Warning: major spoilers below.
Okay. So, I have a feeling this review is going to turn into a rant. And there may be loose spoilers rampaging around - enter at your own risk, 'cause they're vicious.
First, take note of those stars. This book deserves every one of them. It's awesome. Honestly I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed The Final Empire, but . . . okay. I gave The Final Empire a 9/10, because everything about it was perfect except the romance. I'll give this one an 8.5/10, because if I gave it an 8 it would be four stars, which I can't allow, but it wasn't as good as TFE.
These are all opinions, by the way.
So. There were some parts of this book that I actually liked better than the best parts of TFE - the battle of Luthadel, Sazed's use of his metalminds, being able to see more of characters like Breeze and Clubs and Ham. Also, I loved Sazed and Tindwyl's romance. There are only a handful of romances I've ever read about that I actually liked, and this is one of them. It was very sweet. When I forced my mother to read TFE about a month ago, I told her that since Kelsier is gone, Sazed is my favorite character. She, knowing how I feel about most romances, smiled and said, "It's because he'll never fall in love, right?" I was indignant and I said, "Hey, he could!" Because you know, I think Sazed's a character who really needs to be loved. He's lonesome and melancholy, stuck all alone with his hundreds of beliefs. I loved Tindwyl as a character (even though she was often a bit hypocritical and contradictory) and I loved the way she softened up when she was with Vin or Sazed. She really was an amazing character.
I also loved the way Breeze changed. In the first book I loved his character, but he still annoyed me a lot of the time. In WoA I got to see a lot more of his personality and his motivations, and I love him so much now. He had better recover in the next book, dang it. And his friendship with Clubs was perfect - I've always adored Clubs, and this allowed me to see more of him than I otherwise would've been able to.
Dockson, on the other hand, took a distinct downward turn. he was annoying in this book. I never really loved him before, but he wasn't so self-centered and whiny in TFE, was he?
Oh, and I liked Allrianne. She was awesome there at the end.
And Oreseur. TenSoon, I mean. Wow, what a character! At first I didn't like him, but that was actually OreSeur I didn't like, because as soon as he came back as the dog, I was surprised at myself for starting to love him. He's amazing, and if he doesn't come back early in the next book I'm going to be angry.
And Zane was incredible. There's nothing else I can say. I adore the guy - I kind of hate him, but at the same time I absolutely love him. Complex and cold and lofty and clever and creepy - he was amazing. Really, truly amazing. (So of course, he died. Awesome scene, though.)
Now I'm going to talk about Marsh.
And now I'm going to complain about my least favorite thing in this book. Predictably, it was the romance.
No, I'm wrong. It wasn't the whole romance. It was half of it. Elend's half. I love Vin to pieces, okay? Even when she's being terribly stupid, I sympathize with her. She's an amazing character and I love the way she always tries so hard. I love the way she uses her powers, and I love the way she takes care of literally everyone else in the book. Except for her enemies, anyway. She's amazing. (And the way she killed Straff? Hehehe. I was waiting for that for over six hundred pages.)
And Elend is not amazing. I'm sorry. In the first book he was naive and silly and wasteful and bookish and kind of charming. I hated the romance in that book too, but it was mostly because of Vin and the insta-love, not him. I liked Elend.
In this book, Sanderson decides to make him king. He gets sterner. And tougher. And more prideful. And more grounded in reality. And he just loses that charm he had before. They talk about him stealing books from the library and being surrounded by piles of them, but throughout all seven-hundred-something pages of WoA, he never sits down to just read a book, unless it's research of some kind. That takes a lot out of his character.
Also, the repetitiveness. I should get my e-reader and search for the words "good man" to see how many times they applied it to Elend. I swear, he was called a "good man" by everyone in the book at least two hundred times. It's like Sanderson thought I'd forget that he's a "good man" if I didn't read about it every second page. And the worst part is, I can't even say "show, don't tell", because there was plenty of show. If I'd wanted to judge Elend by myself, I'd say he's a good guy, okay? There was evidence all over the place. But I was never really given the chance to decide for myself, because Sanderson whacked me over the head with Elend's goodness every few paragraphs.
Also, I'm going to say I hate the way Elend threw away all his ideals and hopes for the kingdom in the last thirty pages. It's like, he comes back to Luthadel and Vin says, "I made you emperor," and he accepts, and she says, "But what about letting the people choose?" and he JUST BRUSHES IT OFF AND SAYS THAT WAS A DUMB AND NAIVE IDEA. Whaaaa? Why did I have to read seven hundred pages of him repeating himself about his ideals, if he was just going to discard them there at the end? Hypocrite.
