The Well of Ascension
by Brandon Sanderson
Vin, the street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and Elend Venture, the idealistic young nobleman who loves her, must build a healthy new society in the ashes of an empire.
Three separate armies attack.
As the siege 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.
This isn’t news anymore, I am in love with the way Brandon Sanderson writes, I won’t repeat it. Hopefully. After the absolutely amazing experience that was The Final Empire, I read The Well of Ascension and boy, this book did not disappoint. I am starting to think that Sanderson books are not gonna disappoint me any time soon.
I should mention that this review will probably have spoilers to the first book because I need to talk about what happens in this book and it sort of ties into the first book’s happenings as well? So, if you haven’t read the first book, please, turn around and press that back button. Also, this is gonna be a long one, again. Oops?
Now, onto the book! Ok, so! I have seen so many reviews rating this book lower because of the lack of actual action happening in the book but the thing is, that’s what made it awesome for me. There were some criticisms about Vin’s characterization and well, some of the points may be valid but there was such a transitional arc to Vin’s story that I can’t really take the points seriously. It’s Vin’s own thought process and how she sees herself. It’s an internal conflict that needed to be shown because there were roots for it in the first book.
Now that that’s out of the way, let me start by saying that this book is pretty slow. For a book with about 781 pages, there simply wasn’t enough action to match it and I can totally see why it would have bothered a lot of people. Even I agree that some parts of the book could have been cut without hurting the plot but with a book with as many pages, there wasn’t really a place where it suffered because of the lack of plot or character growth or that we didn’t come to know more about secondary characters. These were the characters that I came to be fond of in the first book and reading from their perspectives to a certain level made the experience richer for me. It let me really see them as they saw themselves.
However even with that little ray of sunshine and hope, this book was a bit too long for the plot it actually contained, even I can’t deny that. So with that, I will now stop talking about the length and the need for it. Let’s move onto more pleasant topics, shall we?
So, the book starts some two years after the events of the first book and I have to say that I was sort of put off by that in the beginning but as I read on, I started to be ok with it. This explored the aftermath of getting rid of the ‘Dark Lord’ and how it’s such a long and arduous journey it is. The majority of the book was about dealing with the aftermath and how very hard it was for people in charge to handle it. Luthadel was then surrounded by two armies, one of them Elend’s father himself and that wasn’t it either. There were political intrigues happening inside the city walls that made it hard for Elend to actually make proper decisions, and this is not taking into consideration the fact that Elend was never really the leader type of person to begin with.
“Elend: I kind of lost track of time…
Breeze: For two hours?
Elend: There were books involved.”
I really loved the way this was addressed in the book, the way Elend realised that while he had made the rules and such with attention to every little detail, it was also the reason he might fail at ruling. Tindwyl was such a force to reckon with when it comes to Elend’s changes in handling the ruling aspect of it. Her entrance made me a bit suspicious at first but then, she won over me as well as the others. I think, part of the reason people didn’t really enjoy the book was the fact that it showed the political intrigue at its actual pace? As in, it does take weeks, often long months to device a plan that actually works and sometimes the solution isn’t fast paced action.
I really loved the way Elend changed his ways, how the process was painful but important and how, in the end, it really worked for him. Just as I loved Vin’s insecurities and her moments of lack of faith in herself, in Elend and in the world in general. For me, that was important because no matter how much Kelsier taught her, at her core, Vin isn’t a very trusting and confident person, not when it comes to important things in her life. That was very important to me because I am always a sucker for characters struggling with their sense of self and figuring things out even if they make some mistakes while doing so.
I have to talk about the secondary characters because seriously, I loved them so freaking much. First and foremost, Oro-Seur. OMG!! I was just continuously in awe of the way Oro-Seur was shown, how he opened up to Vin and later in the book, we got to know more about Kandra in general and it was all fascinating, let me tell you. Also, the Koloss and how they work and why they exist and everything in relation to the Dark Lord, it was super interesting and a bit sad but worth it in the end. There’s Sazed, he got his own pov in this book and I loved it, he’s such a complex character. He was a Keeper but he wasn’t welcome within his own community because of his deeds but how he was also horrified at what he had learned at the end of the book one. He was also trying to figure himself out and I fell in love with him all over again and then the end happened and I was just so sad.
“It’s easy to believe in something when you win all the time…The losses are what define a man’s faith.”
Then there’s Zane who I am not too sure what to think of yet because well, spoilers but let’s just say he was was an interesting character and I was very interested in getting to know him better. Oh, well.
There’s another part of the book that I almost forgot to include, Duralumin. This is a new metal introduced to the magic system and it changes things in so many ways. Gosh, I loved the fact that the magic system is an ever-evolving one instead of staying the same, it makes things awfully interesting for the reader, I think. The last two hundred pages were just so freaking past action paced and so much happened. And god. I wish I could read it again. (I mean, I could but I shouldn’t. I should wait a while before I tackle this book again.)
Overall, yes, this book suffered from length and from the middle book syndrome and there were some things that maybe we could have done without but frankly, when compared everything else that this book offers? I would take the bad with the good because it has such a good character growth, there’s some addition to the magic system, there’s world-building (boy, oh, boy!), political intrigue and siege written so well. Some new characters that are super intriguing and somewhat disturbing and some recurring characters that we get to know more about.
I would recommend it thoroughly but I must say if slow pace and political intrigue or characters doubting themselves doesn’t make you interested then you might find this one a bit disappointing. However if those are your kind of things then, please, head and dive into the book, it might be a while before I see you. This book is huge, okay?
*I am aware this review is all over the place, this is partly because I wanted to talk about too many things at once and partly because this review has been building up for weeks now and it sort of got away from me. So even with heavy editing, it probably still looks a right mess. Sorry for that, I guess.