, while also influencing more people and controlling entire koloss armies. He used his thousand years of imprisonment to strategize the timing of the Lord Ruler's downfall to occur when Preservation's power returned to the Well of Ascension, followed by his being freed a few years later.The Lord Ruler, in preparation of such an event, created storage caches containing valuables such as food and water in cave complexes beneath certain cities, each one providing directions to the next. As Vin and Elend struggle to consolidate the remaining outposts of humanity, they search in the storage caches for hints left by the Lord Ruler and for the atium stash. Journeying from cache to cache, the world itself begins to crumble, ash spewing forth in greater quantities and the mists claiming more and more people. The last two unconquered cities are Fadrex City, which has reverted to the Lord Ruler's old structure of mass oppression, and Urteau, the rebel city where the Skaa are free, the nobility overpowered, and a former commoner titled the Citizen rules with increasing violence.Sazed tries to establish diplomatic relations with the people of Urteau, while continuing to struggle with the death of his love, the Terriswoman Keeper Tindwyl. He studies religions, but has no faith and yearns to find a religion that makes sense to him. He and Breeze try to help Elend secretly take over Urteau, where Spook has developed strange abilities, and started a new revolution. TenSoon is imprisoned and sentenced to death by the kandra elders, while still trying to convince them that the kandra prophecies of the world ending are now happening, and that they must work together with the humans to save the world.Vin and Elend try to conquer the city of Fadrex City and discover more about how their world works. They discover patterns in the numbers of people dying after being exposed to the mists, as well as secrets regarding the koloss, the kandra, and the Inquisitors, but fearing that Ruin will discover their plans, are unable to discuss their plans with each other. As the days grow hotter and the mists stronger, Vin and Elend encounter more and more dangers. Yomen, the King of Fadrex City, captures Vin. Elend, left without any choice, takes another koloss army under his control, but the last remnants of Preservation appear to him, warning him to not attack the city, using mime. On the verge of the attack, Vin escapes, as Ruin reveals his ultimate control over the koloss. They attack Elend and Yomen's human armies, but before he can destroy them, Vin leads Ruin away to Luthadel. There, Marsh and the final Inquisitors battle Vin, and on the verge of her death, she ascends to become Preservation, trapped with Ruin to watch the world.The kandra finally accept their doom, and Sazed finds his faith in the Hero of the Ages. Elend leads the last of humanity to the Kandra homeland, the Pits of Hathsin, where Ruin's body is stored. Ruin has been fooling them into leading him to his body, which turns out to be the atium stash, hidden in the Kandra homeland all along. Surrounded, and outnumbered, Elend, having worked this out, and Preservation's plan to give him an army of Atium Mistings by using the mists to snap them, prepares to fight. He leads a desperate battle against the koloss, in vain. Marsh appears again, and is directly controlled by Ruin, his powers immense. Elend faces him nonetheless, and Vin aids him, giving him unlimited metals and another power to match Marsh, all that she can break through Ruin's control to pass on. Elend battles Marsh in a fierce duel, ending when he realizes he can't win, and burns atium with duralumin, dealing Marsh a fatal blow, but taking his axe to the chest. Defeated, he reveals that his soldiers burnt all of Ruin's body, the Atium, in the battle, so now, he can never win. Vin realizes that Preservation gave of himself to create mankind so that mankind would be able to manifest both Preservation's and Ruin's ability to create and destroy. Having both abilities within her, Vin attacks Ruin directly, killing herself/Preservation. But in the eternal balance that is Preservation and Ruin, Vin's/Preservation's death destroys Ruin.Vin and many others initially thought she was the Hero of Ages, but it is revealed to be the Terris Keeper Sazed. This revelation, and the ambiguous prophesied descriptions, eventually showed differences not matching Vin's character. One major prophecy of, "The Hero will bear the future of the world on his arms", referred to Sazed's pre-Ascension Terris Keeper knowledge through his Feruchemical copperminds on his arms. He uses this knowledge, along with the combined power of Preservation and Ruin, to help reshape the world as a god, re-aligning the sun and planets to stabilize the world, changing the red volcanic ashfall ecology into a new paradise of blue skies, green foliage, gentle warming sun and rainbows of flowers.
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