Also, Elend was just too.....perfect. Vin is an amazing character because she's full of flaws. She doesn't trust people. She lies all the time. She's afraid and insecure and she can be really brainless and pigheaded. I love her flaws, they make her who she is. Elend doesn't have this anymore. This book took each flaw he had - his carelessness, his pettiness, his wastefulness, his weakness - and took them all away, one by one. Now we have an Elend who is brave, charismatic, proud, commanding, handsome, honest, loyal, generous, loving, thoughtful, and pretty much "perfect" in every way.
It's annoying. And worst of all, he's obviously supposed to be a replacement for Kelsier. I mean, leader of the crew, main male character, secondary POV, everything points to it. I couldn't count how many times they compared him to Kelsier in the book, and it was always, "Well, you know, Kelsier was flawed. Kelsier made mistakes. Kelsier was stupid. Kelsier was a bad person. Kelsier shouldn't have done that. etc." And then they'd talk about Elend, and it would be, "Elend is wonderful. Elend is a good man. Elend is better than Kelsier. That was how Kelsier would do it, but we're better than him, so we do it Elend's way instead. Elend is a good man. Elend is so brave and so endearing. Elend is the best choice for this and this and this. We have Elend to lead us now, so since that horrible Kelsier person isn't around to get us into trouble, we should be fine. Elend is a good man. Elend will do a better job with this than anyone else could. Did we mention that Elend is a good man? BECAUSE HE IS. HE'S A GOOD MAN. HE'S A GOOD MAN."
I loved Kelsier, okay? There are only three books I've ever read that made me cry, and TFE was one of them. Because of Kelsier. I sobbed into a pillow for three hours, trying not to wake anyone else up because it was the middle of the night and they were asleep across the hall. THREE HOURS. I wouldn't cry if Elend died - I think I'd just be relieved.
And also, continuing Elend's perfection.....he's Mistborn? Really? There just happened to be a magic piece of metal that would turn him into a Mistborn and complete his perfection. Because he has to be better than Kelsier in every way, and he couldn't be unless he becomes a better Mistborn than Kelsier was. He couldn't be Vin's equal, he couldn't come flying to her rescue, unless he was Mistborn. I liked that Elend was weak and pathetic, I liked that Vin was constantly doing all the work to keep him alive, I liked the way she and everyone else had to protect him. It made him the weak link in the chain, and it was his only flaw. But then he has to learn to use a sword, of course, which makes him able to hold his own in a fight. And then, look! He's Mistborn now! He's PERFECT!
Ugh. I miss the real Elend. I'm so sick of this new version of him.
Also, Elend is so lovestruck and repetitive. He has an idea. So he repeats the idea over and over again, turns it over in his head, passes it out to the others so they can discuss it, and I have to hear about his idea constantly until it fails thirty pages later. Then he has a new idea, and it starts all over. He has ideals. I have to hear about his ideals and his hopes and his wishes for the people every page for seven hundred pages. He loves Vin. He talks about how much he loves Vin, and why he loves Vin, and why he's inadequate for Vin (but of course they made him Mistborn later, so that fixed his inadequacy), and why he's grateful to and for Vin, and how lucky he thinks he is to have her here. He talks about Vin's clothes a lot. I must have heard about Vin's button-up shirts at least twenty times, and several of those were from Elend's POV.
Honestly, everything I don't like about this series seems to come from Elend. I liked him in the first book, but the romance was still his fault. In this book, just everything about him annoys me. I don't hate him or anything, I just don't like him, and I kind of hate the way he's changed, if that makes sense.
I'm going to talk about the ending of this book briefly, before I finally shut up. The whole changing rubbing, changing metalminds, changing paper thing - it was brilliant that Sanderson hid that in there by telling us not to trust anything not written in metal, but I definitely feel betrayed by it. I mean, there was really no way for me to figure out the mystery, because I didn't have all the pieces of the puzzle. The rules of the world just suddenly changed, and even though it was brilliantly executed and I can't wait to see the effects in the next book, it did feel just a teensy bit cheap.
It probably sounds like I didn't enjoy the book - I did. I loved the book, actually. Its awesomeness is on a level all its own. If you ignore all the Elend stuff, it's almost perfect. There aren't many seven hundred page books that are worth every second, but this is one of them. It's amazing. You need to read it.
Just try to ignore Elend while you're doing it.