As we learned in book two, Things Are Not Alright in the end. Things were bad in book two, but in book three things are quite literally falling apart. It's up to our erstwhile heros to figure out how to save the world from the machinations of Ruin, who we learn early on was the power released by Vin at the Well of Ascension. Ruin's balancing power, Preservation, has been growing steadily weaker over the centuries thus allowing Ruin's influence in and on the world to grow stronger. But a key element of his power is missing, and if I said much more I'd be giving away part of the not-too-surprising ending. While Sanderson tries to disguise the two powers as part of nature, and therefore necessary, the conflict is still between that of good and evil, black and white (Vin wears black frequently, just as Elend wears white. Coincidence? Apparently). Because of this, the conflict and its resolution are fairly simple. It just takes forever to get there mainly because his characters are somewhat dense when it comes to making connections (his readers, however, are not and this can be very frustrating).The narrative focuses more on Elend, Sazed, and Spook (the little nobody errand boy from book one) Sazed spends most of the book being depressed and whining about both the loss of his faith and the death of Tindwyl. Magically, Sazed discovers his faith (literally, the lost religion of the Terris people) has been hiding right under his nose the whole time, and his existential/spirtual crisis is resolved by the end of the book in a very ironic manner (it was laughable, almost). As I said in my review of book 1, Sanderson is a sentimentalist, so you can still be relatively sure that ultimately, every thing will work out in the end. Vin has apparently discovered her place in the world and found the balance between the various aspects of her past, present and future (see Book 2). Now Elend has to find the balance between his youthful idealism and the ruthlessness he needs to govern the world (which actually seems relatively small, thinking about it). Not only does he have to figure out who he is as a ruler and a man, he also has to figure out who he is as a mistborn, and to a lesser extent, as a husband. A few exchanges with Vin, now his wife, at opportune moments and a visit from the mist spirit help him figure this out and resolve his "issues". Good for him. At least he's not as whiny about it as Carey's Imriel was (see the second trilogy of the Kusheline Legacy books; I barely made it through them because of this). Sanderson hints that there is something special about Elend's mistborn abilities which, although he is new at it, are more powerful than Vin's. I kind of wish he would have done something more with that. In fact, I wouldn't mind a book from the Evil Lord Ruler's perspective. Lastly, we are stuck with Spook, who was the nobody errand boy from book one. His main issue in the book is just that; he's a nobody who wants to be a somebody (isn't there a song/book/movie about just this?). So we get to deal with his whininess and dawning psychosis (which, we come to learn, isn't really his fault). I may have just given something away, but if you're reading or have read this novel and you didn't realize at least part of what was going on with Spook, well then, I pity you. (Yes, that's kind of mean, but come on, really?) Spook is hanging out in the Northern Dominance, former seat of Straff Venture, Elend's father, and the crew is divided among Luthadel, Urteau, and Fadrex city. This helps the narrative out quite a bit, as the second book was stuck in siege mode, both of the city and of the reader's brain. It's here, in fact, that Sazed gets his big revelation, which was more of a face-palm moment for me. That's the thing about this book, about all of these books. They're less than satisfying on the intelligence level because an attentive reader can see his big ah-ha moments and plot twists coming a mile away and because he gives them to us, especially after the midpoint of the given book in the form of the chapter prefaces, which in each book have been excerpts from another book, usually one that is relevant to the action of the novel. The first book has one written by Alendi, who was presumed to be the Lord Ruler; the second book had one from the real Lord Ruler, and the third is from God, apparently (that will make more sense when you finish the series). In the other books, there actually was some tension between the two narratives; in the last book, as soon as a question is raised, the excerpt very nearly answers it, so there was very little tension. This was annoying, and nails home the fact that Sanderson relies too heavily on explication in these books. I wish I could give half stars, because I would probably place this at a 3.5. I did enjoy it, and I have enjoyed the series as a whole. But this is not the kind of book that makes you think, even though it clearly wishes it was. Maybe this kind of writing is more common in the genre; I'm not well versed enough to know. But most books, at least the kind of books I like, let the reader think for him or her self. There is a feeling of discovery in those kinds of books and it's what makes them stick with you. I will keep these books, but will not likely return to them. I will, however, recommend them to people who just want a good book to escape into or kill a weekend with. When I want something heavy, something that will force me to read carefully and think deeply, I'll look elsewhere.