18. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson. 590 p. Published August 2007.
This is the second book in the Mistborn Trilogy, and begins about 6 months after where The Final Empire left us. The Lord Ruler, a self-imposed diety and holder of dominion over all men – noble and skaa alike, has been destroyed. But with Kelsier “The Survivor”, hero of the people, dead, the task of rebuilding the world has been left to Vin, his apprentice, and Elend, her noble-born lover. Together with the other member’s of Kelsier’s old crew, they work to bring order and law to the chaos left in the wake of The Lord Ruler’s death. Elend is now King of the Central Dominance and Luthadel, the largest city in the empire, and works hard to keep his fledgling democracy alive.
But with constant threat of assasination hanging over her beloved’s head, Vin spends most of her time stalking the city’s rooftops, slaying the intruders before they become to much of a threat. Vin is troubled by many things: her role in Kelsier’s plan, her place in the new kingdom, and most troubling – the final word of The Lord Ruler before she killed him. And Vin has begun to notice a change in the mists she loves. Their blanket over the land, once so freeing, have grown ominous and threatening.
As Elend and Vin try to keep hold on their kingdom, word comes that three armies are marching on the city. One is led by Straff Venture, a ruthless noble who also happens to be Elend’s father, and another is composed of Koloss, the beastly minions created by the Lord Ruler. Zane, another mistborn, has begun stalking her city, and while she knows that he must be an enemy, she is drawn to him as no other. After all, only another mistborn can understand and accept what she is. The fate of Luthadel delicately teeters on these counterbalancing dangers and deceptions, threatening to topple at any moment. In order to survive, Vin must confront the doubts she harbors about herself, her lover, and her fate. But if she acts, she may risk triggering a fate dreaded for the last thousand years – awakening The Deepness.
This book is epic. Over 500 pages of subterfuge, magic, and bloody battle infuse the reader with the maddening need to push on. With the world building finished in the last book, Sanderson has used this one to fully focus his vision, weaving a story so complex that many of the characters themselves are left struggling to catch up. And yet, speaking to Sanderson’s skill, nothing in the book is too complicated for the reader to comprehend. The pace of the plot seems to vary, but only in order to develop an attachment to the characters and, in the case of Vin’s constant self-doubt, provide reason for the actions which take place.
By the end of the book, many questions have been answered, but entirely new ones propell us toward the final volume. Sanderson’s ability to author such compelling text is truly noteworthy. I find myself earnestly waiting for the next chapter in The Mistborn Trilogy.
Rating: 5 out of 5