The Well of Ascension is set about a year after the events of The Final Empire (reviewed here); the young nobleman Elend is King, replacing the tyrannical Lord Ruler, and the city of Luthadel is besieged by three different armies, all intent on seizing power for themselves, one of which is lead by Elend’s own father.
The surviving leaders of the rebellion are all floundering without Kelsier to guide and unite them. Vin is still testing her newfound abilities and trying to figure out her relationship with Elend. Meanwhile, Elend is struggling with the responsibilities of being King and trying to maintain his integrity and ideals.
While The Final Empire had a tight narrative perspective focusing on Kelsier and Vin (and Elend at the very end), The Well of Ascension follows several different characters’ perspectives and sometimes seemed too diffuse. I also found this slower paced and lacking the momentum of the first book, though it was redeemed by the last 150 pages, which had me riveted and ended on a cliffhanger that made sense of the Lord Ruler’s dying words and left me desperate to know what happens next.
It’s always hard to review the middle book in a trilogy as it has to bridge the first and final parts, and it’s often difficult to judge how well it foreshadows or sets up things for the conclusion until you’ve finished the series – so I may change my mind in the future – but unfortunately The Well of Ascension didn’t manage to live up to my expectations.
Have a lovely week! X
Dark and stormy evenings in our corner of the world have given me a lovely excuse to stay at home snuggled under a blanket on the couch with candles lit and books to read. I’ve had a few false starts this year – books that I’ve started but lost interest in – and I decided to re-read The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson to refresh my memory before picking up the other books in the Mistborn trilogy, which have been on my TBR list for a long time.
The plot of The Final Empire follows a fairly typical hero’s journey as the charismatic Kelsier leads a daring group of rebels from a subjugated race in an attempt to overthrow the tyranical Lord Ruler and his oppressive empire. Along the way, Kelsier takes a thief called Vin as his apprentice and trains her in allomancy, the magic system Sanderson created and it’s easily one of the most original and well-integrated systems I’ve come across in a long time.
I suspect fantasy novels are often dismissed by many readers because they require too much suspension of disbelief and yet beyond the magic and battles, The Final Empire explores some universal and pertinent themes such as prejudice, persecution and even the injustices and atrocities that ordinary people ignore or accept every day, as well as the redeeming qualities of courage, resilience, loyalty and hope.
The biggest criticism I have of this story is that Sanderson doesn’t so much foreshadow the two major plot twists as shine a spotlight on them, and many readers will probably guess the Lord Ruler’s identity and the source of his power long before any of the characters do, while another character’s death carries a certain sense of inevitability. Despite this though, it’s still a gripping tale and I enjoyed re-reading The Final Empire just as much as I did the first time around, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next in the series. Have a lovely week! X