Just a side not before we get into the review: I am aware that I haven’t posted any of my thoughts on Mistborn, but this review has been sitting on the backburner for months and I figured I might as well post it. Just know that I really enjoyed Mistborn and would recommend it.
Also, I will be referring to the first book in this series as Mistborn rather than The Final Empire as that is the title on my copy but they are the same book.
This review may contain mild spoilers for book one.
Finished 10th May, 2016
Author: Brandon Sanderson
The second instalment in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, The Well of Ascension, is a young adult high fantasy with a strong political line, a fascinating magic system and brilliant characters. Following on from Mistborn, Kelsier’s crew are forced to deal with the aftermath of a millennial long empire as well as the intricacies and hardships that come with taking over a kingdom and caring for it – all while being threatened by several other outside forces. I found the characters and the magic system to be what really carried the story for me, as well as some really interesting plot revelations.
As much as I enjoyed this book, for whatever reason The Well of Ascension took me forever to read. As in, I have been “reading” this book since January – January! There are several possible reasons as to why I fell into this minor book slump, one of them being that I had hit a part in the book where I was frustrated with some of the characters and therefore wasn’t that motivated to pick it up and read it. Additionally, I do the majority of my reading in small bits and pieces at school whenever I can fit it in – which usually works really well but being a high fantasy and knowing my particular reading traits, I don’t believe that was the best was to go about this particular novel. To put it into perspective, I read Akarnae and Raelia by Lynette Noni (which are approximately 450 pages each) in less than four days during the period I was “reading” The Well of Ascension.
I do want to reiterate that, in spite of my slight reading slump, I did really enjoy this book. It seems to be that whenever anything is said about Brandon Sanderson the most prominent thing that is mentioned is his writing style. Both Mistborn and The Well of Ascension are testament to that. Brandon Sanderson is brilliant at putting in twists that seem completely out of the blue but, once revealed, the foreshadowing becomes obvious.
Another feature that I really like about The Well of Ascension is that we get to read from the perspectives of pretty much all of our core cast in addition to that of our antagonists and several random perspectives to give insight from outsiders. This change of pace is great for both the slower, more political scenes and the battle-heavy ones. These fluid shifts in points of view are one such example of Sanderson’s great style at work.
I’m not entirely sure what I think of Elend in this instalment. I mean, I still really like him and enjoy his character but he undergoes some changes which I personally feel take away from his character. Also, there is an implication that comes about near the conclusion of this novel that makes me slightly suspicious of him – but I’m not sure if it’s just an evolution of his character or something more sinister at work. There were moments in this book where I loved him intensely and others where I felt somewhat detached. Suffice to say, I have mixed feelings but am interested to see where his character is headed.
Vin is an absolutely fantastic character. She is totally kick-ass and her fighting skills are off the charts (I mean, talk about epic) but she is also a flawed, relatable character. She is honestly one of my favourite characters – period – and that includes those outside Sanderson’s universe. I love how she deals with the conflicts thrown her way and how facing them forces her to evaluate herself and, in turn, grow from those experiences. Vin’s character develops significantly within this instalment but the changes are even more prominent when we consider what she was like when we are first introduced to her in Mistborn.
Occasionally I tend to find that female protagonists – and sometimes just female characters in general – tend to be somewhat awkward and unrelatable when written by male authors, but I did not find that to be the case with Vin (or any of Sanderson’s other cast) in the least.
The other crew members (read: Breeze, Sazed, Dockson, Spook, Clubs, Ham, OreSeur,etc.) are further developed in The Well of Ascension which is a fun time. I really enjoyed getting to acquaint myself with their distinct personalities and quirks, and they really came into their own in my mind. Sazed, Ham and OreSeur are my particular favourites, with Sazed and OreSeur’s complexities and Ham’s general persona. Both Sazed and OreSeur have some great revelations and are really interesting to hear from. Also, Sazed has an adorable relationship with a new character, who I didn’t initially like but ended up really growing on me (and shall remain unnamed due to possible spoilers). I feel that they have a great connection and their dynamic is fantastic. Sazed’s character arc is a particularly interesting one and I feel like he’s the one that experiences the most development within this instalment.
Aside from Vin, Zane is probably my favourite character in this story. Not only is he complex, experienced and fascinating, but he creates some brilliant tension and conflict within the story and poses an interesting dilemma for Vin. I love their dynamic and find his backstory to be very well-thought out and gripping. We are constantly learning new things about him, yet he remains such a mystery to us. Zane is just such a fun character to read and is a real wild card to add to the mix. The chapters that featured him were probably some of my favourite to read.
If I hadn’t dragged out my consumption of this story and had instead read it at my usual pace, I feel that I would have rated The Well of Ascension 5 Stars. As it stands, even though I really enjoyed it, I feel a slight sense of apathy towards it – induced by my reading experience and not the actual content, I’m sure.
I am going to take a temporary break from this series and pick it back up at a later date when I’m more in the mood to read it and am in the position to read it all at once – or at least in several large chunks. I’m interested to see what that will do to my overall reading and whether I’ll be able to get to all of the shiny new books I’m super excited for or if this reading slump will persevere.
Have you read the Mistborn series? If so, what are your thoughts?
Have you read the third book? How does it compare to the rest of the trilogy?
Have you read any of Brandon Sanderson’s other works? Which ones would you recommend me reading next?
Have you ever written a review for the second book in the series and not for the first? (This also happened to me with the 5th Harry Potter book)
Please leave a comment as I love talking to you guys 🙂