The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Over on the Cosmere subreddit (one of the good ones in which most people are very nice and just getting together to geek out on something), when I finished The Final Empire they warned me that The Well of Ascension was kind of stationary – not as action-packed or information-heavy as the first book. I wasn’t surprised to hear this. As I’ve remarked countless times, most trilogies have a first entry that kind of stands alone and the second one ties strongly into the third one. (EG The Matrix, The Hunger Games)
That said, this was a very rewarding book for a number of reasons. First of all, Elend, Sazed, and Vin grow as people. They went through a lot in book 1 and the relative stationary plot in book 2 allows them to process what they went through and grow. Second, Straff Venture is elaborated upon as a person. He’s still mostly a 1-dimensinal villain, but he was a fascinating character to read. I can’t remember if the guy who plays the Lannister Patriarch died in real life, but that would be an awesome actor for Straff Venture. Third, the stationary pace allows for more learning of the world. We get to learn a lot about the Kandra and are introduced to the Koloss. We learn more of the Terris breeding program. We even possibly learn where the first allomancers came from. Zane is also a great tragic character. (view spoiler)[I wish we got more time with him (hide spoiler)]
Once again, due to his great abilities and strong use of alpha and beta readers, Sanderson has produced a very tightly plotted story where no detail is wasted. The BIG reveal at the end with Sazed coming from something planted right at the beginning of the book was as great as any Greek tragic prophecy. Everything follows from something planted earlier in the story. It makes anxious to get to the end of the trilogy to see how this extends to the trilogy as a whole. (view spoiler)[Also, I’ll have to start remembering Sanderson’s fondness for unreliable sources as he uses it to great effect in Mistborn, Elantris, and Warbreaker (hide spoiler)]
If you are into Science Fiction and Fantasy books because you love the world building – you love things like the Simarrilion and GRRM’s histories of Westeros written as if by Westerosi historians – you’ll enjoy this chapter of Mistborn Era 1. If you’re just here for allomantic carnage – there’s some of that, but it really is full of history and political maneuvering.
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