Review: The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson

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Rating: 9/10

Synopsis

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.

Review

I really enjoyed The Final Empire and was excited to be back reading the Mistborn Series. I had heard some mixed reviews on book two, but I always try to go into a book with a clean slate. With that being said, a common critique I read was that folks had an issue with the pacing. And to be fair, the book is slower-paced, but I felt like the methodical build up of the storyline was necessary and an attribute that I really enjoyed. A reason it worked so well for me was that I really took my time with this entry. I savored all of the political posturing and it was fun trying to guess what would happen next. I don’t mind slower-paced books, particularly those that are heavy in politics. The story takes place about a year after the end of book one, with Luthadel being surrounded by opposing forces who wanted to take over the city. Meanwhile, the city was also being attacked internally through the political process. While I enjoyed book one a bit more, this was a very solid entry. Further, it accomplished what it needed to as the middle book – it continued the build up of the main characters, dove deeper into the history, and offered a compelling storyline to set up the conclusion. Following are some of my favorite elements of the book.

Sanderson continued his great worldbuilding in this second installment, and I really enjoyed learning more about the history and lore. This included more insight into the Deepness and the Well of Ascension. And we got a much deeper dive into the Kandra and learned all about the fierce Koloss – both so fascinating. As in book one, this installment was also very atmospheric. I felt the cool wet air of the mists and smelled the ash falling from the sky. The worldbuilding was simply done right – enough to compliment the storyline but not so much that it dragged on.

The strongest aspect of the series for me is the cast of characters. Sanderson delivered again with some great character development. Vin continues to be my favorite character and she never ceases to amaze me. She sharpened her mastery as a Mistborn, and I appreciated her growth from book one to book two. Sazed is once again a thoughtful, loyal character and we get to see a totally new side of him. Finally, as I mentioned in my review of The Final Empire, I was excited to see how Elend’s arc would go. Well, my expectations were exceeded and he was a big part of why I enjoyed this entry so much. An idealist, he showed great integrity – even at his own detriment – and he was willing to risk it all to do what he thought was right for the people of his city. He matured so much as a leader as the book went on. Plus, it was great to see the interactions between Vin and Elend.

Now, on to my favorite element of The Well of Ascension, the political intrigue. I must admit that I really enjoy when politics play a large part of the plot. I relished all the postering; the political maneuvering was as good as a bloody battle for me. The games, the dialogue and the methodical contemplation on what the next move should be was wonderful. This all led up to an amazing last 175 or so pages, which included the great action we all expected. The payoff was worth the wait and I was a big fan of the Luthadel political scene!

I cannot end this without mentioning the magic system. As I raved about in my review for The Final Empire, Allomancy and Feruchemy are awesome magic systems. Sanderson introduced us to a new metal, duralumin. I was excited to learn a new metal. I continue to be blown away by Sanderson’s creativity with these magic systems and I hope we learn even more in book three.

The Well of Ascension is a great second book in the series. If you haven’t started Mistborn, I highly recommend that you do. I am diving right into the finale, The Hero of Ages. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. 

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