Friday, May 17, 2019

Review: THE WELL OF ASCENSION by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 5/5 stars

After rereading Mistborn, I knew I wanted to reread The Well of Ascension as well because I remember this installment being my favorite of the trilogy despite not remembering much of what happened in the book except the ending.

Basically, the whole plot can be summed up thus: the siege. The siege at Luthadel constituted about ninety percent of the plot, obviously with many subplots and politics occurring.

This book is very political. Much of it is about how to handle the city now that Elend is its king, how to create a fair government, how to deal with three invading armies, how to grow and develop into a leader, how to trust those around you, etc.

I love the character development we get to see in this book. Elend goes through some obvious maturing thanks to Tindwyl. Vin has to learn what friends are and what trust is and what love is. I can even see changes in the minor characters as they are confronted with the siege and all the issues they are battling in Luthadel. No character has such a vast arc as Sazed, however. 

Sazed goes through a vast journey of doubt and reflection in The Hero of Ages, and you can see the instances in this book that caused him to reach that low place. SPOILERS AHEAD: [The initial seeds were planted when Sazed visited the warehouse and had no religions to offer the woman who had already lost five children and was soon going to lose her last child. He realized there was nothing left to rebel against by preaching religions long dead, so he started to wonder what good they were anymore.
He then went a long time without preaching any religions until he told Clubs about the religion of Dadradah and gave him a wooden token of that sect. Then the black hole of doubt formed when Sazed saw Clubs lying dead in the snow, the wooden talisman still around his neck. “It hasn’t helped,” Sazed had said.
Then, to top it all off, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s body and he realizes that none of the religions gave him comfort during this time or helped to save those who he had lost. “My life,“ thought Sazed, “has been a sham.” Losing the woman he loved was the true catalyst for his journey of self-discovery that we see in the next book.
And finally, at the end, Sazed returns to the Conventical of Seran and reads the true inscription on the wall and realizes he has been tricked all along by the changed words of the recording. “It was the final blow, the last strike that killed whatever was left of his faith,” we read.]
Sazed’s trial and internal conflict is one of my favorite character arcs of growth and reflection in any book I’ve read. It’s so raw and honest.

Like I did with the first book, I am including here all the instances of foreshadowing I noticed while reading. This section is full of HUGE SPOILERS:
[—The first line of the book: “I write these words in steel, for anything not set in metal cannot be trusted.” Hm, that doesn’t foreshadow like half the plot of this book or anything. . . .
—Elend saying, “Do you honestly think that a Terriswoman would try to kill me?”
—Ham jokes that Cett kicked out Breeze because he was found with Cett’s daughter. Little did we know . . .
—“Kandra can’t kill humans.” But it didn’t say anything about them being allowed to kill animals or other kandra. This is more reading between the lines than foreshadowing.
—Zane tells Elend, “You are, after all, his only son.” But Zane is also Straff’s son. Not necessarily foreshadowing but definitely a hint of the reveal during my reread.
—Zane hearing “God’s” voice telling him to kill just about everyone he meets. An intuitive reader would be able to piece together that the only characters hearing voices in their minds are those with bits of metal piercing their skin.
—Dockson saying about the idea of koloss attacking Luthadel: “I say we worry about that when, and if, they arrive.” Oh they will arrive, no ifs about it.
—In the logbook, Kwaan mentions that the Hero of Ages will have a birthmark on his arm. I do not remember if this turns out to be true or not but it is still interesting noting this specific detail that was easily overlooked during my first readthrough.
—Vin saying, “Maybe Zane isn’t fully under Straff’s control,” because we later find out that Ruin is controlling him too, or at least influencing him.
—Vin outright claims that “the Hero of Ages will have to come again.” Hm, I wonder what’s going to happen in book three.
—When Breeze is soothing Sazed and Tindwyl in the warehouse, he makes some observations that foreshadow them falling in love later.
—Elend thinks about the Koloss, “Whatever is in those pouches, could it be the way Jastes controls the creatures?” Indeed, it could be. This is some of the more obvious foreshadowing because the text tells you outright that this is true even before you know what’s in the pouches.
—The koloss say, “We are humans.” We still don’t know about Hemalurgy at this point in the series but it has been referenced so many times in passing.
—Zane telling us about the spike through his chest also foreshadows Hemalurgy.
—Tindwyl tells Sazed, “The Hero of Ages won’t be Terris.” Hehehe, just you wait.
—Sazed states, “Religions are often very careful with their writings.”
—Zane comments that “God” (AKA Ruin) never told him to kill Vin, and “God” says, “Of course I didn’t tell you to kill her” because he knew that Vin would be the one to release him from the Well, so she’d need to stay alive.
—Ham says, “Maybe Kell is out there somewhere, watching over us.” This foreshadows Mistborn: Secret History.
—“The longer they traveled [to Terris], the weaker the thumpings seemed” foreshadows that the Well is actually back in Luthadel instead of in Terris.]

I love this book and this whole series and I’m so glad to be rereading it to refresh my mind with all the details I had forgotten. I highly recommend this series to any fantasy lovers out there.
“Do not dismiss someone’s beliefs because you do not understand them.”

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