Saturday, October 3, 2009
Title: The Well of Ascension
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Notes: Second book in the Mistborn series.
Sanderson is a Master of his Craft in this Second Volume - 5 stars - a book review
With The Final Empire (Mistborn book one) being one of the best fantasy novels I have read in the past five years, my hopes were high for the continued success of this fantasy world. Needless to say, I was not disappointed, and if Sanderson continues to pump out books at this pace (almost one a year) and this quality (magnificent) he could be hailed in the upper echelons of greats fantasy writers of the decade.
In The Well of Ascension, Brandon Sanderson not only builds upon the unique world and intriguing characters introduced in The Final Empire, but he also shows off his marvelous writing skills by expanding his storytelling repertoire into areas that were not explored previously. While The Final Empire was heavy world building, character introduction, coming of age story with enough magic and wizard battles to satisfy any fantasy junkie for the coming year, The Well of Ascension starts to explore another facet of fantasy fiction: political intrigue. The book starts one year after the conclusion of The Final Empire: Elende Venture is now the king in his experimental idealistic governmental setup imagined around beers with his friends in the previous installment. Since large portions of the book are focused on the political manuevering, The Well of Ascension starts significantly slower the any other Brandon Sanderson book I have read; however, once settled into the different style of book the pacing ramps up quickly and effectively making the overall reading experience beyond satisfying.
Alongside the political nature of The Well of Ascension, there is still the coming of age story of the heroine from The Final Empire, Vin. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Mistborn trilogy (so far) is the stereotypical fantasy coming of age story told in such a way that is original and engaging, making it nearly impossible to compare to the timeless tale of a boy gaining powers and saving the world. Vin has not only gained significant powers and is still struggling to find her powerful place in the world, but she is also struggling with problems that are far above her maturity level including falling in love, a sense of honor and duty, and the price each of these play on her own mortality.
Finally, what would a good fantasy story be without magic and fighting? As luck would have it, as true to form, there is no need to worry with The Well of Ascension. There is plenty of Pushing and Pulling and allomancer battles to feast upon. As Vin grows more powerful so does the epic-ness of the battles. The fight scenes are beautiful realized and exceptionally original; I could read the epic 700 page tomes of the Mistborn trilogy for the fight scenes alone. I started reading fantasy for the escapism from the real world and found magical worlds where my imagination could run wild. What I really look for in a fantasy book is something that leaves me with visual images that stick with me and that I can fully realize with very little effort. The tales and descriptions in the Mistborn books provide some of the most fully realized, enjoyable, engaging, and believable memories in modern fantasy.
All in all, The Well of Ascension, while starting a little slowly, is a tour de force of fantasy imagery, worldbuilding, and storytelling. If Sanderson is not already at the top his game with his first few books in his career (Elantris and Mistborn) I can’t even begin to imagine what is in store for fantasy in the next decade; of course, with Sanderson at the helm, I won’t have to do much imagining on my own and will be able to sit back and enjoy the ride.
My only minor complaint about this publication is the fact that there is a quote on the back of the mass market paperback comparing Brandon Sanderson to Terry Goodkind...
I’m still mad at myself that I let these books sit on my shelf for years waiting to be read.
Plants and Books