Friday, May 08, 2015

Review: The Well of Ascension

The Well of Ascension is the sequel to Mistborn, and is the middle book of the Mistborn trilogy. Middle books are typically the weakest volume of any trilogy, and unfortunately, Sanderson's trilogy is no exception.

While the action sequences are still well-written, the book suffers from fantasy-level-up-escalation, carried to the extremes, as the main character, Vin grows in power, and as a result, the rest of the threats have to scale up as well. This would be OK if the other characters on her team grows in power as well, but they don't, so you're treated to increasingly lopsided situations that could be mistaken for the typical Mary Sue fantasy.

The unfortunate thing is that Sanderson's ability to do character development seems to be limited to depicting characters agonizing about dilemmas that in no way feel real (i.e., the reader has so much information that he knows what the right choices are, and in no way feels like the characters will do anything but). Worse, some long running supporting characters are killed off in cheap fashion that do not serve the plot in any way.

Finally, the ultimate reveal sucks: not only was the reader misled in every way, the entire state of the world is left dangling and obviously hanging for the final book in the trilogy. In some ways, this is some of the worst sins of writing a fantasy series: an entire book in which nothing substantial happens, and you could easily have skipped an entire book and gone on with the series without missing much. While this book isn't as abusive of readers as A Dance With Dragons or A Feast For Crows, Sanderson's not doing anyone any favors with this novel. I'm debating between plowing ahead and finishing the series for the sake of completion or abandoning Sanderson permanently altogether.

Not recommended.
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