The Well of Ascension is the second book in the Misborn Trilogy, which began with The Final Empire. Out of the trilogy The Well of Ascension is probably the weakest installment. For a little background it begins in the aftermath of the Lord Ruler’s defeat. The protagonist, Vin and her boyfriend Elend Venture are in charge of rebuilding the empire but it is not all smooth sailing. They have three armies to contend with, the most notable of which is lead by Elend’s own father, Straff Venture who is arguably the book’s main antagonist. However the more personal antagonist for Vin is Zane, who is Elend’s half brother and also happens to be mentally unstable.
The plot feels a bit of a step down from that of The Final Empire. While the world is given more scope through exposure to the invading armies, and technically these armies put the kingdom under more direct danger. However through most of the book the antagonists are a step down from the Lord Ruler, with none quite commanding the same presence. The only notable element is the plot surrounding the Well of Ascension, from which the book takes its name, but even that as a whole feels tacked on.
The characters don’t really change from the last book, aside from the side characters getting a bit more development. Elend and Vin are still boring as hell, even with Elend getting his own point of view segments. As mentioned before, the antagonists are equally boring this time, in part because none of them are quite as powerful as the Lord Ruler. However side character Sazed, whose subplot becomes increasingly more important, becomes far more interesting. This in part because of the stuff about him which comes to light during the book, making him much less one dimensional. In fact I would say that he is one of the best characters in the book.
Despite my misgivings the work did pull off some great twists, albeit on a smaller scale. The twist in question being the death of the kandra, OreSeur, whom acts as a mentor of sorts to Vin. The twist here is that kandras are a race of shapeshifters and he is actually replaced by another kandra named TenSoon, whom impersonates him for large portion of the book. The twist of a shapeshifter impersonating a shapeshifter was something I found clever and made me smile a bit.
However as a whole the work feels like its trying to build up to the last book rather than try to build up a story in its own right. In fact the story to the book feels more like filler than anything else, with the Well of Ascension being the end goal. Once Ruin is unleashed, any pretension of the previous events having a lasting impact is thrown right out the window. Overall I feel as though the book didn’t know what it wanted to do, and while it did have its good moments it ultimately felt a little bit lacking.
IN A WORD: POINTLESS