on 26 July 2013
In some ways this is a strange book to evaluate. Firstly, for the majority of it not really that much happens. The bulk of the book is concerned with a city under siege and the political and military manoeuvrings of numerous characters concerned with this. It feels a lot like a stand off until the final stages of the story. A lot of this time is devoted to strengthening and expanding on characters from the previous novel (especially Elend whose character develops in various directions due to the flow of events, becoming very interesting and likeable) and introducing some new ones. This means that the novel does occasionally have that second part in a trilogy feel of treading water. Somehow, even without a great deal happening, the pace does not seem to slacken that much (even though it is noticeably slower than the previous novel in the series). There is certainly enough going on, sometimes ticking away in the background, to keep the reader intrigued. And the strength of the characterisation easily helps to carry things along.
Secondly, and a little disappointingly, not much more of this fantasy world is depicted (or even visited) despite the maps offered at the front of the book. This seems a pity. The action is again virtually all within Luthadel. This worked fabulously in the first book by creating a claustrophobic air. However, it isn't quite so successful at maintaining such an atmosphere this time. Hopefully the third volume will reveal more of this world the author has created.
The eponymous Well of Ascension itself is mainly just something occasionally mentioned in the background for most of the novel and you could easily forget about for much of the time. Its importance in the concluding stages is fairly effective though.
The action scenes are convincingly and excitingly written and the magic system, although it develops little from the previous novel, is still a very intriguing creation. The conclusion of the story once again manages to supply enough answers to satisfy the reader whilst raising more questions for the next book in the saga. The strength of these elements and the very convincing characterisation easily compensate for any middle volume short comings. Although not as good as `The Final Empire', it is a very worthy and enjoyable sequel.
on 30 July 2008
I was a bit disappointed by this book, having liked the first one
The story starts off a few months after the end of book one.
Elend is appointed king and rules the city, while Vin is protecting him and the city from assassins and spies. The Skaa, having won the rebellion and overthrown the lord ruler, is again threatened, this time by a overwhelming nobleman army led by Elend's father, intent on taking the city for himself as the world is in chaos after the Lord rulers demise.
The bulk of the book revolves around the city under siege, with both internal and external politicking, and Vin and Elends relationship.
I found both the politics and military strategies of all parties involved to be at times both naive and unrealistic, and thought that several of the scenarios seemed poorly thought out.
The romantic problems between Vin and Elend, revolves around them both feeling that the other is too good for them, and that they are too different. This whole part did not engage me at all, it seemed very contrived and stiff, not to mention unoriginal.
Although the action sequences are still well written, and the story picks up pace and gets exciting at the end, this was overall a disappointing 2nd book.
It haven't the depth in politics and tactics to compare to other epics fantasy series, and feels a bit shallow in comparison.
I'll still get the final installment when it comes in pocket version though.
on 23 March 2013
I really enjoyed the first book and this series had been recommended to me by a number of people, so I was hoping this would be like the first book: readable with an original and compelling storyline. Unfortunately this was not my experience...
I think the fundamental problem with this book is that it seems confused about whether it wants to be a fantasy epic or a romance novel. It should want to be a fantasy epic! In book one I felt pretty neutral about Vin and Elend (she was obviously the tortured heroine, he was obviously the hero with much to learn, I assumed there would be a bubbling of romantic tension while the story got on its way...). The characters are very clunky and one dimensional anyway, there is no subtlety in any of the character development, and nearly HALF THE BOOK is taken up with insecure adolescent musings.
'Does he love me? Do I love him? Does he know that I love him, or if I know that I don't know that I love him? Maybe he just loves me because I love to wear ballgowns. But do I really love to wear ballgowns? I just don't know!'
This frustrated me for a number of reasons:
1. If I wanted to read a book about badly written teenage romance, then I would have chosen to read one of any number of books in that genre that already exist
2. This actively detracted from the story. I found myself wishing that something terrible would happen to one or the other of them so that the story could continue in a different vein, except that would have inevitably resulted in the remaining teenage character moping for the rest of the trilogy
3. Don't build a strong heroine character only to knock her down, essentially, because being female means that saving the world is secondary to boyfriends and lipstick
On the upside, Ore'seur and Sazed are still interesting characters, and when the story does pick itself up again it's gripping again. I was this close to giving up halfway through though...
on 21 August 2008
I've rather enjoyed this book. Its not as good as the first book in the series, but the writing style was very readable and, unusually, the ending wasn't obvious from page one.
