Finished at last! I am going to give The Well of Ascension 4 stars because Vin is the best fantasy heroine you will find. That girl can kick ass. I absolutely love her-and would be on my best behavior around Vin! Without her, this book would be forgettable. This book covers the siege of Luthadel by 3 armies about a year after the Lord Ruler met Vin and was dealt with severely. But fer cryin’ out loud, almost 800 pages? Really? You get unending political hijinx and negotiations for the first 650 pages before the action starts. A lot of repetition from the first book clogs up the start. Look, you can’t read this as a standalone so why waste time covering all that went before. And, if you are going to write this much, at least get some action in every once in awhile. When the battle begins, it is short and compact, although his battles are vivid. At the end of the book, you find out that there was something big going on elsewhere in the Final Empire during the same period. But there is no hint of this until the end. Why not have multiple story lines going on? A number of times I was just frustrated that it was taking so long to get through the setup. The last 150 pages are packed with action.
My complaints from the first book continue here. Serious word bloat yet he does write well and it is not hard to read, just long. Also, the main justification of the protagonists’ actions is “to free the skaa”, the underclass, virtually slaves, of the old empire. But I never felt sympathetic to this group, they are simply there and seldom become part of the action (except to be slaughtered in various attacks). They are just passive as compared to the “nobility” which used to exploit them and continue to be the main actors. Vin came from the skaa but she feels so much brighter when she is masquerading as a noblewoman.
There are elements of Terry Goodkind’s hero, Richard, present in Vin. She is a throwback to the power of the old “Mistborn”, so much more powerful than any contemporary one, just as Richard is a throwback to the old wizards. The misunderstandings between Vin and her kingly lover Elend reminded me of the Richard/Kahlan relationship. Also, the gang in the Mistborn series is much like Locke Lamora’s Gentlemen Bastards gang of thieves with good hearts. And, just like Scott Lynch, Mr. Sanderson is more than willing to kill off a main character or two. Don’t get too attached to some of the characters in this book, they may not last.
I am glad to be on to the next and final book of the trilogy at last. Mr Sanderson certainly has not found a way to make the 2nd book in a trilogy stand on it’s own merits. A good, not great, book.