Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Title: The Well of Ascension
Series: Mistborn #2
Author: The Well of Ascension
Published: 2007 by Tor (Macmillan)
Amazon Goodreads

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.

*** This is the second book in a trilogy and therefore it may have spoilers for the first book Mistborn: The Final Empire. If you haven't read that books DO IT then come back ***

This is quite a hard review to write. What do I say about this book? How can explain it's brilliance without giving away spoilers? How can I convince you to read this series? All I can say is that this book shook me to my very core. It was so brilliant and wonderful and the perfect sequel to Mistborn.

Everything that was so fantastic in Mistborn was just as, if not even more, fantastic in The Well of Ascension. This is now my third book by Brandon Sanderson and I have noticed that he does a few things really well, things that I love when reading fantasy. He writes books with likable and complex characters with creative and compelling worlds and The Well of Ascension was no exception.

First the characters. Some returning favorites from Mistborn: The Final Empire are back and being just as fabulous. Vin is back being amazingly badass at allomancy. In this book she has some truly incredible battles that are both thrilling and unsettling. But the great thing about Vin is that she's not just this heartless warrior. She's still coming to terms with her power, what she is capable of, and how she should use it. She's the perfect combination of tough yet vulnerable. Her biggest vulnerabilities may come in the form of Elend. Vin and Elend are seriously my new favorite OTP and they have some amazing swoonworthy moments in this book. Their relationship caused me to cry tears of sadness and joy at times. I just love them both so much, together and apart. And Elend is another likable and complex character. His development in this book was truly fantastic and he has caused me to lose my ability to even.

But it's not just these two main characters who are amazing and complex. The book is full of secondary characters who walk the line between good and evil making them compelling to read about. Sometimes I really hate when books change perspectives because it can make things needlessly complicated, created dramatic irony which is often annoying, or I lose track of my favorite characters. But with this series it works. The opportunity to spend time in the heads of characters like Sazed, Breeze, Straff Venture, and new characters like Zane and Allriane added an interesting dimension to the book and made it feel more full-bodied than complicated.

But that seems to be the watchword (phrase) for The Well of Ascension full-bodied but not complicated and nothing proves this point more than the world-building. In Mistborn: The Final Empire we were introduced to the world of The Final Empire. It's history, it's myths and legends, and it's magic. This series is like a masterclass in world-building. So many Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers can take a cue from Sanderson in how to develop and expand a world, prove our perceptions false, and still not lose the truth in the previous work. In The Well of Ascension, everything we thought we knew, everything we thought made sense is proven to be even more complex and more than once we are proven wrong about what we thought was true. If this doesn't make sense then you're not alone. It sounds so contradictory to me and I can't really accurately explain it. Just know that Sanderson's not reinventing the wheel here, he's just adding three more and an engine.

However that just may be because this magical systems and mythologies are so enthralling. Like all good magic it has rules and guidelines and we are constantly learning more about them in the show not tell style. In Misborn we learn about Allomancy. In The Well of Ascension we not only learn more about Allomancy but we also learn tons about Feruchemy. Both are unique and interesting magical systems that allow people to do different things mentally, emotionally, and physically to themselves and others. But Sanderson also takes the larger mythology and history of the world and expands on it by teaching us more by breaking down our thoughts on the subject. This is a fantasy world like no other I have ever experiences before and it is brilliant and entertaining.

And equally brilliant and entertaining, is the plot of this book. In Mistborn the characters tore down a society and now they have to rebuild it. This therefore leads to an incredible amount of political intrigue and war, the combination of the two is what I love in my High Fantasy. And while this was quite a long book (though nowhere near as long as some of his other works) and it did have a few lulls in the plot, it was quite entertaining from beginning to end. Things in The Well of Ascension slowly build to a thrilling conclusion that is full of incredible twists along the way. And when everything was all over the final twist left me so shocked that I'm still not sure if I understand what happened. I am sure however that I absolutely adored this book and I cannot wait to read the final book in the trilogy. And while I am excited to read it, I am incredibly anxious as to what will happen. What will Sanderson do to my feels?

I give The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson 9.5 (really 9.75) out of 10

Fantasy fans should definitely check out this series. I would especially recommend it to anyone who enjoys the A Song of Ice and Fire series or anyone who is looking for a series with a unique and compelling magical world and a plot full of surprising plot twists.

Have you read The Well of Ascension? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING! 

1 comment:

  1. Eep, okay okay STILL need to read this series and it's reviews like this one that makes me wonder why I haven't gotten to it yet! Well, I just really haven't found the time yet to fit it in, but I really hope I do find some time soon because you (and everyone else) makes it sound SO amazing! It really seems to have everything going for it.