The Well of Ascension is a solid sophomore follow-up to Mistborn: The Final Empire that takes the story into directions, that ultimately, I was disappointed with.
3/5 15/25 Possible Score
Plot – 3(Fine)
Characters – 3(Fine)
Setting/World Building – 3(Fine)
Writing Style – 3(Fine)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 3(Weak)
Summary: **Spoilers for Mistborn: The Final Empire**
The Well of Ascension starts a year after the events of The Final Empire. Luthadel is now under the rule of Elend and he has set up a representative democracy in Luthadel. The old Kelsier crew are finding it difficult to govern the city of Luthadel when the people are so used to having their entire lives controlled. At the moment it is more difficult for the average man and woman on the street, than it was under The Lord Ruler, but they are free.
Luthadel has enemies at the door, that want the city for themselves, because now that The Lord Ruler is gone, there is a huge power vacuum in the land. Believing that they can take advantage of this vacuum, powerful men, like Elend’s father, Straff, want the city for himself. Elend has his own problems with his representative court wanting to take power away from him.
Vin is Luthadel’s savior and the common folk look up to her in reverence. However, Vin is having her own problems because her relationship with Elend is currently strained. Not only that, but she must protect Elend from constant threats from assassins, including a new mistborn.
I was extremely excited to return to the world of Mistborn with The Well of Ascension. Right away, Brandon Sanderson’s writing took hold of me with his natural dialogue and ability to describe the action with the unique magic system. I find that Sanderson’s dialogue is one of the most natural forms of dialogue in fantasy literature. It is conversational dialogue that just seems very organic.
The action sequences, like from Mistborn: The Final Empire are just really well written because the magic system allows Sanderson to explain in detail the action. The ability to push and pull on metal makes sense to anyone that has ever played with magnets and understands basic physics. The other abilities are things that readers have seen in superheros, so they are relatively familiar with what is being described. Because the system is so well thought out, things that are familiar turn into the exciting, when paired with using all the powers together in sequences.
The plot is extremely focused on Elend and his struggles with leading Luthadel. I just don’t really care for Elend’s character much because he is so one-dimensional. Sanderson described Elend as a good man about 50 times in this book, and it did get annoying. I understand that Sanderson wanted to talk about what happens after “the big bad evil gets beaten,” but I felt that the strong focus on politics isn’t the strength of Mistborn, it is the action and adventure.
When Sanderson wasn’t focused on Elend and Luthadel politics, it was focused on Vin’s insecurity with Elend. I found this to have way too much page time and it annoyed me because a lot of the character growth that Vin went through in the first book was ignored. In fact, the same exact insecurity and trust plot line that was used in the first book, was just rehashed here. I don’t read Sanderson novels to read about YA-like needy love and insecurities.
The point of view characters of Elend and Vin dominated this book and I just wanted more from the other characters. Sazed had a large role to play in this book and it honestly saved the book for me. However, Breeze, Dockson, Ham, Spook, and Clubs had very little content put aside for them. There were only a handful of times where any of these characters got a point of view section. Because of this, a lot of these characters were insubstantial parts of the narrative, and when they did have a focus, it was glaringly obvious that they were arch-type characters, because of the lack of page time.
Overall, I was disappointed in The Well of Ascension but I still enjoyed the book. Some of the choices that Sanderson made were not my favorite and I also thought there were some things that just didn’t make sense to me. I believe that Hero of Ages will be great and I’m being positive that some of the things that I disliked in this book will make more sense in the next book.
I still would recommend this book to fantasy readers. It is a solid fantasy book but I couldn’t overlook a lot of the short-comings to give it a higher score. On the weird side of things, I am kind of happy I didn’t love this one as much as the previous, because it shows me that Sanderson is human after all.
Journey Video has SPOILERS