Book Review: Brandon Sanderson’s The Well of Ascension

Posted May 5, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Brandon Sanderson’s The Well of Ascension

The Well of Ascension


Brandon Sanderson

fantasy that was published by Tor Books on August 21, 2007 and has 590 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Mistborn: The Final Empire, The Hero of Ages, Towers of Midnight, A Memory of Light, Dangerous Women, Games Creatures Play, The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, The Bands of Mourning

Second in the Mistborn fantasy series revolving around Vin, a Mistborn, and the man she believes she loves, King Elend.

My Take

I had a hard time getting back into this series, but once I was well, in the pace picked up and I had to find out if my questions would be answered. I so wanted Elend’s ideas to triumph and Sanderson did beautifully with balancing desire and reality…even if I didn’t like it. So true of the real world…wah.

This story is one of growth for Elend and Vin. For Elend to own being a king and for Vin to realize her own value. Sazed’s own certainties take a beating and he will have to determine his path alone, going from the detached scholar he was to a grim realization. It’s of kindness and consideration as Vin finds out when her betrayer betrays his own to give her aid.

Overall, this story is about Truth. Holding to it, to one’s convictions no matter the situation, no matter the raging pull to Lie. Just this once.

Vin also has a revelation about Kelsier and how she has focused on all the wrong things. It wasn’t the hours he spent training Vin, his ability to fight, his harshness or brutality, his strength or his instincts, but his ability to trust. “…the way that he made good people into better people, the way he inspired them…[how] his crew worked because he had confidence in them — because he respected them. And, in return, they respected each other. Men…who became heroes because Kelsier had faith in them.”

There is quite enough tension and drama as it is, however, I still feel Sanderson dropped the ball a bit by not exploiting the spy the crew knows is around them. Only Vin seems to be doing anything and even that is somewhat half-hearted. Then there’s that loose thread of the poisoned water… I must have missed what happened with Lekal’s family. Or Sanderson isn’t keeping us in the know. I did enjoy the further analysis of the journal first mentioned in Mistborn; if only because it provided a bit more info on the Deepness.

I just love when Elend tells Vin: “…he told me that he trusted my judgment. He’d support me if I chose to leave him.”

Followed by Vin’s response to Zane: “Even if I can’t share his ideals, I can respect them.”

It’s the first sentence of which anyone should take heed. For it is also the last.

The Story

The vultures haven’t given King Elend and his crew much time to consolidate their hold on the city of Luthadel. It’s Elend’s own father out there first before the city walls with 50,000 troops. And without the atium, Elend’s new kingdom has no chance.

The complications continue to pile up as more armies appear. As the Assemblymen teeter on a precipice of fear and greed. It’s a time of fear and indecision for all of them as each worries as to what Kelsier would say or do, what he would think.

It’s also a time of introspection for Elend, especially when Tindwyl shows up and schools him. For Vin, it’s the appearance of another Mistborn and the doubts he plants within her mind.

The Characters

King Elend Venture is struggling to incorporate the philosophies and theories he’s spent most of his life absorbing with the political realities of governing the Central Dominance. Noorden is a scribe, one of the Obligators who chose to stay.

Vin is Elend’s assassin, bodyguard, love. She’s also Mistborn. One of those rare humans who can burn all ten of the Allomantic metals. Even rarer, she is the strongest Mistborn known. Reen is the brother she thought had abandoned her. OreSeur is the kandra whose Contract Kelsier passed to Vin. Now he must do all he can to protect her.

The rest of Kelsier’s old crew includes “Ham” Hammond, a Thug, who is the captain of Elend’s palace guard; Dockson who hates nobles but is brilliant at organization; “Clubs” Cladent, a Smoker, is Elend’s general; “Spook” Lestibournes is a good Tineye, a scout, able to trace anyone’s path and Clubs’ nephew; and, Breeze, Lord Ladrian, a Soother, who is out somewhere in the countryside.

Sazed is a Terrisman, a Keeper of knowledge. He’s also gone against the Synod’s orders. Tindwyl is a Terriswoman come to teach Elend how to be a king. She is also a Keeper and frustrated with Sazed. Marsh was Kelsier’s brother. He agreed to infiltrate the Steel Inquisitors to spy for the crew (see Mistborn) and he became one. Now he has some hidden agenda. Captain Demoux, the second-in-command of the palace guard, has a split part to play.

Straff Venture is Elend’s father. A man I wouldn’t hesitate to knife in a dark alley. The Watcher, Zane Venture, is another Mistborn. One with his own agenda. Amaranta is a discarded mistress of Straff’s who still has her uses. A singular lesson in “a woman scorned”. Lord Janarle is also Straff’s general — and becoming more and more disillusioned with his “employer”. Ashweather Cett brings up the second army and, in his way, is both more devious and more honest than Straff. Allrianne Cett is a puzzle. Devious, purposely captivating with her own Allomantic power. And I think, I think she’s in love with Breeze… Gneorndin is Cett’s protective son. It’s an interesting relationship between the father and daughter…it’ll be curious to see how it continues. TenSoon is another kandra.

The Assembly is the democratic group of lords, merchants, and skaa gathered by Elend to advise and provide a brake on the ruler. It is critical to Elend that the people, all the people, have a say in their governance. Lord Ferson Penrod leads the lords with Lord Habren, Lord Dukaler, Lord Hue, among others. The merchants are dominated by Philen Frandeu, a man who thinks only with his wallet. The skaa include Getrue, Jasten, Thurts, Haws, and Vet.

The koloss are another species of creature created by the Lord Ruler. Or, I should say monster…one that is learning. Jastes Lekal was one of Elend’s friends back in the day. One with whom he had conspired towards a better Luthadel. Now, he’s leading his own particular army back to the city.

Rashek was the Terrisman pack man who slew Alendi and became the Lord Ruler. The Mist is alive but I can’t tell if it is in league with the Voice/God. Kwaan is the Terrisman who set Alendi in motion thinking he was the Hero of Ages and savior of the Terris people, then left messages that became twisted with time.

The Cover anbd Title

The cover is all oranges and browns with Vin an exclamation of black sashed with purple wielding a sword as she swings herself around a square column to defend herself from a Thug.

It’s The Well of Ascension that is the true focus of this installment, its place in legend drawing the attention of Vin and Sazed.