The author does a good job evolving the characters and spins a decent, well thought out yarn. Both of which are often missing in modern fantasy.
If you liked the other books by this author, then you will definitely enjoy this one.
on 26 February 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed the opening book of the Mistborn triology but approached The Well of Ascension with some scepticism - sequels often do not emulate their predecessors. Thankfully I need not have worried - The Well of Ascension certainly does not disappoint.
Sanderson writes with flair and in parts is gripping, but he also writes with a real sense of emotion and one can really sympathise with Vin and Elend's tangled feelings for each other being compromised by their sense of duty to the people.
The style is the same as with Mistborn with snippets from a previous age prefacing each chapter and the book reaches a satisfying conclusion with a cracking little twist at the end. Lots of questions are answered as the story concludes, but many more are posed leaving us nicely poised for the final book.
In the last 2 years we have lost David Gemmell and Robert Jordan, 2 of the greatest authors of this genre. Brandon Sanderson has stepped up to the plate as a worthy new name in fantasy and he fully deserves to be charged with the task o finishing Jordan's epic Wheel of Time series. Great work Brandon, long may it continue !!
on 12 September 2015
Book two of this extraordinarily original fantasy series created by one of the profession’s elite is a smooth, fun, fast, and exciting read right from the opening page. Vin - the once street urchin - is still in love with young King Elend, and young King Elend is till in love with Vin. Most of the old gang have returned, and even the dead ones tend to linger via their ghosts. There are even hints of someone’s return, but I may be reading too strongly between the lines there for that comment to be valid.
The story opens with a siege. The city is surrounded by more bad guys than you can shake a (metaphorical) stick at, and its up to the heroes of book one to come together again and develop a solution that will ensure their survival, as well as that of the city’s inhabitants, too.
Mr Sanderson’s writing never seems to get bogged down in ’boring bits’. The chapters are relatively short, but even the longer ones are comprised of mini chapters that are obvious places to put the book down (why would you?) if you have the need. Kudos must again go the publisher for these beautifully presented paperbacks. Gorgeously stunning covers (that match the originality of the story found within) and lovely thick, smelly paper to adore as the reader traverses the land of The Final Empire.
And maps. I like maps. Maps rule.
Of course this book is not just about surviving a siege. There is the hunt for the legendary stash of atium that is rumoured to be hidden (somewhere...) way back when, by the Lord Ruler. There are lands for the reader to explore (via minor and major characters such as Sazed) and he comes upon a doozie of a monster species called the blue-skinned Koloss. Very violent, very fast growing, very very ugly and very quick to die. I love these guys!
The writing is not goose-bump inducingly beautiful. How can it be when the entire fable is based on a riddle that you read backwards. Book one opened with a dead city, being governed by the bad guys and it was only the efforts of a small group of revolutionaries (that had no idea that plants and trees are meant to be green, and that the sky is meant to be blue - not black) who have made such an impact on the lives of the populace they were fighting for.
Of course other heinous characters return, but not in such an intimidating way. The Steel inquisitors are a truly brilliant creation, and they feel like something that belongs in a horror novel, as opposed to a fantasy one. But such is the world that was created by the author of this incredible tale, that they fit right in.
The story is a tad slow in the first third, until we meet the book’s arguably pivotal character. Zane is his name, but nothing more will I add about him to this review for fear of spoilers. His place in the story is significant (obviously) and he is one seriously dangerous dude from many perspectives.
Of course the story goes on. Just like the WELL OF ASCENSION itself, book two is a deep, deep, deep, and always thrilling ride into an unknown land, populated with men, women, children, monsters, and even ash that falls from a black sky, and where the populace are too scared to venture out at night for fear of death waiting for them in mist form.
And so this book gets a very solid four stars from me. Now, back to reading of the rescue of THE FINAL EMPIRE I go. Wish me luck, fellow book lover. If I fail to return, feel free to send out a search party. I am heading north, to the TERRIS DOMINANCE, home of the sacred Well of Ascension. For that is where rumour tells me the stashed source of mystical attium can be found.
Second in a trilogy of fantasy novels entitled 'Mistborn.' This volume runs for just over seven hundred and sixty pages. It does contain a very brief summary of the first book [on the final page] and new readers might be able to get into it, but they would still be better off starting with the first book The Final Empire: Mistborn Book One.
