The Well of Ascension

The Well of Ascension, book two of the Mistborn trilogy, and an all around good book.  I gushed enough about how much I like Sanderson’s writing in the review for the first book, so I’m not going to go over it all again here.  I am going to give a big warning up front though.  There is no way to talk about this book without giving huge spoilers for the first book.  So if you haven’t read the first Mistborn book, A: what are you waiting for?  It’s a fantastic book.  And B: make sure you read it before you start looking into reviews for the second book.

Book Stats

763 pages

Fantasy

Second book in the series (sequel to Mistborn: The Final Empire)

Characters

Vin of course is back in this book, and she’s every bit as well written as she was in the first book.  It’s interesting to watch in this book as she tries to figure out what her place is in the kingdom that has arisen since the Lord Ruler’s death (I told you, big spoilers).  It’s interesting to watch as she tries to get the various parts of her life to work together.  This book also has to fill the void left by Kelsier from the first book, and it does that by having a large portion of the book told from the viewpoints of Elend and Sazed.  I really like Elend as a character, and in part that’s because he reminds me a lot of myself.  He’s very well educated, but almost completely lost when dealing with people.  He has a lot of really good ideas about the way things should be done, but doesn’t really know how to implement them with other people.  He also gets thrust into a position of power in the book and has to learn how to use the power that he’s been given.  Sazed is another interesting character in this book, he has a very unique way of looking at the world because of his scholarly upbringing.  But he is also somewhat of a rebel within his people, and he shows this by constantly getting involved in things that he really shouldn’t be getting involved with.  Much like with the first book, I really like all of the characters in this book, they’re all well rounded and compliment each other nicely (who didn’t have fun watching Breeze and Ham go back and forth in the first book?).  There are also a couple of viewpoints from the people who are besieging Luthadel.  Straff Venture is given some screen time, but the most interesting villain who gets a viewpoint in this book is easily his son and Elend’s half-brother Zane.  Zane is a full mistborn, and he’s also completely insane, it’s a fun mix.

Setting

Mostly in the city of Luthadel, although there are sections from the surrounding areas as well.

Plot

The basic premise of this book is brilliant.  What happens after the good guys win?  Well, in this book, their city is quickly besieged by 3 different armies.  The result of this is that there is a lot of political intrigue and maneuvering between Elend and the attacking kings.  Too much of this can quickly get pretty boring, but there are a lot of other things going on while this is taking place.  Early on Vin and Elend find that there is a traitor in their midst, and the search for the traitor is a long running subplot throughout the book.  One of the more humorous parts of the book is watching Vin learn to deal with the fact that she has become something of a deity to many of the people of Luthadel.  Kelsier’s stunt at the end of the first book where he seemed to come back from the dead has made him something of a god to the skaa of Luthadel.  Since Vin was his apprentice, she also holds a high place in the Church of the Survivor.

Enjoyment

There is a lot going on in this novel, and it’s kind of hard to get into all of it without spoiling some parts later in the book.  So it’s time for something I don’t remember doing very often on my blog, I’m going to talk about some of the themes that occur in this book, because there are plenty of those.  One of the themes at the forefront is somewhat of a continuation from the first book, that of learning to trust other people.  Vin has made great steps from the beginning of the first book to the beginning of this one, but in a different landscape she starts to wonder whether Elend really loves her or what she is able to do to help him run the kingdom.  Zane really helps to throw a wrench in Vin’s life because he understands an aspect of her life that Elend can’t, that of being a mistborn.  The central aspect of Elend’s storyline is about learning what really makes a good king, and then trying to fulfill that role.  Sazed also has a couple of strong themes running through his storyline.  The first part of his arc involves learning to be more assertive and to not simply live to serve other people, which he has been doing for his entire life.  As a scholar of religions, Sazed is also pressed to really consider what faith is several times throughout this book, and it’s something that will continue into the next book as well.

This is a deep book with a lot of interesting characters and a lot of interplay between the various story lines.  The one very small complaint that I have about this book is that there is a massive cliffhanger at the end of the book.  If you had to wait a year from when this book came out until the third book did it would be really annoying.  Fortunately, book 3 is already out and I can start re-reading it tomorrow.

Overall Grade

A wonderful sequel that expands on everything from the first book while doing a great job in setting up the third book.

10/10

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4 Comments

  1. hannahrose42

     /  April 24, 2012

    I have to agree about the ending. It was so intense that I don’t think I could have survived waiting for the third book to come out. That is one benefit I see to reading this series now rather than a few years ago. I also agree about Sazed — I really enjoyed his POV, but I have to say, Zane was easily my favorite point of view to read. God’s cryptic message to him at the end of the book really intrigued me. I have a feeling Sanderson isn’t going to explore it… but I hope he does.

    Reply
    • I’m assuming you’re referring to the last line from Zane’s last viewpoint correct? It isn’t specifically explained as it directly relates to Zane, but you’ll be able to figure out what it was after reading the third book.

      Reply
      • hannahrose42

         /  April 24, 2012

        Good. Yes, that is what I meant. I have a guess now that I’ve read a bit of the third book.. but I will wait patiently until it gets cleared up.

  1. April 2012 Month in Review « Reviews and Ramblings

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