The Year of Sanderson – The Well of Ascension (Mistborn II)

WARNING. Do not read this if you haven’t read Mistborn I. It’s full of spoilers.

It’s strange to go into the second book of a trilogy and find that you have absolutely no freaking clue what is ahead. For all intents and purposes the primary objective of the series has been completed, hasn’t it? There were definite winners in that story, so what now?

The Well of Ascension takes place a year after the Lord Ruler was defeated and Elend Venture – Vin’s love interest – is King of The Final Empire. But, his rule is failing, and his people are suffering.

“It is a time of change,” Sazed said. ”Perhaps it is also time to learn of other truths, other ways.”

There are new bad guys afoot. Elend’s own father, Straff Venture has come with his very own Mistborn – the vastly intriguing Zane – and a huge army to claim Luthadel for himself. You know, after he fled the city in the last book and left his son to fend for himself. Dick move, Straff.

“When you can’t have freedom and safety, boy, which do you choose?”

But, Straff Venture is not the only one threatening Elend’s rule. The warlord Cett has brought an army, and then there is that army of Koloss – the Lord Ruler’s former army of 12 foot tall monsters with baggy blue skin – heading their way to lay siege to Luthadel also. People dying, everywhere. A lot.

Men like power, and they love controlling something powerful

When the Lord Ruler was defeated by Vin, and Elend was made to be King, he re-wrote the laws of the Final Empire, and the blessed idealistic boy made allowances for an ‘Assembly’ to help him decide the best interests of the City. The Assembly also have the power to depose him via a vote of no confidence. So when there are 3 armies laying siege to the City, and there is a way to essentially ‘vote out’ the unwanted King, you know that there are games afoot.

Elend sat still in a room full of men who trusted him, even as they rejected him.

Vin’s character has somewhat devolved by this book. Don’t get me wrong, she is now a spectacular Mistborn, but she has taken huge steps backward in other areas. During Book I, she had grown more confident and sure of herself despite the horrors of her life, and Elend had hand in that, but Kelsier, probably changed her the most. Post Kelsier’s death, Vin has regressed to her former suspicious, mistrustful self, and gets worse as the story continues.

Ham shook his head, sitting down, pouring himself something to drink. “I don’t get it, El. Why’d she attack him?”
“She’s loony,” Spook said.”

Without Kelsier’s guidance, she doubts herself, doubts her purpose. She barely sleeps because she needs to protect Elend, but at the same time she feels Elend is changing and wants only to use her as his blade. And poor Vin has cottoned onto what she believes may be her true purpose in this fight. It’s no wonder her head is a mess, which is compounded by the presence of Zane, Straff’s Mistborn who manipulates her, echoing her own thoughts night after night and then comforting her with their similarities – leaving Vin even more confused over her feelings for both Elend and Zane. Pulling away from the original crew, confused and frightened, overcome with Ruin, Vin becomes violent and reckless.

“This is what we are Vin,” he said quietly. Wind and mist whipped around them as they fell, the tassels of Vin’s Mistcloak writhing in the air around Zane. “Why do you play their games? Why do you let them control you?”

Zane was a wonderful character to read in his insanity. Especially when everything comes to a head, and Zane has been one of the best strategists of all the players, setting his own traps, the worst of those in encouraging Vin to realise her potential as the killer she believes herself to be.

“You were supposed to save me.”

I thought it a strong second book – obviously somewhat of a bridge book, with a finish as bloody as the last. The Crew are trying to hold Luthadel, all the while Ruin’s entraped mind is influencing and seeking release from his prison. Something has to give….onto Book III.  Five stars.

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