“The Well of Ascension” is where the Lord Ruler gained godlike powers to battle the Deepness and then transform the world instead of just releasing it, or that’s what Kelsier’s crew believed throughout the second Mistborn book by Brandon Sanderson. The middle volume of the Mistborn trilogy not only has the magic of allomancy of the first but realpolitik as the Final Empire collapses into numerous kingdoms.
The book begins a year after the Collapse following the death of the Lord Ruler with more point-of-view characters from the beginning than “Final Empire” had initially, giving a sense of the bigger scope that “Ascension” is meant to have given the plot threads throughout the book. The primary character continues to be the street urchin-turned-Mistborn Vin who not only protects the city from antagonistic allomancers bent on assassinating Elend Venture who rules Luthadel as King and who wants to marry her. Elend along with Vin and the rest of the Kelsier crew must deal with three armies arriving and besieging the former imperial capital as well as dealing with internal political intrigue. And only to add stuff on top of that, the ever present nightly mist is starting to crept into the day, form spirits, and kill people.
At about 760 pages, “Ascension” is a 100 pages longer than “Final Empire” and given the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and political conflicts within the book this seems a reasonable. Unfortunately there were brief stretches in which the writing drags in the middle and last third of the book as internal conflicts are rehashed once again for Vin and Elend in regards to themselves and the other, the sheer amount of times it’s repeat gets wearing to the reader. The book has a lot of unforeseen twists that catches the reader off guard both positively and negatively depending on the clues only picked up on after the fact, if there are any. However unlike the “Final Empire” in which the last 100 pages turned out to be a weakness, the last 100 pages of Ascension was a strength as subplots were resolved and the story threads quickly interwove for quiet a interesting ending that makes you want to see what happens next in “Hero of Ages”.
As with all second acts, all doesn’t go well for the heroes even though they survive (for the most part) and strive to build a better world than the one they’ve had. “The Well of Ascension” builds upon what Brandon Sanderson began in “Final Empire” not only in the present time frame of his world, but into it’s past and setting up a potentially fantastic ending to the “Mistborn” trilogy.