Book Review: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

The Well of Ascension is the second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, following the events of the first book The Final Empire. I couldn’t wait to dive into this sequel and continue following the adventures of Vin, Elend, and the rest of the crew.

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

TitleThe Well of Ascension
AuthorBrandon Sanderson
GenreFantasy, Fiction
Publication DateAugust 21, 2007
Length640 pages

Where to Purchase

Introduction to the Book

For those who haven’t read the first book, The Final Empire introduces us to the mysteriousVin, a street urchin who discovers she’s a Mistborn with powerful magical abilities. Vin gets swept up with a group led by Kelsier who are plotting to overthrow the Lord Ruler, the supposed god-like figure who has ruled over the land with an iron fist for a thousand years. By the end of the first book, the crew succeeds in destroying the Lord Ruler, upending the Final Empire.

The Well of Ascension picks up in the aftermath of this monumental event. With the Final Empire in ruins, various factions are now vying for power and control over the capital city Luthadel. Our main character Vin finds herself in a surprising role, using her Mistborn abilities to protect her lover Elend, who has been chosen as king by the people. Political intrigue, new threats, and more intense magical action ensue!

My Thoughts on the Plot

One of the most compelling parts of this book is seeing how all the characters deal with the fallout from the first book. With the Lord Ruler gone, they have more freedom but also far less stability in the land. Sanderson does a great job writing nuanced character arcs dealing with the complexities of revolution and political power.

A particular highlight is Vin’s inner turmoil as she tries to reconcile her role as Elend’s protector and the skaa’s symbolic hero with her ingrained instincts to trust no one. Sanderson really expands on Vin’s character in this book, exploring her vulnerabilities and relationship challenges in a realistic way.

The plotting and pacing of the story is brilliant. There are multiple exciting storylines going on at once, from assassin attacks to Koloss army invasions, so the narrative never lags. The magical system of Allomancy continues to be incredibly inventive with truly cinematic action sequences. New types of Mistborn powers are revealed and put to use in thrilling fight scenes.

And the ending! Sanderson finishes the book on such an exhilarating cliffhanger, setting up the conflicts for the final book perfectly. I couldn’t wait to see how this intense conclusion would play out for all my favorite characters.

What I Loved

One of the biggest things I loved about this book was the further expansive worldbuilding. The first book focused primarily on Luthadel, but in this novel we get to journey across the empire to colorful new locales. Tindwyl’s homeland of Terris offers fascinating glimpses into an entirely different culture and magical system. And the forward base of Fadrex City provided a great change of scenery from drab Luthadel.

I really enjoyed the new additions to the cast of characters as well. Tindwyl acts as a harsh but astute mentor to Vin, pushing her to realize her leadership potential in engaging ways. Zane is a complex and morally ambiguous foil to Vin’s boyfriend Elend, challenging her emotions. And OreSeur the kandra is a cool and cunning new sidekick for Vin.

The themes of leadership, sacrifice, idealism vs. pragmatism woven throughout the story gave the book real intellectual depth beneath all the thrilling fantasy action. Sanderson’s ability to weave philosophy organically through character choices and dialogue is impressive.

Overall, I found The Well of Ascension to be an utterly absorbing continuation of the Mistborn saga. It expands the magical system and world in creative ways while delving deeper into character motivations in a multilayered narrative. I couldn’t get enough of this novel, and it left me eager to see how everything comes together in the conclusion! Brandon Sanderson continues to cement himself as one of the masters of epic fantasy storytelling.


  • Paula Davis

    Paula Davis is a dedicated and seasoned content writer for Dreaming and Reading, where she brings her extensive knowledge and passion for literature to a wide audience of fellow book enthusiasts. With the heart of a true bookworm, Paula has immersed herself in the literary world, devouring approximately 50 books annually for the last 15 years. This impressive reading habit has not only provided her with immense joy but has also significantly honed her expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in the realm of book reviews. Her insightful and well-crafted reviews reflect her deep understanding and appreciation of various genres, offering valuable guidance to readers in search of their next great read. With a finger always on the pulse of the latest literary releases, Paula Davis is a trusted voice and a go-to source for book recommendations and reviews.

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