Not least because it's hard to review this one without minor spoilers for book one....
This volume is divided into six parts plus an epilogue. The parts are further divided into fifty nine chapters. There are maps of the setting at the beginning and various glossaries of characters and places and other things at the end. Plus the aforementioned summary of book one.
At the end of that book, the Lord Ruler had been overthrown. But without Kelsier, the rebellion has to work out how to manage what comes next. Elend is King. Struggling to deal with the politics of the city assembly. Vin is learning about her powers. But is being distracted by a strange watcher.
And the city is about to fall under siege from armies they have no hope of defeating.
Added to which, the course of true love is running anything but smooth for Vin and Elend. And nobody knows where the Lord Ruler's supply of Atium is. Can the city hope to survive?
As with book one this grabs initially but then takes a bit of a dip, and doesn't really get going till around page one hundred. There's lots going on, but precious little action to start with. Vin and Elend's relationship woes do get a bit annoying at times. But the supporting characters and their various quests are compelling from the off.
However, once this does click it really does work very well. It juggles multiple plot strands nicely, has some excellent surprises, and again asks the reader hard moral questions about the nature of the setting and the politics involved.
Many of the plot strands that appear in this volume are resolved by the end. Some do get precious little attention, but they are advanced in the end, and will clearly be the focus of the final volume.
A solid continuation of a very good story.
The Final Empire was a tightly focused, plot-driven story. This book is rather less focused. Unlike last time where they had a fairly clear end goal (destroy the Empire) here they have to deal with the uncertainties of politics and two armies besieging Luthadel. The siege takes up most of the book, even though the title and most of the concluding chapters is tied up in the Well of Ascension and saving the world from the mists. I honestly didn't find the siege interesting, and while the character development was nice it went on far too long without any resolution. Perhaps it should have been two smaller books? At any rate it feels long and has some tedious moments despite the general quality of the work itself.
Having defeated the dark lord in that last book what's left to do? Well this is where the story starts defying the genre conventions and deals with the ideals of the survivors. Elend's government isn't doing too well, nor have people flocked to the good guys' side in the wake of the Lord Ruler's death. Instead everything is tied up in petty politics and poor decision-making. Meanwhile the mists have started popping up in the day, and this time they're killing people. Throughout the book there is an undertone of dread as Vin tries to work out what's going on in the world. Essentially the plot is divided between the big picture (evil force that the Lord Ruler defeated is returning) and the little picture (Luthadel is under siege and politics suck).
But the main focus of the book is not empires or battles, but the changing relationship between Vin and Elend. I have to say that I find them the cutest and most authentic couple in fantasy literature. Most of my favorite parts in the last book came from Elend's odd behavior and Vin's uncertainty how to deal with him. But now he's king and uncertainty and eccentricity have to be avoided. He is growing up throughout this book and learning to project his power in a way that people will respect. But the question is whether he'll do it in time?
Vin is going through an even harder patch as she tries to find purpose in her life without any real guidance. She feels confused about her life and her goals and this is all tied up in her uncertainties and insecurities. She doesn't feel that she deserves Elend and worse she feels driven to find someone capable of understanding her situation and abilities. Most of the book is taken up with her agonizing over this and related issues such as her own helplessness to protect him. Basically she is a superpowered teenage girl only with even more issues given her background.
There are other characters returning, but none of them get nearly as much time as they did in the last book. The only major new character is Zane, Elend's half-brother and a Mistborn serving under Elend's father, the evil Straff. He's insane and seems intent on getting Vin to come with him. He's also the closest thing this book comes to a main villain. After an immortal dark lord running an evil empire he's something of a letdown.
A good part of the problem here is that they never really go anywhere. Admittedly the last book didn't range that far outside of Luthadel either, but it made up for it by its tight focus and string of major events. Here they don't have anything happening for most of the time, and what little they do have is rushed in at the end. The whole well of ascension quest doesn't even begin until 2/3 of the way through the book. Even then it feels like a distraction. It comes so out of nowhere in fact that I thought they were saving the resolution of that story arc for book three. I don't want to bash the book too much because it's still very good, but its lack of focus made for very disjointed and slow reading. The final book (The Hero of Ages) recovers from this, but it is a decidedly gloomy entry into what was an often dark, but always entertaining series.
