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The Well of Ascension

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<The Well of Ascension>
Mistborn 2.jpg
by Chris McGrath
Mistborn trilogy
Follows Mistborn: The Final Empire
Precedes The Hero of Ages
Setting Scadrial, Cosmere
Released August 21, 2007[1]
Publisher Tor Books
ISBN 978-0-7653-1688-2
Annotations Portal

The Well of Ascension is the second volume of the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. It is preceded by The Final Empire and followed by The Hero of Ages. The book follows the remaining members of Kelsier's crew as they try to bring stability to Luthadel and the rest of the Final Empire in the chaos following the death of The Lord Ruler. Faced with armies laying seige to the city outside the walls, political factions and unrest among the newly-freed skaa within, and a new, sinister change in behaviour from the mists themselves, Vin, and the rest of the crew, along with the newly crowned King Elend Venture, must find a way to protect the fledgling empire they have created.

Cover Synopsis[edit]

Evil has been defeated.

The war has just begun.

They did the impossible, 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 seige 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.

It may just be that killing the Lord Ruler was the easy part. Surviving the aftermath of his fall is going to be the real challenge.

Plot Summary[edit]

Almost a year has passed since the revolution that deposed the Lord Ruler. Elend Venture has transformed the ancient empire's capital city into a democratic kingdom over which he presides. Elend's own father, Straff Venture has brought an army from the north to take control of the city, but the arrival of another army led out of the west by Ashweather Cett — tricked into coming by Breeze forces the city into an extended seige. Elend and the crew decide to play a dangerous game, trying to incite the two armies to attack one another by convincing each that Luthadel will ally with them in the battle. The later arrival of a third, even more dangerous army of koloss led by Elend's once-friend Jastes Lekal strains the tensions in the city even farther. In addition to this, Vin and Elend find that a kandra—most likely sent by one of the armies—has killed and replaced someone within the walls, though they have no idea who it might be.

Within the city, Elend's new Assembly is quickly getting out of hand as political factions among the nobility, merchants, and working skaa members each vie for their own solutions to the problems of the armies, in most cases, a call for surrender to Straff or Cett and a wish for things to go back to the way they were before the Collapse. Elend's lack of training in leadership allows the Assembly members to dismiss him, and his preoccupation with other issues forces his attention away from keeping them in line. Under the tutelage of a Terriswoman Keeper named Tindwyl, Elend starts to become the king his people need. However, not quite quickly enough, for the Assembly deposes him and chooses Ferson Penrod as king instead.

Meanwhile, Vin struggles with trying to protect Elend from the growing threats against him and his kingdom, while facing personal issues of doubt and insecurity over who she is. The contract of OreSeur has passed to her with Kelsier's death, and while she dislikes the kandra greatly and has him wear the body of a wolfhound instead of a human, they grudgingly learn to work together. In her nights out in the mists, she begins encountering someone whom she names "The Watcher." She later learns that he is Zane, Elend's half-brother by one of Straff's mistresses and a mistborn of great skill. She does not trust him or his intentions, but she is intrigued by the possibility he offers: a relationship with someone who could understand who she is in a way Elend cannot.

Outside of Luthadel, Sazed travels the land, trying to teach the skaa the knowledge he has carried for a time such as this, though he is disheartened by their apathy for it. Marsh finds him and the two travel to the Conventical of Seran, an abandoned Inquisitor stronghold. There, Sazed finds a large metal plaque written in ancient Terris and takes a rubbing of it to study. Concerned with the importance of this work, Sazed decides to return to Luthadel to work on the project, though on the way Marsh mysteriously disappears one night, and he begins encountering skaa who tell of the mists coming in the daytime and killing people.

Sazed's tales of mists that kill corroborate feelings that Vin has begun having that the mists are no longer her friend. She has begun seeing a figure made from mists, whom she calls "the mist spirit," out in the night. She has also started hearing a strange, powerful thumping like an allomantic pulse that she cannot explain. Sazed and Tindwyl begin working on translating and understanding the rubbing, an ancient message from a Terrisman named Kwaan. (Quotations from this message provide the epigraphs for the entire book.) The two Keepers work to cross reference the rubbing with other texts they have, attempting to understand the prophecies concerning the Hero of Ages and the Well of Ascension. Sazed and Vin come to the same conclusion: they believe she may be the Hero of Ages.

