Evil has been defeated… the war has just begun.
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 be that killing The Lord Ruler was the easy part…
“Elend: I kind of lost track of time…
Breeze: For two hours?
Elend: There were books involved.”
You know what I’m reading at the minute… because this is the first sequel review I’ve done.
Picking up the Well of Ascension, the reader can first determine that the book is of a wealthy length, which may seem daunting at first, and that Vin once again is center stage of the narrative. All of that is in fact true. The book follows its predecessor, exploring a world without the tyrant that was The Lord Ruler, but now that Elend is in charge, the world can’t quite deal with it.
For most of its length, the Well of Ascension shifts gears. It concentrates less on heroic legendary and more on the brutal realities of leadership. Elend is compassionate and rules Luthadel with the ideals of previous scholars and other unorthodox methods; however, few take him seriously, and wish for the Lord Ruler to be back. The city quickly becomes thrown into chaos as Lord Straff, Elend’s father, and Ashweather Cett come to invade. Before long, a third army arrives, this one consisting of the monstrous koloss, mutants created by the Lord Ruler. This focus on the difficulties of ruling as a good man is one which we can all sympathize with, one quote from the book is consistent – kings aren’t good men. Yet Elend strives to be.
We follow the story as they try to defend their city while maintaining the support of the people they rule over. It is this that is essential because as we have come to care for these characters so much, the story’s inevitable spiral towards tragedy gives it a personal stake. Sanderson also keeps one surprise up his sleeve, one which will leave the reader gasping and itching to read the next book to see how it turns out. One thing is for sure, he does not stick to the cliché’s. There is no one savior archetype, the last book showing that one savior requires more than themselves to get the job done. The stress of battles pull relationships apart, which is symbolic to normal life, instead of sticking through thick and thin like others. The villains are sympathized but are still villains.
“...A man can only stumble for so long before he either falls or stands up straight.”
It builds up from the intensity of the last novel, giving us insights into characters previously left unexplored. The journal entries before the chapters give us the view point of Kwaan, the one who determined the Hero of Ages and sent him on his quest, as he ponders that his discovery was a mistake and that… well I won’t give too much away. But I think that this intensity has no choice but to be bigger than before. The last novel lead to deaths which had to be filled by the input of others. Without exploring more backstories there would plot holes and the connections between reader and character would be fractured.
One thing that this novel delivers on is death. But this is war, there will be death that is certain. It’s just heart-wrenching when we discover just how much a blood bath war is. It’s odd that I find more realism in a war depicted in fiction, than the seriousness of real war. Maybe because we don’t know the full ins and outs of our own reality, but we do know those of the fictional worlds we read.
There is one flaw however, one thing that I kind of irk but understand in a weird way. There are hints of a love triangle. I never like love triangles, I find them over-used and subject to inaccurate stories. As Vin and Elend grow somewhat apart, the new character Zane, also a Mistborn, tries to tempt her into running away with him. He does it on the notion of ‘saving’ him and that is the one bit that I cannot find original. There is more to it than that, but… I can’t seem to get around it either way.
Besides that though I can’t pinpoint any glaringly bad or obvious faults. It’s just that kind of book. You get sucked in and you don’t emerge until the last word of the last page, and then it all starts again when you pick the next book up.
Sanderson gives us a strong cast whom we feel real emotional tethers to and understand, while still playing around with the tug and war of political conflict in a time of crisis. This all leads up to a climax which has you guessing up to the very last page. It still continues to deliver.
“He ate my horse.”