Review. Brandon Sanderson, The Well Of Ascension

How do you follow up a novel as brilliant as The Final Empire, the first in the Mistborn trilogy? I’ve read second books by authors who fail to live up to their first ones, which weren’t as amazing as The Final Empire was. So when I picked up The Well Of Ascension I wondered, is this a car crash waiting to happen of will Sanderson’s magic do the trick once again? Looking back now, I should have had more faith, cause while I don’t thing that The Well Of Ascension was as good as The Final Empire, it was still an excellent novel and if half the books I’ll ever read will come close to this one, I can count myself very lucky indeed.

The impossible has been accomplished. The Lord Ruler – the man who claimed to be god incarnate and brutally ruled the world for a thousand years – has been vanquished. But Kelsier, the hero who masterminded that triumph, is dead too, and now the awesome task of building a new world has been left to his young protégé, Vin, the former street urchin who is now the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and to the idealistic young nobleman she loves.
As Kelsier’s protégé and slayer of the Lord Ruler she is now venerated by a budding new religion, a distinction that makes her intensely uncomfortable. Even more worrying, the mists have begun behaving strangely since the Lord Ruler died, and seem to harbor a strange vaporous entity that haunts her.Stopping assassins may keep Vin’s Mistborn skills sharp, but it’s the least of her problems. Luthadel, the largest city of the former empire, doesn’t run itself, and Vin and the other members of Kelsier’s crew, who lead the revolution, must learn a whole new set of practical and political skills to help. It certainly won’t get easier with three armies – one of them composed of ferocious giants – now vying to conquer the city, and no sign of the Lord Ruler’s hidden cache of atium, the rarest and most powerful allomantic metal. As the siege of Luthadel tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

What do you do when you find out that everything you thought was right, didn’t turn out to be so? That is what Vin and her friends are going through here. After the defeat of the Lord Ruler and Kelsier’s death, things only seem to be starting. With the prophecy of the Hero of Ages as guidance, they set out to seek the Well of Ascension and set everything right for once and for all.
Whereas The Final Empire was more self-contained as a story, this one actually feels like a second book in a trilogy in the way that it deals with the aftermath of the first and builds up to the final installment. That is not to say that what happens here is trivial, in fact, it is anything but. While this may not be the most riveting story of the three, I do feel that this was necessary to understand everything that’s going on. Besides, it gives us quite some interesting things to ponder upon. What about Feruchemy? Whereas the first book primarily dealt with Allomancy, here, the second art and in doing so the Terris people get their well-deserved attention. Also, another interesting storyline is provided by OreSoeur, which I won’t go into any further because of spoilers. But if I didn’t pay all that much attention to the Kandra prior to this book, now I am really fascinated by who they are and what drives them and I can’t wait to learn more about them.
what happens here is trivial
The two biggest issues here, however, are the search for the Well of Ascension and the power that slumbers there, and the political stability of the Final Empire. I thought the former was very well done cause it gave way to the exploration of Vin as a character and allow her to experience confusing emotions and doubts about herself and everything surrounding her. The latter, the whole political situation, was a hard nut to crack for me. I don’t mind politicking and in fact, I am pro adding that to a book, but here the most of it was contained in the middle section of the book and it was so dense and hard to get through. I never really wanted to put the book aside and pick up something else, but the pacing really got slow there for a big part and it wasn’t until the end that things started picking up again. When things got going, it was going good – in a bad way – and although it wasn’t as big as it was in the previous book, the ending left me stunned and craving for more cause I only have a bunch more questions and never really got any answers. On the contrary, this story is becoming more and more complicated…
a hard nut to crack
So the plot wasn’t as gripping as it probably could have been due to the dense middle section of the book, but still the read was worthwhile for all things previously mentioned. Another aspect that really made up for the somewhat lesser plot were the characters. The great diversity of characters from the first book are still more or less present here and get some more depth. Especially Vin really blossoms as a character. Not so much in the way that she’s happy go lucky or something like that, but her character gets explored in a lot of ways and she’s growing towards womanhood in a beautiful and conflicted way. A nice addition to the cast is the character of Elend Venture. He was more of a side character previous to this novel, but now that he’s stepping onto the stage he complements the other characters already present and even though his blending in with the group isn’t as smooth as they all would like it to be, he’s quite and invaluable asset. Even more so, alongside Vin he too has to deal with a role that thrust upon him and in this he contrasts Vin so beautifully in the way they handle things.

This second book in the trilogy might be a bit harder to get through due to the dense politicking sometimes, but the pro’s really outweigh the cons here and you get so much in return for sticking with the characters all the way. With new questions added to the already existing amount and things looking bleaker than ever, no less than a powerful showdown of epic proportions is on its way.

★ ★ ★ ★

Find the way to ascension.


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