The Well of Ascension: Book Two of Mistborn
by Brandon Sanderson
Edited by Moshe Feder
Cover Artist: Christian McGrath
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765356130
Date: 03 June 2008 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
[Editor's Note: We're re-running Harriet Klausner's review from our August 2007 issue]
Kelsier was the leader of the resistance against the tyranny of the Lord Ruler who reigned for a thousand years after he took the power at the Well of Ascension instead of letting it go. He died a martyr's death and his followers continued his legacy. Vin, a slight young woman but a powerful being who burns metals inside her body to gain powers, was the one who killed the Lord Ruler. That act brought the empire down and turned it into a group of warrior kingdoms whose leaders vie to gain more land and consolidate their power.
Vin is one of the most powerful Mistborns in the world, one who can burn all the metals and become a one person army. She and her lover Elend Venture, and the rest of Kelsier's followers are in the Central Dominance city of Luthadel where he is the king. They had peace for more than a year before armies from other Dominances come to besiege the city. One of the men who wants to rule in El's place is his father, a ruthless man who wouldn't hesitate to kill his disinherited son if it means gaining control of the domain.
Another ruler Lord Cett has come with a force as large as that of the one Elend's father brought. The kingdom where he rules is in disarray and he hopes to start a new rule for himself by taking Luthadel. Even more of Kelsier's followers arrive as Jastes Lekal has brought an army of kolass, a race of humanoid warriors created and controlled by the Lord Ruler to open up the besieged city. The only problem is he doesn't know how to control them so he pays them and for now they are content to follow his lead.
Within the veiled city Vin is playing bodyguard to the king who has people within the city and outside wanting him dead. She meets Zane, a Mistborn as powerful as herself who makes her question her loyalty to Elend's ideals that led to him receiving a no-confidence vote from the council. The council has thirty days to pick a new king. He accepts the ruling forcing Vin to turn to Zane who is as street smart as her. While plans are made to withstand the siege, danger threatens in other parts of the empire. Mist, the strange fog that comes every night, starts lingering longer and causes people to become ill targeting certain individuals for death. Vin sees a person in the Mist and hears a thumping that comes from the mist only she could hear. Zane tries to turn her against her lover but his actions actually clarifies what she wants out of life, and who she loves, and what she owes her allegiance to. When it looks like the city might fall, Vin's inner circle tries to find a way to get her and Elend out so the youngsters have a chance of life together. This is more difficult than it seems because although Elend is no longer king his allegiance is to Luthadel and so is Vin's.
The heroes who broke the Lord Ruler's Empire find it is much easier to tear something down for the greater good of humanity than how to get them into following a better, more democratic way. Elend is an idealist, too good to rule a people who are used to a harsh lord ruler. They are afraid of power and want other people to tell them what to do. Elend doesn't stay bitter at being ousted form power because his love of his city and of Vin sustains him. Vin was a ska, a serf at the mercy of the nobles, who learned to come into her power from Kelsier who she loved like a father. As the book progresses she grows and becomes more of confident of her skills and her powers which are more and stronger than any other Mistborn's powers. Readers will find her relationship with her kandra who take on the form of a large vicious dog, fascinating and at times amusing. They go from enemies to friends as Vin learns to care about him and treat him as a being worthy of respect instead of a slave.
This is a great epic fantasy even as it is straightforward following a linear path for the most part. There are only a few scenes that parallel each other. Each character's point of view also takes place in a linear manner meaning they don't take place at various times. Fans of Terry Goodkind and Terry Brooks will find The Well of Ascension fulfilling, satisfying and incredibly exciting.