The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson: Review

Well I made it. I’ve completed my reading of The Well of Ascension before midnight on 31st March as part of the Cosmere Conquest event that I am running this year. It’s a big book but it’s such a piece of work.

Some information about this book!

  • Release date: August 21st 2007 (multiple reprints/editions/new covers)
  • Published by: Gollancz
  • Pages: 781
  • Genre: Epic Fantasy
  • Series: Mistborn (Book #2)


Evil has been defeated . . .
The war has just begun.

deposing the godlike being whose brutal rule had lasted a thousand years. Now Vin, the street urchin who has grown into the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and Elend Venture, the idealistic young nobleman who loves her, must build a healthy new society in the ashes of an empire.

They have barely begun when three separate armies attack. As the siege tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension, or what manner of power it bestows.


The Well of Ascension UK cover

This story continues exactly where it left off. The team have defeated the Lord Ruler and done the impossible. They have freed the people, defeated evil, accomplished unbelievable feats but at what cost does this new freedom come… Well Vin and the team she inherits find that things might not have been as bad as they first thought under their previous oppressor.

“I write these words in steel, for anything not set in metal cannot be trusted.”

I am always apprehensive starting big books because I worry if I will not enjoy them then I am possibly wasting hours that could be used reading something smaller. Also, big books take twice as long as more ‘normal’ sized books and so I’m reading half the books. I needn’t had feared with this book as Brandon delivered another epic into the Mistborn series. I immediately want to say that this book was not quite as good as The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) but I felt that it was more a joining between what had happened in book #1 and what will occur in book #3 (The Hero of Ages). This I can deal with and appreciate.

What Brandon does in this book is really develop the characters. He introduces problems for them all to face, brings in threats from outside (and inside) the crew and makes everyone address these in their own ways. The way the characters grew on me meant I had favourites. I was interested in Vin a lot which was no surprise since she is the star of these books but I also found an interest in OreSeur, Elend, Sazed and even Cett peculiarly enough. It’s one of those stories which breaks up characters by chapters within chapters and I found myself again hoping the large gap coming on the next page was to begin reading about one of my preferred characters.

“It’s easy to believe in something when you win all the time…The losses are what define a man’s faith.”

It’s quite interesting that this book takes place in one city, Luthadel, and you don’t really go out of it because it feels so much bigger. The worldbuilding that Brandon paints isn’t so much worldbuilding in the traditional sense of lands, mountains, oceans and the like but more of people, religions, scope between view points and armies. He creates a large world that you can traverse with your mind without almost actually taking you outside of the city walls.

“Books have great value, actions have greater value.”

The one thing that stood out above all else for me was the Allomancy. The ability to use metals to perform inhuman feats. This was explored well and really helped Vin grow as a character as she found her abilities tested against stronger and bigger foes but using the metals found herself able to win battles she wouldn’t have in the first book. This was a really cool ongoing theme through the story and I liked it a lot. It helped bring the mystery down around the metals and let me into this world while watching my favourite character do really really cool things.

“Unapplied knowledge benefited no one.”

I think that this book is a great sequel to The Final Empire and the ending was brilliant, leaving me wanting more and cutting it off on a really good cliffhanger. If I’m honest, the whole book would needed to have been more dangerous and explosive to beat the first one but it does a great job, a fantastic job even of reaching that very high bar that I have come to expect from a Brandon Sanderson story and I cannot wait for us to read The Hero of Ages in April as part of #CosmereConquest.


Should you wish to join the Cosmere Conquest readalong, click here to join our free discord where you can find full details and spoiler free chats for each book including the Stormlight Archive later this year.

You can add this book to your Goodreads to be read list by clicking here.

Should you want to purchase this book from an independent book supplier, here is a free 5% off code to use at The Broken Binding – BLURB5.

If you like science fiction and fantasy books then consider joining The Oasis Discord here – it’s free and has a great community, buddy reads, community reads and much more!

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