Monday, November 3, 2008

Mistborn: The Well of Ascension

In case you missed it, Jenny and I both really liked Brandon Sanderson's first Mistborn book. I'm not a big fantasy geek, but the story and characters were so compelling that I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next one in the trilogy. Having finished The Well of Ascension, I want to get some thoughts down about it before I delve into the last one (which was published just a few weeks ago). Because this isn't a co-review, I won't give away any spoilers for The Well of Ascension, but the nature of the story is such that I can't help but give away some spoilers for The Final Empire (the first Misborn book that preceded it), so be forewarned!

Much of what was said in our co-review for The Final Empire is true for The Well of Ascension. The story is very interesting and there's so much intrigue going on that I didn't want to put it down until I knew how things were going to turn out. But it's really the characters that I fell in love with. The Well of Ascension features most of the same characters from the first book, picking up a year after the first one left off. In the aftermath of the downfall of the Lord Ruler, Elend Venture has been made king and is trying desperately to institute his ideals for democracy and parliamentary rule. But he's surrounded by greedy men who don't share his vision and are trying to take advantage of him for their own gain. In the meantime, three armies (including one led by his own father) prepare to attack the city of Luthadel, and the people are quickly losing their nerve.

Vin is facing her own set of troubles as personal bodyguard for Elend as she tries to protect him from enemy assassins. She meets another Mistborn who appears to be her enemy, but over time they develop a certain amount of trust. She begins to face an inner battle over her love for Elend and her doubts that she is good enough for him or that he truly understands her. This gets harder as her connection with this new Mistborn grows and he invites her to run away with him, leaving the mess of lesser mortals behind them. At the same time, the mists are behaving in very strange and threatening ways and Vin has to face the possibility that she may be the Hero of Ages and will have to destroy the Deepness all over again.

This is barely scratching the surface of the plot, of course, but the book mostly revolves around Elend and Vin and how they come to terms with who they really are and what that means for the rest of the world. Of course there's lots of action and excitement at the same time, so there's never a dull moment even with the periods of introspection. I enjoyed it as much as the first book until the ending. The first book had a very satisfying resolution, so I was counting on that for The Well of Ascension and was so disappointed! It was still very intense and full of unexpected twists like the first one, but some really sad and scary things happen and then it ends with a big cliffhanger! Mostly I'm just a wimp and was looking for a "happily ever after," so I don't do well with cliffhangers. But it sure makes me desperate to finish the rest of the story!

I'm more and more impressed with Sanderson's skill. I really enjoyed the development of Elend's character and the fact that there was this great guy who had didn't have to rely on Allomancy to distinguish him. I liked how Sanderson depicted Elend's relationship with Vin and the complexity of being in love with someone who is perfect for you in a thousand ways but at the same time you can't help but wonder if you really belong together. Vin's relationship with her kandra was another fascinating part of the story, along with the introduction of a potential romantic interest for Sazed. And......well, I could go on, but really, you just need to read it yourself! And now, if you'll excuse me, I've got the last Mistborn book to get started on!


  1. Several things about Mistborn 2 surprised me and some I wasn't too happy about, but boy howdy, Mistborn 3 was phenomenal. I know I get to review it, so I won't say too much but let's just say there were tears. I hate crying but this book did it to me. Sanderson has earned my fandom.

  2. Oh goody! I'm even more excited to read the third one now!

  3. I love the political commentary Brandon Sanderson weaves in through the pure altruistic democratic views of Elend and the near Machiavellian views of his self-appointed political advisor.

    And I LOVED what Vin does to Elend’s father.

  4. I just finished the third book last night. I enjoyed the entire series. I, like you, Jenny, cried with book 3, and I was really glad that the only person around while I finished was a newborn. I'm looking forward to your review. Caren, I agree with everything you said about the second book. It was quite the cliffhanger, and I was really glad that book 3 was about to be published so I wouldn't have to wait forever to find out how things turned out.