Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Book Review: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

When I read Brandon Sanderson's "The Final Empire" a couple months ago, I was instantly hooked. I mean, a great cast of characters, an eerily omnipotent bad guy, super cool powers and a thrilling plot...what more could you ask for? (You can read me rave more about the book here.) I always like having some breathing space between books in a series, just to mull over what happened and build up some anticipation, and a few days ago, I decided that now was the time to embark on another journey with Vin and her friends in "The Well of Ascension", the second installment in the "Mistborn Trilogy".

A year has passed since Vin defeated the Lord Ruler, a year since Kelsier, the mastermind behind the elaborate plan to take down the all-powerful God incarnate of the Central Dominance, died and became a martyr. But the defeat of the tyrant left behind enormous instabilities in the realm. As Kelsier's protege and the slayer of the Lord Ruler, Vin is venerated by a budding new religion, a distinction that makes her increasingly uncomfortable. Even more worrying, the mists that she found comfort in are acting strangely, and seems to harbour a mysterious entity that haunts her. With three armies now vying to conquer Luthadel, Kelsier's crew knows that the noose is tightening. The only thing offering a glimmer of hope is an ancient prophecy of the Hero of Ages and the Well of Ascension, and Vin plans on finding it to save the city she sought to free.

One of the things I love the most about the "Mistborn Trilogy" is its wonderful cast of characters. Every single one of them, from Vin to Elend to Straff, has his or her own distinct personalities, stories and thoughts, and the character building that Mr. Sanderson has done throughout the first two books, and even the second book alone, is astounding. Despite their differences, the characters in "The Well of Ascension" work perfectly with each other, both complementing and foiling others in a way that adds to the dynamism and complexities of the book as a whole. Take, for example, Vin and Elend. We all knew from the start that they would end up together as a couple--anyone with two brain cells to rub could see that! But what's really interesting to see unfold is how the two worked together in a time of crisis, and how both of them struggled with the relationship because they felt like they were too different from another to truly understand the other person. Admittedly, I felt like this whole question of self-worth and self-identity was a little too drawn-out throughout the book, but I think it perfectly shows the ways in which two characters, though seemingly contrasting one another, actually meld to create complex, human relationships in the story.

I usually find that the plot of sequels are hardly ever as exciting as that of the first book, but this was most certainly not the case in "The Well of Ascension"! Mr. Sanderson did an excellent job of creating an entirely new storyline from the previous one in a way that linked the two together, but presented a brand new set of obstacles and perspectives to the trilogy. There was hardly ever a dull moment throughout--the plot was, without a doubt, compelling and engaging, even in moments that weren't describing an action-packed scene of some sort. And the ending! The last part of the book had my heart racing, and let me just say, Mr. Sanderson, you are one tricky trickster! The twist at the end just had my eyes bulging out of their sockets. Wow. It'll definitely be interesting to see how everything turns out.

All in all, "The Well of Ascension" is an exciting sequel to "The Final Empire", full of what made the first book so compelling: a great cast of characters, realistic character development, an eerily magical world and a thrilling storyline. I will definitely be reading the final book of the trilogy, "The Hero of Ages", to see how everything unfolds! After some breathing space, that is.

Rating: 5/5

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