Friday, May 20, 2011

The Well of Ascension (Brandon Sanderson)

The Well of Ascension
(The Mistborn trilogy, Book 2)
Brandon Sanderson
Fiction, Fantasy
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: The Lord Ruler lies dead, His thousand-year reign over the Final Empire ended at last. In the capital city of Luthadel, the surviving members of the revolution's central crew, along with the idealistic young nobleman Elend Venture, struggle to establish a free government, where the once-enslaved skaa have equal rights and a voice in their own lives... only to find two enemy armies on their doorstep and a third on the way. When the Lord Ruler fell, the powerful noble houses who thrived under His regime wasted no time grasping for more power. Capturing the Final Empire's capital - not to mention the legendary stash of the rare metal atium said to be hidden within Luthadel's walls - would be a jewel in any would-be emperor's crown. Not only does Elend have to deal with threats from without, but turmoil and political backstabbing already threaten to topple his government from within... aided by plants and spies from the invaders beyond the city walls, and a traitor who has infiltrated the very heart of the crew.
While Elend and the others struggle to maintain control of Luthadel, the Mistborn girl Vin - former street thief, slayer of the Lord Ruler, beloved of Elend, pupil and heir to the legendary Kelsier, whose death has taken on holy overtones already in the minds of the liberated skaa - faces more disturbing troubles. A mysterious Mistborn assassin stalks the city streets, making her question her own allegiances. Strange powers reshape and strengthen the nocturnal mists that blanket the empire. And a force calls to her, possibly from the legendary Well of Ascension. The terrible events that led to the Lord Ruler's rise to power a thousand years ago seem to be repeating themselves - which means that the Deepness, a deadly entity He is said to have slain, may once again walk the world. Vin is determined to save the people of Luthadel, but how is she supposed to defeat the monster when she has no idea what it is?

REVIEW: Starting up not long after the events of Mistborn (the first book in the trilogy, reviewed here), this book follows through on the promise and the perils brought about by the fall of the corrupt Lord Ruler's regime. Idealists must temper their dreams with reality, and believers start to question their faith. More information comes to light about the thousand-year-old enigma of the Hero of Ages, a once-good man whose legacy somehow became the tyrannical Lord Ruler after unleashing the powers of the Well of Ascension. Between politics and studies, Allomancers fill the night with metal-fueled fights and bloody battles. For the most part, I found this a worthy sequel. My main complaint is that it felt too long. Sanderson keeps squeezing in more information, more twists, and more troubles, creating a whole second climax after the fairly traumatic (and very finale-like) siege of Luthadel. As a reader, I started suffering combat fatigue, wondering just how much more I was going to have to endure before hitting the end of the book. Having come this far, I expect I'll track down the third volume sometime soon, but I think I'll let my reading backlog thin out before then; I'm still mentally burned out after that final slog.

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