Novella Review: Snapshot

Snapshot
Note: If you like the cover art, Howard Lyon, the artist, has a cool process post and additional pictures here.

Disclaimer: I was a beta reader for this novella. My name is in the acknowledgments. My review may not be entirely unbiased.

From Goodreads:

Snapshot is a Science Fiction detective story following Anthony Davis, a cop assigned to Snapshot Duty. In this vivid world that author Brandon Sanderson has built, society can create a snapshot of a specific day in time. The experiences people have, the paths they follow—all of them are real again for a one day in the snapshot. All for the purposes of investigation by the court.

Davis’s job as a cop on Snapshot Duty is straight forward. Sometimes he is tasked with finding where a criminal dumped a weapon. Sometimes he is tasked with documenting domestic disputes. Simple. Mundane. One day, in between two snapshot assignments, Davis decides to investigate the memory of a call that was mysteriously never logged at the precinct, and he makes a horrifying discovery.

As in all many stories, Snapshot follows a wonderfully flawed character as he attempts to solve a horrific crime. Sanderson proves that no matter the genre, he is one of the most skilled storytellers in the business.

Snapshot is a novella, which means that it’s super short. At least, for the kind of books I like to read, it’s short. According to my Kindle, the whole thing can be read in an hour and a half. I definitely recommend reading works this short in a single sitting, because it really is one cohesive story, one single plot, and you’ll miss details if you take breaks. So if you want to read it, set aside the time to read it all at once, if you can. Also, read the Acknowledgments when you’re done. 🙂

Short doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot here, however. Snapshot is packed full of exciting moments, creepy thrills, and stunning twists. Sanderson is an expert at always keeping you unbalanced, guessing, unsure of what will happen next. There is never a boring moment in the book, and once you pick it up, it’s easy to just keep reading, to want to read just one more chapter, just one more, and suddenly, it’s done.

There are several plot twists here, and Sanderson’s ability to pack them into something this short amazes me. As with many of his books, there are bits that you will figure out ahead of time, but I guarantee there are also events that you won’t see coming. I hate it when, in a book that is about the twist, you can figure out the twists far ahead of time, and have the ending all plotted out in your head before it happens. I was super glad to find that Snapshot defied these expectations, in many ways making it feel like a full Sanderson novel.

The novella is based on a really cool idea, too, as with almost all of Sanderson’s novellas. In Snapshot, we’re asked what would happen if you could recreate a day at will, jump into it, do whatever, and leave again, with no consequences in the real world. Sanderson explores this through the lens of criminal investigations – what would the police do with this technology? It’s a fascinating question, and while his answers are only one possibility out of many, they are very interesting and thought-provoking.

As a side note, the setting is tangentially in the Reckonerverse, but you’ll only recognize this if you’re reading closely, as it’s only really hinted at in one or two paragraphs and is relevant only to the worldbuilding and not really the plot itself. If you are expecting more David and Megan, more Prof and Tia, more bad metaphors and gun nuts, you’ll be disappointed. Well, okay. Not about the gun nut part. But the rest of it. On the flip side, if you’ve never read the Reckoners books, you’re perfectly fine reading this at any time, because it won’t spoil any of that for you! (You really should read them, though.)

For all that, on the surface, Snapshot is a popcorn read, and a fun quick thrill ride, it presented a lot of interesting ideas about morality and reality that I am still pondering, several months after I first read it. When nothing is real, what is it okay to do? What is considered “wrong” in this case? How would you act? While It may not be quite as good at asking deep questions as The Emperor’s Soul was, Snapshot is a really good novella that handles the massive number of things that it is trying to do really well, and I absolutely loved it.

In summary, Snapshot is a quick, fun read, and when you can set aside an hour and a half, or maybe two hours, depending on your reading speed, you really should pick it up and read it all the way through. It is full of plot twists, cool worldbuilding, and somehow also manages to use this worldbuilding to ask some really interesting questions that I’m still not sure if I have an answer to. I give it five of five stars (but I may be slightly biased as a beta reader), and really think you should pick it up soon.

