The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson
Published: August 21st 2007 by Tor Books
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Adult.
Source: Purchased from Waterstones
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones
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.
Brandon Sanderson sure knows how to write an epic fantasy. The Well of Ascension is the second book in the Mistbon trilogy so beware there are SPOILERS for the first book. This book deals with the fallout of The Final Empire. With Kelsier and the lord ruler dead, our characters are faced with the challenge of rebuilding a nation, establishing a new fair and just empire whilst dealing with external forces that stand in the way of this development.
With the first book the story belonged to Vin. However, I found that The Well of Ascension well and truly belonged to Elend. At the end of the first book we see that Elend has all these ideas and dreams about how the empire would be under his rule. In this book Elend tries to put these dreams into practice and it’s not an easy feat. He realises that while these ideas look good on paper, in practice they’re not as successful. I absolutely adore Elend. His hope and optimism is so refreshing to witness in a world that’s full of hardship and chaos, you can just feel his passion and need to create a world that’s fair and just to his people. I adored his journey in this book and the growth of his character as he goes from being a noble idealist to a leader of a nation. His optimism comes as such a contrast to Vin’s doubt and skepticism but that’s what makes their relationship so wonderful. They balance each other out and support each other and even when Vin’s doubts and insecurities threaten to tear them apart, his trust and belief in her never wavered.
Elend is not the only character that grows in this book. Vin also comes into her own and battles her own demons. A lot of Vin’s struggles center on her sense of identity. She doesn’t feel like she knows who she truly is following the fall of The Final Empire. As a Mistborn, Elend’s partner and being elevated into a position of spiritual and political influence, Vin struggles to reconcile each side of her, which leads to a lot of confusion and manipulation. Within Vin’s story we meet Zane, a Mistborn who can relate to her struggles which also means that he has the capability to manipulate Vin and plant seeds of doubt into her mind with regards to her position in this empire. With all this confusion, Vin does make some impulsive and drastic decisions but that makes her growth and acceptance of herself all the more special and I look forward to seeing Vin and Elend work together as a united force in the third book.
It’s clear that this book mainly focuses on strategy and political maneuvering which means that the action takes a back seat. It almost felt like a chess game watching the characters make their move and wait for their opponents to retaliate. While I really enjoyed seeing how these characters, Elend in particular, dealt with these challenges I did find that some parts dragged a bit.
I’ve got to give a special mention to Kelsier’s crew because I have a lot of love and respect for these guys. After Kell’s demise it would have been so easy for the crew to disband and go back to their sneaky, thieving ways. Instead they band together and support Elend and Vin as they deal with the fallout of Kelsier’s plan. Whether these guys like it or not the care and dedication they showed in helping see Elend’s nation come into fruition just proves that they are good men with big hearts.
With all the political maneuverings, there is also an underlying threat that begins to emerge, one that proves to be a greater threat to their society. The intricacy of Sanderson’s world and the way he is able to entwine all these different plot threats into one cohesive story is remarkable. For anyone that is looking for a new fantasy series full of plot twists, interesting characters and a compelling, well established world, I would highly recommend you pick up the Mistborn trilogy.