Thursday, June 21, 2012

Book Review: The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2)

The covers for this series are really growing on me.  Not the regular covers, of course, which look like typically awful MMP covers, but these that I've only been able to find on Goodreads.  If any of you find a place where I could buy the books with these covers, I'd love to hear about it!  This review will definitely contain spoilers for the first book in the series, Mistborn: The Final Empire.  If you haven't read Mistborn: The Final Empire, LOOK AWAY NOW.

Have you looked away yet?  If not, I'm serious.  Do it now.

Ok, so book two takes place two years after the death of the Lord Ruler in book one.  Elend has taken over the Central Dominance as king and is running the show along with a council made up of various ex-noblemen and skaa.  Things are still not going smoothly for Vin and Elend, though.  The council is filled with traitorous backstabbers, three other kings threaten to invade, including Elend's own father, and a mysterious Mistborn with powers similar to Vin's is sneaking into the city at night.  In addition, Vin can't forget warning the Lord Ruler gave as he died. 

I definitely saw an improvement in the writing in this book, although I still feel like it's not amazing.  However, book two does clear up some of the major issues I had with the writing in book one.  You can read my review of that book here.  One of my major problems was with the Lord Ruler as a villain.  While I still maintain that he wasn't the villain I had hoped for in book one, he is really fleshed out in book and two and there are revelations that change my feelings about him as a villain overall.

I was still annoyed by the way Sanderson reveals backstory.  In book two there is more of the main character reading a book in order to learn backstory that really annoyed me in book one.  I felt like I was really noticing the author's intent to tease the reader with "I know something you don't know" through this, and while I like secrets being slowly revealed, I don't want it to be done in a way that takes me out of the story.

I did begin to realize with this book (and more about this in my review of the final book) how well Sanderson does at tying up loose ends.  And not necessarily even loose ends.  I have to be careful because I don't want to give any book two spoilers, but things that I rolled my eyes about in book one or thought were odd were cleared up in very clever ways in book two.  But more about that later...
Entertainment Value
Again, Sanderson really knows how to tell a story.  I will say that the first half of this book dragged somewhat for me.  I had a much more difficult time getting into the story.  However, the slow pace of the first half of the book is totally worth the absolutely amazing conclusion.  I cannot even describe how excited I was with the last 100 pages. 

This series really builds with the second book and has an absolutely amazing climax.  I highly recommend giving it a try.

Yes - read it!  And don't let the slow start keep you from finishing.  Also, like I mentioned in my review of book one, if you're usually turned off from fantasy by sex, language, or gore, this is a great series to read.  It turns out that Sanderson is Mormon and his books have some violence but are overall very tame for the genre.

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