Note: While you can’t really get a physical copy right now (Vault Books is sold out, and the con exclusive is still con exclusive. I believe those’ll be available on Sanderson’s store sometime in November.), you can pick up the e-book for cheap right now at a variety of places.

Sanderson’s page with more info.

Goodreads.

5 Reasons you NEED to read CALAMITY.

This review contains minimal to no spoilers. Read at will! 🙂

CalamityUS Calamity

So, Brandon Sanderson has another book out today. It’s called CALAMITY, and it’s the 3rd and final book in the Reckoners series.

You should read it.

A lot of reviews start with a disclaimer about receiving a free review copy, and still being unbiased. I received a free copy, but there’s no way that I can be unbiased on this book. So instead of a proper review, I’m just going to present a list of 5 reasons you should read this book.

1: It’s a Sanderson.

Sanderson is a flat-out amazing storyteller. Mistborn. Stormlight. The Wheel of Time. His fantasy books stand tall among the field, and for good reason. He writes amazing characters, he writes awesome plots, and his endings are unsurpassed for sheer twisty awesome mind-blowing-ness.

2: It’s the end of the series.

And that means that Sanderson gets to pull out all of the stops. Nobody is safe. Nothing is off-limits. It’s basically awesome, starting at a 7, then cranking up steadily until it hits a 12. And then it gets crazy. No, seriously. Sanderson knows how to finish off a series (If you’ve read the Mistborn Trilogy, you know what I mean), and he does it here in grand style.

3: It’s a superhero novel that deserves to be a movie.

And it would be, in my opinion, above the Marvel movies. The plot holds together better, the powers are, if anything, more awesome and showy, and the emotional and plot moments would translate amazingly well. Everyone seems caught up in the current super-hero craze, and Sanderson is writing some of the best Superhero fiction out there. And Calamity is the best of the series, with a whole new setting of pure indescribable bizarre coolness, complete with a new and old cast with all kinds of insane powers.

4: There’s a romance I ship. Hard.

I’m notoriously hard to convince with romances. As a perpetually single person by choice (others’ choice, not mine), I tend to dislike romances in general, especially when they’re overblown and sappy. Or super tension filled and angsty and just hold the plot back because characters are being stupid. I ship the romance in this series–and this book–so hard it almost hurts. It is PERFECT.

5:

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2015 Favorite Books.

Now that the year 2015 is over, I’m going to talk about the books I enjoyed the most during the year. Not like certain places that have voting for the best books in October or November…

I’ve broken the books down into two categories for 2015’s reading. The first are the books I enjoyed reading more than any other, which were released in 2015. The second category is books that were not released in 2015—or books in series where only the latest book was released, but include the entire series. I realize the division is a little arbitrary, but it’s how the books break down in my mind, so it’s how I’m going to list them here. Also, note that I’m not including rereads here—all of these are books that I read for the first time in 2015, else the list would be pretty much the same (and almost completely Sanderson) every year.

Releases:

5. Gemini Cell.

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I don’t read a ton of SF books, but my 5th place for 2015 is actually a tie between two SF novels. The first, Gemini Cell, is a brilliantly paced, brutal, and exciting military SF/fantasy tale that I absolutely devoured. It’s an excellent starting place for Myke’s universe if you’ve never read any of his books before, so check it out!

5. Time Salvager.

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This was my first Wesley Chu book, which I read because 1) I had it, 2) Chu was nominated for the Campbell Award, and 3) I was going to get to see him twice in 2015 (ArmadilloCon and WorldCon). It earned him my Campbell vote, and is probably my favorite time travel novel. It’s a very dark book, but has beautiful glimmers of hope, and I’m really looking forward to Time Siege next year.

4. The Autumn Republic.

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The concluding volume of Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy, which is a series I’ve been following from the beginning. McClellan has a real talent for battle scenes and rough, gritty fantasy without being grimdark (in my opinion), and it really shines here, when everything is going wrong, and the gods themselves are waging war across the planet. If you’ve not read any of his work, go check out some of his short fiction—it’s an excellent and quick starting point at a good price-point, and will hopefully convince you to pick up Promise of Blood.

