Title: The Well of Ascension
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.36
“It’s easy to believe in something when you win all the time…The losses are what define a man’s faith.”
The Well of Ascension is the second book in the era one Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. For a thousand years, the Lord Ruler reigned over his domain known as the Final Empire on the planet Scadrial… Until suddenly, everything changed because of a small group of thieves who were determined to bring about a revolution. With a new world emerging, it is up to the same thieves to keep it from imploding.
World building: Sanderson puts an incredible amount of effort into his world building. He will impress you with his level of detail. In The Well of Ascension, he builds upon the information provided about the planet, magic systems, class society, cultures, and characters that were introduced in The Final Empire. On top of that, he adds in more detail about the new world following the Lord Ruler’s death. There are three major magic systems within The Well of Ascension that beautifully weave together. Each magic system has limitations that prevent it from being all-powerful so the characters that possess one of the abilities are restricted in some way which allows for an interesting dynamic within the book. As for the planet Scadrial, it is within his universe known as the Cosmere. If you’ve read any of his other books, most of them are a part of the Cosmere including Warbreaker and the Stormlight Archive series. So I suppose Sanderson is not just a great world builder but also a universe builder.
Character development: As for the character development in The Well of Ascension, Sanderson has done better in other books. Some of the character arcs leave you with whiplash. And Sanderson’s romantic relationship development could use some TLC – it is one of the weaker parts in this book. When comparing The Well of Ascension character development to the Stormlight Archive series or to the era two Mistborn trilogy, you’ll be able to tell the difference. With that said, the characters on their own are still fantastic with unique personalities and behaviors. Some of the characters introduced in era one’s Mistborn trilogy are still some of my absolute favorites.
Climax: As is typical in Sanderson’s books, the last 150 pages include a few amazing scenes and twists. With the book’s focus on politics and government issues, you might expect the end of the book to be rather dull or slow compared to The Final Empire. Do not worry! Sanderson wraps up The Well of Ascension in a crazy and unexpected way. Once you’ve finished era one, you have to read Mistborn: Secret History because it adds context to some of the scenes that you’ll find in The Well of Ascension.
Plenty of Sanderson’s books have made my list of favorites. The reason The Well of Ascension does not make that list is because of the weaker character and romance development. With that said, the world building and magic systems are spectacularly done. If you’re interested in committing to an epic fantasy trilogy where all of the books are all readily available, this is a great book for you! Mistborn era one is also a good place to start if you’re new to Sanderson’s Cosmere universe.