The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
Published August 21, 2007 by Tor Fantasy
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.
*Sigh* You know that feeling you get when you finish an amazing book & start wondering how in the world you can write a review to do do it justice? I have a severe case of that going on. The Well of Ascension is the follow up to Mistborn (for my review click here) honestly I have to say: this is what a second book in a trilogy should always strive to be: richer & more complex than it's predecessor. Everything I loved about Mistborn came back to me - from the flawless character development, the intricate plot lines and the flowing writing style to the utterly EPIC battle & fight scenes; it's all the more present in The Well of Ascension. In fact, author Brandon Sanderson takes it to a whole other level leaving me longing to know how he will conclude the Mistborn Saga.
The plot picks up exactly one year after the final events of Mistborn. The tyrannical Lord Ruler has been destroyed despite all odds & the crew Kelsier left behind are working hard to rebuild a better world among the ashes of the fallen empire. Vin, the prodigal Mistborn who defeated the Lord Ruler has come a long way from the abused street-urchin she once was, with no knowledge of her powers... Now the people of Luthadel see her as their savior: The Heir to The Survivor. As she struggles with her new found reputation the whole crew try their best to restore peace to Luthadel. Soon enough though, they begin to see that all evil has not been defeated. As the siege for Luthadel begins, the crew must face 3 separate armies all at once...and the real enemy still lies ahead; in shapes & forms that are both surprising & chilling.
Being a second book, the world-building and set-up was minimal. The intrigue starts high, building on things Sanderson had referenced in book 1 but evolving in new and unexpected ways. I loved how authentic the 'rebuilding' efforts were , because getting rid of a cruel, violent and all-powerful ruler doesn't solve all of Empire's problems. In fact, it creates new ones. The constant danger gives the book a frantic pace even when the crew was sitting around talking political strategy or basic survival. The presence of 3 different armies hoping to prey on a weakened empire was almost unbearable at times. Not to mention the assassins & other Mistborns wanting to challenge Vin's reputation. Eeeek! Fear not, because Sanderson being the brilliant writer that he is also knows how to lighten the mood of his tense tale. There's nice romantic bits, funny & light moments among the crew...oh and those EPIC, awe-inspiring fight scenes featuring my favorite Mistborn, Vin.
Ahhh Vin, the poor, beaten-down & unloved girl who discovered she was the stuff of legends when The Survivor took her under his wing & trained her as a Mistborn. Mistborns are magical warriors who derive special powers from metals. Each different metal offers a different ability, like increased speed, endurance, healing, sensing other Mistborns...even seeing the future! Needless to say, The magical system in this series is sheer brilliance. And I mean, it already was so intricate in Mistborn but this time it went even further. I can't even begin to describe the rush it is to read about her battles, especially when she faces another Mistborn...or an ARMY single-handily. She has lost NONE of her epicness this time around- a fact that was displayed in full within the first chapters!! I am in total awe of Vin, even more than I was after book 1 - I didn't think that was even possible but...here we are. I fan-girled throughout this book and I can safely say this girl is my idol! SO. AWESOME. Vin's character evolution within the first book was truly remarkable so I was quite impressed how much she could still grow AND stay true to her real self. My heart filled with emotion - and even pride as I saw Vin begin to step up to her true potential...she is more confident, bolder & a bit more trusting. I've heard other readers rave about how Sanderson is gifted at writing relatable female characters and I couldn't agree more. Team Vin!
While the first book was mostly dual POV's featuring both the Survivor Kelsier & his protégé Vin, this one has multiple narratives though they mostly center around Vin, Elend & even Sazed. Elend's growth & transformation were flawlessly executed and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing it all unfold. Sazed too was a welcome addition - especially because of the rare glimpse it offered into his brand of 'metal-fulled powers: Feruchemy. I'd been very intrigued by the concept in book 1 so I was pleasantly surprised at the chance to learn more. All of the characters are, in a word: beautiful. Each and every one of them, from the heroes to the villains. The heroes are perfectly flawed, well rounded and REAL. The villains are so thoroughly complex and EFFECTIVE that they're as compelling as the heroes.
At one point towards the end of the story, I had to put the book down a moment just to marvel at what I was reading. The last time a series did that to me, I was nearing the end of my first Harry Potter reading. It's the moment when you thought you had a good idea where the plot was heading, only to realize there were a bunch of missing pieces to the puzzle that you didn't even know about - and those pieces change everything!! Wow, I hadn't realized how much I LIVE for that moment when I'm reading! I HIGHLY recommend this series to ANY fan of Adult Fantasy stories, especially people excited by the prospect of a female protagonist kicking butt in a Lord of the Rings type story (without the long descriptives)...but please guys start with book 1 Mistborn 5-big-stars & an instant favorite!
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars