Friday, January 9, 2015

The Well of Ascension

The second book in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy is entitled The Well of Ascension and follows a year after the events of the first book in the series, Mistborn. There we were introduced to a world formed into what is known as The Final Empire, ruled over by a tyrannical despot known as the Lord Ruler. The different regions of the kingdom are comprised by the nobility and a race of slave workers known as the Skaa. The different nobles scratch and claw for power and control under the watchful eye of the Lord Ruler. In the land there are people known as allomancers, with special powers that were said to have been created by the immortal Lord Ruler. The rarest among these gifted people are the Mistborn, nearly invincible with the powers that they control. Nobles who control such creatures are men who should not be crossed.

At the end of Mistborn, the Lord Ruler had been deposed by the mistborn Vin. In the wake of this incident her legend has swept far and wide. The largest city in the Final Empire, Luthadel, was the seat of power of the Lord Ruler. It is believed that his vast cache of treasures is stored there, and with his removal, two powerful nobles, Lords Straff Venture and Ashweather Cett, have raised armies and marched on the city to take possession of the Lord Ruler's treasuries. The new king of Luthadel is Straff Venture's son Elend, who has fallen deeply in love with Vin. The story's power is the tension between the two massive armies encamped outside the city walls, each alone easily more than a match for the small force under Elend's control, but each posturing against the other. Against this backdrop is the gripping love story of the powerful mistborn Vin who is trying to understand who she is and why she has the powers that she has. She struggles with coming to understand Elend and her place in his life. On the one hand she knows that she is loved, but she is overwhelmed by protecting him from the assassins who have been charged with killing him and by the fact that she feels like a tool used by the king to protect his kingdom. On the other hand, Elend, a man with no powers of allomancy, struggles to understand the demons that his dear Vin must face on a regular basis, all while trying to find some path to save his people against overwhelming odds.

In this story, Vin is drawn to find the legendary Well of Ascension, a mythical and mystical place where it is said the Lord Ruler became a god and rose to power. She comes to believe that this place is the source of her power and that she is called to find it in order to save her people. Yet when she finally makes sense of the ancient texts and finds the well, she is in for a horrible truth. Instead of saving the land and its people, she seems to have expedited their doom. A grand, exciting, and absolutely superb story, just as was Mistborn. If you like fantasy novels, then these works should be at the top of your list. The final story in the trilogy is entitled The Hero of Ages.