Review: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Review: The Well of Ascension by Brandon SandersonThe Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Mistborn #2
Published by Tor Books on June 3, 2008
Genres: Epic Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 796
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

They did the impossible, deposing the godlike being whose brutal rule had lasted a thousand years. Now 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.

They have barely begun when 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.

It may just be that killing the Lord Ruler was the easy part. Surviving the aftermath of his fall is going to be the real challenge.

When I first read Mistborn a couple of years ago, it completely blew me away. Somehow, though, *cough* tbr pile *cough* I never got around to continuing the series. This time, though, with two review books set in the world of Mistborn to keep me honest, I’m going to finish. With high expectations, I embarked on the long awaited (for me) second book of the series, eager to find out what Elend and Vin and all the rest were up to. Imagine my disappointed surprise when The Well of Ascension was a serious struggle. Like, it took me over a month to read this book—that’s how much of a struggle it was. Then things got super intense towards the end and I couldn’t put the book down. The Well of Ascension has major pacing issues but ends up being worth it.

I spent a good deal of the book just this side of bored. It’s not that The Well of Ascension was ever bad, but my god was it slow for 500 pages. That’s a lot of pages for a book to move at a crawl. I mean, okay, there were a few really exciting fight scenes, but the fast pace never stuck around for more than a few chapters at a time. I slogged through.

The problem wasn’t just the lack of action. The characters were largely in a holding pattern as well. See, after the revolution in Mistborn comes the politicking and attempt to keep Luthadel in an empire in tatters. In place of the Lord Ruler, warlords are rising up, and Elend’s high ideals don’t really fit in this landscape. Luthadel is now facing three invading armies with ill-trained forces, one of the armies even led by Elend’s father Straff Venture. Much of the book is spent on attempted political resolutions to avoid Luthadel’s doom. It’s realistic for the situation, but that stuff is just not my jam to read about.

Vin spends most of the book in a mental crisis. She’s always suffered from self-doubt and mistrustfulness, but she grew a lot in Mistborn and started learning to trust. Because of the suggestions of one character and the fearful situation, Vin suffers a setback and spends most of the book regressing somewhat to how she was in the first book. She’s trying to decide whether she and Elend can really be together and whether she should just run away. It’s rough and sort of a repetitive from my perspective, even though, again, it’s something she needed to work through. The ultimate resolution of her character arc comes a bit too swiftly, but it’s hard to care too much when I’m so glad that that plot is over.

Elend experiences major growth in The Well of Ascension. He starts out as king, full of ideals, and then basically has all of his dreams crash down around him. Elend has to grow up in this book, to stop acting like the spoiled brat challenging his dad’s ideas out of spite. He will always be a scholar, but he needs to decide if he does want to lead and, if so, learn how to be the sort of man people want to follow. It’s slow, but satisfying watching Elend become stronger and more confident.

So far as other characters go, I appreciated the development given to Sazed, though I actually thought his romance was a little over the top. View Spoiler » The relationship between Vin and OreSoeur gave me probably my main feels of the whole book, which I didn’t see coming at all. Breeze turns out to have a really interesting character arc in this book two, partially because of the introduction of a new female character, Allrianne. Initially, I was eye-rolling at Allrianne so hard because, with so few women (aka just Vin really), the addition of a shallow woman was just what it didn’t need. Allrianne, however, has depths she intentionally hides, and I’m hoping she’ll end up doing some great things in The Hero of Ages.

After all that slow character building and political maneuvering, the book gets unputdownable once tensions burst into war. Like, holy shit, things get so intense all of a sudden that it gives you whiplash, only this is a positive sort of emotional whiplash because now you’re all there. If you can make it to the part where the battle starts, you will be rewarded.

I mean, really, if you thought the end of Mistborn was rough, the end of The Well of Ascension is basically life ruining. Just what even, Sanderson. This is above and beyond. Everything goes to total shit and, yeah, it was building the whole time but so freaking quietly that you’re just totally not prepared. View Spoiler »

So yeah, The Well of Ascension was rough, but it ended on a high (or low for the characters) note and I’m now excited to continue into book three which was in doubt there for a while.

Favorite Quote:

“I kind of lost track of time…”

“For two hours?”

“There were books involved.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif sleepy but holy shit
That feeling when you’re kind of falling asleep but then things get intense and you’re like WHOA

2 responses to “Review: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson”

  1. YES to all of this. Especially that perfect cat-banana gif. This book did feel like it was kind of suffering from “middle book syndrome” for a bit, then BAM. Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what you think of the 3rd book.
    looloolooweez recently posted…Reevaluating My Reading: Battle of the SexesMy Profile

  2. I’m glad to read your review! I read The Final Empire quite a while ago, but like you I’ve never gotten around to continuing it. Now, I feel afraid I won’t love it as much, just because I loved the Final Empire so much. So it makes me glad in a way to read your review, because it lowers my expectations a bit.

    I’m especially interested in reading about Elend’s growth, because you described it wonderfully. I’ll hopefully read this book soon, but I’m less intimidated by it now, thanks to your review!
    Jolien @ The Fictional Reader recently posted…Should I Always Mention Spoiler Free?My Profile

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