3. The Providence of Fire.

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Staveley’s another author I’ve been following since his first book came out—and even before. The Providence of Fire is slightly longer, and perhaps a little slower paced than The Emperor’s Blades, but is also a more satisfying and epic read, and I thoroughly enjoyed how it is unabashedly straight up epic fantasy, done right. I am eagerly anticipating the last volume, out in March.

2. A Darker Shade of Magic.

A Darker Shade final for Irene

After Vicious (see below) was my first read of the year in 2015, I immediately preordered this one, and it is not a decision that I regret. I enjoyed the parallel Londons and the amazing characters that Schwab presents in the book, and how easy, fast, and thrilling the book was to read.

1. Sanderson.

Surprise, surprise, right? Well, Sanderson continued to not disappoint in 2015, with not 1, but 2, absolutely stunning novels full of everything awesome.

1-1. Firefight.

Firefight

As the second volume in a strict trilogy, this one should have been a bit longer, slower, and more boring than the first one. Even in my favorite series, this happens, and I don’t complain.

Someone forgot to give Sanderson the note about that, though, and Firefight was, in my opinion, better than Steelheart, and it has the distinction of being one of two books I read (probably since The Princess Bride, certainly of 2015) where I thoroughly enjoyed and cheered for the romance.

1-2. Shadows of Self.

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Cosmere! Mistborn! Wax and Wayne! Steris! Marasi! [SPOILER]! What isn’t to love? Shadows of Self was easily my favorite book released in 2015, and I can only imagine how entertaining it must have been for the people riding in the car with me while I finished the book on my way to the Sanderson signing. So many amazing, unexpected, surprising, and downright mindblowing moments. If you’ve never picked up a Sanderson book before, I might have to start recommending the Era 2 (1.5?) books as another starting point now.

Other new reads/Authors:

This list is 7 books long because the last 3 spots were more or less a tie—I thoroughly enjoyed all of these books, though they were all quite different, and they all earned their spot on my list.

5. The Goblin Emperor.

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The Goblin Emperor was a book I read last year because it was on the Hugo nominees list—and it is the book that ended up getting my vote. It’s just so much fun and happiness. This book has been described as anti-grimdark, and it fits the label. If you need an uplifting fantasy novel, check this one out!

5. Robin Hobb.

Assassin's Apprentice

I only managed to read Robin Hobb’s first trilogy, The Farseer Trilogy, last year. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and while it’s not flashy, it is still powerful, and her writing has a way of making things compelling, and she puts her characters through intense torture without resorting to tactics such as chopping off hands or other bits. I’m definitely aiming to read more of her books in the coming year, though I don’t know if I’ll have time to catch up to the latest books she’s written or not—but I’ll certainly try!

4. Jaime Lee Moyer.

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Now, this one is a little bit of cheating, since I’m talking about the Delia trilogy, the last book of which, Against a Brightening Sky, came out in October. However, I decided to consider the series as a group, and so I placed it on this list, because the first two books came out before last year. I only managed to review the first book, Delia’s Shadow, before school overwhelmed me and I had to take a break for a few months from blogging, but I read and loved the entire trilogy. Set in an alternate San Francisco, the books fall largely into an alternate history setting. The characters are such good people, the mysteries are intriguing, the magic is exciting, and the endings were exciting, even if they left questions unanswered.

4. Dan Wells.

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This one is also cheating a little bit, since I’m talking about Dan’s John Cleaver books, the latest of which, The Devil’s Only Friend, was released in 2015. Also, the series in ongoing. But… This is my list, so I get to do what I want with it. While I felt the first book got off to a slightly rocky start—it foreshadowed the supernatural elements a little too heavily for my tastes—they ended up being really good, quick, exciting reads, even though horror is not usually my genre of choice.

