The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Heart wrenching characters, brilliant storytelling with smooth prose.
The Well of Ascension book cover

What happens when the story you thought would take three books to finish, finishes before you even reach the second book. It’s a nice surprise, and where I found myself when I jumped hurriedly in to Brandon Sanderson’s second of his Mistborn trilogy, The Well of Ascension.

And the story of book two is simple; what happens after you win?

The answer? More often than not, it seems, is that you lose. Several times, before maybe clawing back a minor victory at the very end only to realize that you’ve unleashed doom upon the world.

That might be a little specific, but that’s how I’d sum up The Well of Ascension. It makes good use of characters that have had a book to prepare themselves for main roles – both in terms of storytelling and in terms of their own characters growth – and continues a story that winds mythology and religion underneath a healthy dose of political intrigue and scheming.

I really admire an author who doesn’t hang around with a story, dragging out points like three armies besieging a city, and gets it over and done with in the first third of the book, leaving the second third to be a well played-out stalemate.

Sanderson could be accused of writing the story a little conveniently for his own sakes, ditching certain character traits or character memories so that the story will move forward according to the overall plan. But these are such minor occurrences that the overall story is left unscathed.

And Sanderson allows himself to be pulled in to the Tolkien method of storytelling – finishing well away from the climax of the story (even though this is only the second book). The last couple of chapters dragged, for me, and I found myself skimming – unconsciously – so that I could reach what I assumed was the next climax, only to be disappointed and having skipped large portions of a characters inner monologue.

The growth of Sanderson’s characters has to be admired. From a book that focused mainly on two and a half characters (Vin, Kelsier, and Elend) to a book that allows six characters of varying importance have their own perspective, Sanderson introduces us to the newcomers with practised ease; their input into the story not strictly necessary, but welcomed.

If you want a good series to read, then Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy definitely seems like a good bet. Two out of three books are spectacular, mixing the metaphysical with political, gripping action with heart wrenching characters, brilliant storytelling with smooth prose.

This The Well of Ascension book review was written by

A video book review by WordsAndOtherGoodIdeas

The Lord Ruler is dead, the empire is broken. The nobility has scattered to the country to avoid the house war, leaving Vin and the rest of the crew, plus Elend, the only people of power left in the city. The majority of The Well of Ascension concerns the struggles of these now-free people attempting to hold on to their newfound liberality. This means that book two has a very different flavour to book 1 - it is more political, dealing with subtler plots and intrigue. While there is objectively quite a lot of action in TWOA you notice it less, and it feels perhaps a slower and less exhilarating read. That being said, every other aspect of the book is exemplary, classic Sanderson.
WordsAndOtherGoodIdeas, 7.5/10

All reviews for Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn

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The Well of Ascension reader reviews

from United Kingdom


Well, l managed to finish The Final Empire but it didn't really come across as anything special, as per my review. I thought l would give Branderson another chance with this sequel and now l wish l hadn't. The prose and dialogue is still diabolically bad and redundant. So many things repeated time and again, and so many frowns, eye rolling and snorting from the characters which does nothing for the depth of the characters involved...everyone is doing it. The dialogue between them is awful and flat too, all the characters just sound like the same person. The fight scenes are basically redundant pieces of writing and what tension? is built is very quickly dispersed by a lack of flow in the prose. So many times the reader is taken out of the action by the mentioning of 'pushing and pulling' at things and you end up with stilted action scenes. In all reality there is no sense of drama and tension really, it is all so 'stop and start', so to speak. People talk about the worldbuilding being very good, but the room locations are pretty much standard without any descriptive flair or nuance. These things are important, obviously setting the scene and engrossing the reader in believing in a fantasy setting, otherwise his own making. This is YA fiction masquerading as adult fiction, and it comes from someone who isn't in the game for the right reasons. Teenagers will love it of course because never forget that 'who cares what it's about, as long as the kids go' mentality, in this day and age.

from America


Beautiful book, well written and definitely worth your time.

from US


Slow. Fell asleep multiple times while reading and nearly dropped the series. Luckily, Hero of Ages was good enough to make up for that.

from Portugal


Brilliant! Read what you can from Sanderson, you won't be upset :)

from newcastle


Literally couldn't put it down, amazing book.

7.4/10 from 6 reviews

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