Vin's conflict of interest with Zane comes to a head as he convinces her to attack the keep within the city where Cett is camped with him, a devastating act of slaughter. Vin keeps herself from killing Cett at the last moment, but with his forces hit so hard and his gambit for the throne failed, he pulls out of the city and his army retreats. Zane attempts to convince Vin to run away with him, but she decides to choose Elend over him, causing him to attack her in fury. He reveals that the enemy kandra named TenSoon was his, and that he has been impersonating OreSeur from the beginning. However, over the course of his time spying on her, TenSoon has come to be loyal to Vin and betrays Zane and his contract to help her instead. Vin wins the fight, using her ability to control TenSoon with emotional allomancy and the exploitation of a weakness in atium, and manages to kill Zane. She then runs to Elend and tells him everything that has happened and the two are married by Sazed that night.

Now convinced that she is the Hero and that it is her duty to release the power at the Well of Ascension, Vin heads north with Elend and Spook to Terris, the historical location of the Well. However, as they get farther from Luthadel, the thumpings in Vin's head grow fainter. They are convinced to turn back, but as they do, they discover Jastes Lekal and a few of his attendants following them. Elend realizes that Jastes has left the koloss to attack Luthadel after he lost his means of controlling him. For this, Elend executes him. Now convinced that the Well is in Luthadel and that the city is about to fall, the three make for the city with all speed; Vin traveling ahead with allomancy, Spook and Elend following farther behind.

Not long after they leave, Straff pulls his army back from the walls, allowing the koloss to take the city in a bloodrage and hoping to bring his army back to "save" Luthadel at the last moment. Tindwyl, Dockson, and Clubs are killed in the battle. Vin manages to make it back and figures out how to control the koloss using the same trick that she used on TenSoon; a duralumin-enhanced burst of emotional allomancy. Cett returns with his army, persuaded by his daughter Allrianne to come to Luthadel's aid. Straff returns with his army as well, to "liberate" the city. Vin kills Straff as soon as he arrives, and then forces his second-in-command Janarle, King Penrod, and Cett to all swear fealty to Elend as emperor.

When Elend returns, he and Vin find the Well of Ascension hidden underneath Kredik Shaw. As they go, Sazed is confronted by the mist spirit, who convinces him that something is wrong and that he needs to try to stop Vin from taking the power—though he is not sure what the problem is. He finds Marsh guarding the entrance to the Well now, and Marsh attacks him to keep him from interfering. The mist spirit then appears in the chamber with the Well and stabs Elend. Vin enters the Well, intending to use its power to heal Elend, but the voice she hears convinces her to follow the instructions of the prophecies and give the power up instead. Convinced that she is doing the right thing, she releases the power, freeing Ruin from his prison. Afterwards, the mist spirit gives her a bead of lerasium and shows her how to use it to turn Elend into a mistborn and save his life.

Finally, Sazed returns to the Conventical of Seran confirming his suspicions: Ruin changed the words of the prophecy and the rubbing to trick Vin into releasing him.

Main Characters[edit]

Vin 
She struggles with her love of Elend whilst she protects him from enemy Allomancers, fighting with Zane until finally choosing to believe she is the Hero of Ages, she finds the Well of Ascension and lets the powers contained there dissipate, releasing Ruin.
Elend 
He attempts to rule his new kingdom fairly, by the constitution he created. He is eventually deposed.
Sazed 
Spends his time deciphering Kwaan's inscription, to later discover that Ruin was altering it. Falls in love with Tindwyl.
Tindwyl 
Also a Keeper. Her specialty of study is leadership. She comes to Luthadel at Sazed's request to train Elend to be a king. After Elend is deposed, she devotes her time to deciphering Kwaan's inscription with Sazed.
Zane 
A Mistborn sent from one of the other armies. Later it is revealed that Straff Venture sent him, and that he is actually Straff's son.
Straff Venture 
Elend's father, king of the northern dominance and leader of the first army to arrive at Luthadel.
Ashweather Cett 
King of the western dominance and leader of the second army to arrive at Luthadel.

Notes[edit]

  1. Release announcement
    Brandon's website - 2007-08-21
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