The Well of Ascension

Brandon Sanderson
The Well of Ascension Cover

The Well of Ascension


The book started out slowly, and I was initially worried that it was going to get bogged down in describing the political situation of the fantasy realm that Sanderson brought to such realistic light in the first book in this series, The Final Empire. As a reader, I have found that very few authors can get politics right in a fantasy. The trick seems to be to give the reader just enough detail without getting bogged down in details of the arguments being made by fictional politicians in a fictional legislature. I simply find I cannot care very much, and lose interest.

Also at the beginning of the novel, a dire situation is set up in which our heroes are faced with two armies bearing down on their city, and as a consequence, a siege begins. If anything is less interesting than fantasy politics, it is a fantasy siege.

So I began to despair quite early on that the Mistborn series was going to fail in a big way with just its second installment. The plotlines seemed obvious to me and I was resigned to a long slog.

And then, nothing went the way I thought it was going to go. Characters evolved--even "minor" ones! New mysteries popped up! New magical powers were revealed! Plotlines clashed, converged, and re-emerged in completely unexpected ways! Nothing was as it seemed to be! The twists and turns kept on coming right up to the very end.

Along with all that, there were some really thought-provoking sections dealing with how power is wielded, whether it is a good or a bad thing for a person to become a "tool" of someone else, when is it okay to submit your will to the will of another, whether it is possible to love completely without also making yourself completely vulnerable to that person's will.

All in all, probably the best middle book of a trilogy that I have ever read (other than The Two Towers).

[I listened to this as an audio book performed by Michael Kramer, who did an amazing job, giving all the characters distinct voices without making them caricatures. I would highly recommend the audio version.]