Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

The Well of Ascension
Mistborn – Book 2
Publisher: Tor Books (2007)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 796
Price: $7.99

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.

The events in The Well of Ascension take place a year after the first book. Elend is focused on building a new government, and putting all of his philosophy and political science reading to the test. Vin's main duty seems to be security as the reader joins the story, regularly patrolling the city attempting to keep the new king safe. The rest of the crew of lovable rogues have been drafted into the new government, and are saddled with the task of making it's various moving parts working. Sazed is off teaching the skaa, fulfilling his purpose as a Keeper and Marsh begins the story missing in action.

The Well of Ascension is beautifully written by Mr. Sanderson, but it's missing some of the charm of the first book. Vin and Elend's relationship didn't really resonate with me, maybe it's because we've missed the honeymoon phase of it, but by the time we join the story the rigors of building a new government already seem to have worn the shine off. What was left didn't strike me as much of a love story. The addition of Zane, another Mistborn that seems to understand all of Vin's concerns, never felt like a real relationship triangle to me. At no point was I convinced that Vin was considering leaving Elend, which is a necessity when the author is trying to make me believe that there could be a possible break up happening. The original thieving crew have been neutered, displaying only occasional glimpses of what made them so compelling the first time around. This is probably due to most of them being reduced to bureaucratic roles in the new government, but it was a bit of a disappointment to see what they had all been reduced to.

One of the big positives is how much more we learn about the kandra, through OreSeur. The revelations really start after it's discovered that someone in the palace has been replaced by an imposter. I hoped that this situation would help to alleviate one of the problems I had with the first book, there was little in the way of a sense of danger for the main characters. I know that one character died, but that was always part of the plan, the rest of the group got away relatively unscathed. The introduction of an imposter made me believe that the crew was going to finally suffer some repercussions for all of their schemes. It turns out that the source of the danger for the crew wasn't at the hands of another kandra trying to replace them.

It was in a battle that barely mattered in the grand scheme of the narrative, except to thin the character herd. At least one even happens 'off camera' if you will! By that point in the story the reader has devoted a lot of time and at least 1200 pages of reading to learning about the characters. They deserve to at least see how it happened. The issue that I really have with this is that the rest of the book moves at a rather slow pace. I'm as big a fan of political machinations and scheming as you'll find, but some of it should have been cut out to give characters a proper send off.

The twist involving OreSeur was well executed, even if I don't think it was the ideal way to approach things. The Well of Ascension twist, slightly less so, as I'd guessed what was happening there before it happened. The misdirection involved in the main plot itself was all well done, by the end the reader is unsure of pretty much everything they've been told up to this point regarding the Hero, the Deepness, the Mist, and the Well; in a good way. Marsh pops up again at a critical juncture in the story, and while I think he's a very interesting character I'm hoping he doesn't be come a crutch, swooping and making the story go where it needs to go, when it needs to. He already has an unsettling knack for showing up at just the right moment, I don't want to start thinking of him as deus ex Marsh. I'm also going to reserve judgment on a major development concerning Elend until we get to see a little more of what it means; I'm hoping it doesn't shift focus from Vin.

Conclusion: While it's not a bad follow up to Misborn, The Well of Ascension doesn't quite hit the same marks for me in terms of pace and story. The major developments are surrounded by superfluous ramblings on self doubt and paranoia. The attempted love triangle detracted further from a relationship that the reader has apparently missed the best parts of. The highlights were definitely the surprise reveals near the end of the story. Going forward I hope Brandon Sanderson manages to find a better balance between the characters' inner struggles and the larger picture of what's going on around them.

Rating: 7.75/10

No comments:

Post a Comment