In conclusion, this book has a lot of good and important character moments. Elend learning to become a king is probably the most important change that they need to cover and Vin's uncertainties and insecurities are something she needs to overcome. These moments are generally handled pretty well, but the plot is too lacking to truly keep your interest. The siege of the city isn't that interesting, and while he gets the tension quite high it's only because he ends the siege story arc and stuffs a new one in there. The final conclusion and revelation are great, but they'd have been much greater if they had been properly set up earlier.
on 22 June 2012
Although I felt that it's predecessor lacked a certain something, I was nevertheless excited to read book two in the Mistborn series.
During the first third of the book, I was left massively disappointed. The basic premise of the magic system and who each and every character was was rehashed and told again. Possibly fair enough, but then moving from book one of a trilogy, should those who have read the first be subject to pages of re-telling at the expense of the few who have decided to skip the first book? I would suggest no.
As other reviewers have mentioned, there is a lot more, for want of a better word, 'lovey-dovey' stuff going on, although not as much as some might suggest and it wasn't poorly done either. For me though, although Sanderson tried to make his characters three dimensional, I was left with the feeling that Vin was simply a cold and untrusting little girl, rather than the growing, emotionally and physically, woman that I assume Sanderson tried to portray her as. Similarly, despite Elend being dressed in a uniform which was really the only character progression that he achieved, I can honestly say that I did not feel connected to the character what-so-ever. The only real characters of interest were Sazed (who has morphed into a sort of JaJa Binks figure in my mind!) and OreSeur, who I loved. However I read on.
The second third of the book involved no real action either, and was instead a mass of politicking and talking and speeches. Whilst Sanderson did well, I doubt whether even Tolkien could have made such a topic interesting, although the missing Kandra did seek to add some suspense into the story.
We are introduced to another main character also, Zane. Despite being Elend's half-brother, this is all we really hear of their relationship. There is no conflict between him and said brother, but instead an obscene amount of 'sparring', talking and confessions of love between him and Vin, who has appointed herself as Elend's protector, in a sickening 'Twilight' fashion. The character might have been interesting, a figure dressed all in black, the charismatic and mysterious man. However, once again the character is underdeveloped, or maybe even too developed, so that he feels stale and overworked.
Despite this, the last fifty of so pages of the book made up for boring first half. There was lots of action and emotions and most importantly suspense. The ending was certainly a twist. I would, however, make the following three criticisms about the text as a whole:
1. The books feels like simply a set-up for the third novel, however if it's a brilliant one and better than the last two, I won't mind too much.
2. As I mentioned in my review for the previous book, it is SUCH a shame that Sanderson does not adequately explore the world he has created. In the latter part of TWOA, we see the two main characters finally leave. Here, I thought, was the exploration I had been longing for, of the North Terris mountains. But alas, no.
3. As also mentioned, and perhaps my biggest peeve, is the fight scenes which involve just stupid amounts of Pushing and Pulling, so much so that I actually just skim read most of the scenes.
Despite this, the book was still enjoyable, although perhaps not unputdownable. I will reserve final judgement until the third of the triology, and suggest others do so also.
on 21 September 2010
The second book in the mistborn trilogy is as thrilling and as amazing as the first. It begins a year after the events of the last book, with Elend struggling to convince the government of his ideas. Vin, meanwhile, is fighting the mists, who ere once her friends, but now has turned, killing those who are not immune.
The three different would-be rulers attack the city of Luthadel , and Vin and Elend are trapped, trying to find a way for freedom.
Vin loves Elend, but feels that she is not worthy enough for him, yet Elend feels even more inadequate with Vin's growing powers, and his mortality.
After Vin and Elend marry (Finally...) Vin forces the would-be leaders to agree to make Elend emperor. You might think, all is sorted, yet the mystery of the mists remain. Vin and Elend travel to the Well of Ascension, where as Elend is attacke, Vin is forced with a choice....release the power and save humanity (as the prophecy claims) as take the power for herself, and save Luthadel...
This book is as good as the first, with romance and adventure galore and as I am halfway through the third, this captivating saga is a must-buy. It has quickly become my most favourite books in my collection.
Amazing, simply amazing. Surely they must make a film....if not, I shall be extremely disapointed.
Woukld give it more than five stars if I could.