3. City of Stairs.

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I’ve talked about this one a lot—it was a surprisingly good read, and I am so glad that I made the time to read it. I really enjoyed Shara, and Saypur and the continent, the worldbuilding, the way political issues were handled, and Sigurd. I can’t talk about Sigurd enough… I think the most convincing recommendation I can give for this book is that when I was about 100 pages from the end, and forgot my copy at home, I bought the eBook so I could finish reading it on my phone on the train to work.

2. Vicious.

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I keep talking about how Schwab is one of my new favorite authors from last year, and this is the book that did it for me. My first read of 2015, it set the tone for the rest of the year, and I am so glad to hear that we are going to get a sequel! Seriously fun tale of superheroes and supervillains—and of people. Also, it has a really cool time-line structure that I’ve never seen any other book pull off successfully.

1. Ready Player One.

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I read this book for the first time last spring. Upon finishing the book, I turned it back over and started from the beginning, not even pausing to have something to drink. I don’t think I’ve done that since Harry Potter.

Since then, I’ve listened to the audiobook. And reread the book. So yes, I’ve been through it 4 times last year, something else I’m not sure I’ve done since I was reading Harry Potter, back in the days when I wasn’t in college and had a lot more free time.

This book scratched every itch I didn’t even know I had. Gaming, nerd-dom, geekery, virtual reality goodness, some absolutely awesome characters and twists, as big of an epic battle of good against evil as you can imagine, and the other romance that I cheered for. It was perfect, and in the grand scheme of books I’ve read, the only ones I’ve loved more are the Stormlight Archive.

It’s that good.

I realize that I haven’t posted a review of it yet—that’s because I haven’t figured out how to hack Goodreads to give it 6 stars. (I’m working on it, though.)

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So that was my year in books… What did y’all enjoy reading last year, new or old?

Most Anticipated Books of 2016.

Yes, I’m back to blogging. More on this–hopefully tomorrow, depending on how travel goes. For now, the post.

2016 looks like it’s going to be another amazing year for books. I’ve managed to narrow my list of super most incredibly anticipated books down to 5 (with some wiggling). Before presenting the list, I’m going to note that I’m rather spoiler-phobic, so I haven’t read the blurbs yet for any of the books on this list that I haven’t read—therefore, my anticipation is largely based on series/authors whose work I’ve loved in the past. Authors I trust. Every single one of these books has been pre-ordered for months now, most ordered on the day I discovered they existed. So, without further ado…

5. A Gathering of Shadows.

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V.E. Schwab is one of my new additions to my favorite authors list. I read Vicious as my first book of 2015, and it was awesome. I read A Darker Shade of Magic as soon as I could get my hands on a copy, and I loved it even more. A Gathering of Shadows continues the series that A Darker Shade of Magic started, and I am super excited to get back to the world of the multiple Londons and all the amazing characters—Rhy, Kell, and Lila–who inhabit it!

4. City of Blades.

CityOfBlades

City of Stairs was my most unanticipated love of 2015, and Robert Jackson Bennett is the other new addition to my favorite authors list I made last year. I actually got a chance to read this one this week, thanks to Patrick McQuoid, and it is a worthy successor to the first book. If you haven’t read City of Stairs, you really need to remedy that—it’s fast paced, has a really varied and unique cast, some really cool worldbuilding of a flavor I’ve never seen before, and Sigrud. You need Sigrud in your life.

3. Solutions and Other Problems.

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This one’s a little strange—everything else on my list is a fantasy novel of some sort. Allie Brosh’s books are part stick-figures-of-awesome comic book, part memoir, part fantastical stories, and complete and utter side-splitting hilarity, while sometimes delving into deep and important topics, such as depression. If you have not read her blog… Why are you reading mine? Hers is infinitely more awesome, GO READ IT.

2. The Last Mortal Bond.

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If you don’t want to order it just for that Richard Anderson cover… You need to go check out the first book in the trilogy, The Emperor’s Blades. The Last Mortal Bond finishes out the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy, and it promises to be an awesome adventure. Brian has said that the book will be considerably longer than The Providence of Fire, which I believe puts him firmly in the epic category. There were so many plot threads left up in the air, so many world-shaking events in progress, so much tension left at the end of the second book… GIVE IT TO ME ALREADY!

