I loved The Final Empire so I had to continue the Mistborn series with The Well of Ascension! Some spoilers are below, but I kept major plot moments out of this review.
After defeating the Lord Ruler and his Empire, Vin and Kelsier’s remaining crew members struggle to control the realm. Elend Venture has a tentative grasp as King of Luthadel, but his throne is challenged by three separate armies who all want to take over the city. The legend of the Well of Ascension offers hope, but no one is sure where to find this power. With danger in every corner, the crew must rely on each other to survive the siege.
The Well of Ascension went much deeper into Sanderson's fantasy world and I was happy with all the new developments. Vin became even more of a badass with her Allomantic skills, the crew learned about more the threats facing them, and the physical world around them became darker and harder to survive as ash fell more and more.
In The Final Empire, there was a brief period of time where I wondered if Sazed was a spy because he was always so pleasant and helpful. Obviously that wasn't the case at all, and I ended up liking him a lot more in this book, to the point where he was pretty much my favorite by the end. The best relationship in this novel, though, was that of Vin and Ore Seur. They went from mutual hatred, to mutual acceptance, and then to mutual respect with a little bit of a man’s best friend thing going on. I loved it. I was not at all expecting the twist with Ore Seur at the end - my feels exploded all over the place when that happened. (Clubs with his little disk from Sazed also gave me the feels in a major way.)
I enjoyed how this book focused more on politics and the characters trying to figure out the Lord Ruler's history. His motives created a whole new layer to the story that made the problems facing Vin's crew even more challenging. The intensity was upped. The battles and fight scenes were cooler. The stakes were higher. Even the mists changed!
A few things made this book my least favorite in the trilogy, though. (As I write this, I've already read the third one.) First, I initially loved Zane’s character. His dynamic with Vin at the beginning was really intriguing, but he became the predictable bad guy toward the end of the novel and then was suddenly gone. I wanted more and didn't get it.
Secondly, I loved Elend and Vin as a team but they had much less chemistry here. The puppy love in The Final Empire was believable, but in The Well of Ascension I sometimes forgot they were supposed to be an item - even as Vin worried about her love life constantly, I kept forgetting! It felt like they had more of a “family” relationship than a romantic one. I respect that Sanderson chose to leave out sex scenes - good fantasy writing is not dependent on sex - but I needed passion between the two. This was partially why I liked Zane so much at the beginning; I wanted to see what might happen if Vin played both sides, if only to spice things up.
And thirdly, the middle section of the book was a bit slow with all the political discussions, and the events at the end left me dangling with questions. Elend's sudden "gift" especially blindsided me. So, overall, the pacing in this one could've been improved, but I will say that wasn't a problem with the first and third books.
The Well of Ascension was not quite as perfect as its predecessor, but it was a great sequel that left me excited to finish the series and see how Sanderson tied up the story. This one gets 3.5 out of 5 stars from me, but don't let that deter you. This is a must-read series for any fantasy lover.