During the past month or two I’ve been reading Brandon Sanderson’s “The Well of Ascension” as part of a blog tour style readalong. It was a fun experience, and now it’s time for a spoiler-free review of the book for anyone who hasn’t been following along.
Note that when I say spoiler-free, there still will be spoilers from the first book, so if you haven’t read it, then I’ll just redirect your attention here instead.
After Vin and her band of heroes overthrew the Lord Ruler, Elend Venture becomes king of Luthadel. While Elend has good intentions, he’s naive and idealistic, and faces the greatest challenge of his life when three armies show up on his doorstep. Meanwhile, the Mists are showing up in the daytime, and Vin begins to suspect that she is the only one who will be able to save the world from the Deepness.
One of the things that I liked most about this book was the worldbuilding. Sanderson continues to explore and develop the world that was introduced in the first book. The Kandra, for instance, appeared very briefly at the end of “The Final Empire,” but in this book Vin develops a grudging friendship with Ore-Seur, and through him begins to learn more about Kandra beliefs and limitations. Similarly, the Koloss were mentioned in the previous book, but didn’t play any sort of important role. In this one, Elend finds himself facing a Koloss army. Sanderson is able to give readers new insights and perspectives on an already familiar world, and he does so in such a way that it feels fresh and exciting.
I was glad that “The Well of Ascension” didn’t suffer from middle-book syndrome. It had its own self-contained story arc even while setting up the premise for the conclusion of the trilogy. It’s more political than the first book was, which to me was a good thing. It gave the story a different tone than “The Final Empire,” and it didn’t feel at all like filler material.
I was a bit worried that the book would feel empty without Kelsier, as Kelsier’s charisma was one of the things that I loved most when reading “The Final Empire.” Even though he’s missed, Elend’s inclusion as a point-of-view character is nice, and I liked seeing him evolve from the bookish nobleman with whom Vin fell in love to an effective and mature ruler. I was also glad to see a lot more of Sazed in this book.
I’d definitely recommend this series to anyone who loves well-written fantasy with excellent worldbuilding. I’m a shameless Brandon Sanderson fangirl, and I can’t wait to read the final installment of the trilogy!