Book of the Week: September 17th, 2015

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Sorry for the late post on this one. I was intending to get this out last week, but events conspired against me. This time, though, we do have a Book of the Week. As I said last time when I covered The Final Empire, I’m continuing with my reread of Mistborn, and moving on to Well of Ascension. Next week will feature The Hero of Ages, with The Alloy of Law after that (and keep an eye out for a review of Shadows of Self in early October).

Well of Ascension

So, Well of Ascension is an interesting book. In a lot of ways, it suffers from the typical “middle-book” stuff: it’s paced slower than the first and third books, more characters get added in and take screen time from the characters in the first book, etc. The story expands, and there isn’t a definitive ending.

The fun thing is, though, that the ending of Well of Ascension is probably the strongest part about the book. Where a lot of middle books stumble here, Sanderson manages to craft a solid ending to the storylines set up at the beginning of the book, while using that ending to reveal another conflict for The Hero of Ages. The siege of Luthadel drags for a while during the middle sections, but boy oh boy is the payoff worth it.

Unfortunately, the build up really is slow. While Sanderson is notorious for having a long rising action before hitting a monumental climax (even spawning terms like “Sanderson Avalanche” or “Sanderlanche” to describe the climaxes), that’s not always a great thing. In some of his books, like Elantris and Way of Kings, the pacing is just too slow at points. This is also the case here in Well.

There’s a ton of character development in this book. Of necessity, Sazed and Elend become bigger characters, but that also means that a lot of the character development for Vin we got out of the way in the first book is replaced (and doubled) here. On top of that, Vin spends an awful lot of time moping and trying to deny her relationship with Elend. That particular story arc, with the Watcher, has a pretty satisfying ending and ties in well with the kandra mystery, but it’s frustrating to read through.

Nonetheless, Well of Ascension is still a decent book. Sanderson’s idiosyncrasies definitely come through fairly strongly (like his penchant for the word “paused.” Don’t get me started on that), but like in most of his books, the last 150 pages ultimately make the long slog worth it. As the weakest of the three books in the first Mistborn trilogy, I give Well of Ascencion three out of five stars. But stick with it, because better things are on the way…

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