1. Sanderson.

Yes, okay. This is cheating. This is 3 books in 1, but without it, it would take up 3/5 of my list.

You probably know by now that Sanderson is my favorite author ever. (If you don’t go look at this.) I more or less worship him, and getting to go out to dinner with him was the highlight of my year.

1-1. The Bands of Mourning.

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I’ve read this one. It is everything it is promised to be, and more. All the best characters from this era of books, all of them being awesome. Plus, boatloads of Cosmere, one heck of an awesome plot, and some brilliantly funny moments. I cannot wait to see this one out in the world.

1-2. Calamity.

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Yes, I’ve read this one too. I was truly blessed with e-ARCs last year (I’m still looking for physical ARCs, so if you know how to get ahold of those, let me know.). It’s the end of a trilogy, the last book Sanderson is planning to set in this world (for a while, at least), and it’s named Calamity. What more could you ask for? It delivers on every promise, and there’s one sentence that I would pay to sit down and watch people’s reactions as they read it. SO GOOD.

1-3. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians: Book 5: The Dark Talent.

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I haven’t read this one. It’s going to be shorter, but it’s another series ender for Sanderson, and one that I’ve been anticipating for a long, long time. Alcatraz was the only series that could make me laugh when I was depressed a few years ago, and they’ve always held a special place in my heart. I am super excited to see what happens in the last book, and it looks like it’s going to be beautifully illustrated as well! (I’m anticipating the re-releases of the entire series quite avidly.)

Well, that’s my list for 2016. What are you looking forward to reading?

Thank You, Brandon Sanderson

Today is the official 10th anniversary of the publication of Brandon Sanderson’s first novel, Elantris. Brandon is my favorite author, and I’ve written a short post about why, and phrased it as a thank-you note for Brandon. Here it is:

Thank you, Brandon Sanderson.

Thank you for writing such brilliant, mind-bending twisty endings that always make me gasp. Thank you for such well-defined magic systems that make me feel as if I could almost use them myself and always get my imagination going at full speed.

Thank you for writing such beautiful books, and ensuring that they are in such beautiful packages. Thank you for fighting for the cover art that the books deserve until they have it, and never compromising on this quality.

Thank you for writing so quickly that I’m always anticipating the next four novels you have out within a year, and even though you have a ridiculous number of simultaneous series going, I’m never waiting too long for the next installment.

Thank you for making your writing knowledge available to aspiring writers like me, through your podcasts and classes. Thank you for telling me, every week, that I’m out of excuses and I should go write.

Thank you for caring about me and the rest of your fans. Thank you for taking the time to sign all of our books, even when we have dozens of them, and to answer all of our questions, even if half of them are RAFOs. Thank you for not forgetting that you were a fan once, and knowing who we are and how to treat us right.

Thank you for helping me complete my collection with your generosity, even when it went way beyond what I expected of you.

Thank you for making my laugh with the Alcatraz series when nothing else could make me smile.

Thank you for writing such a massive variety of characters, not only physically, but also mentally. Thank you for writing so many odd little characters with mental disabilities that I can connect with.

Thank you for finishing my favorite series of all time, and finishing it right.

Thank you for 10 amazing years of books, and here’s to many, many more.

Thank you, Brandon Sanderson.

Book Review: The Hero of Ages

WARNING: THIS IS THE THIRD BOOK IN THE MISTBORN TRILOGY. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST ONE, GO CHECK OUT MY REVIEW AND READ IT. THIS REVIEW–AND THE SUMMARY–CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Hero of Ages

From Goodreads:

Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world.This adventure brings the Mistborn epic fantasy trilogy to a dramatic and surprising climax as Sanderson’s saga offers complex characters and a compelling plot, asking hard questions about loyalty, faith and responsibility.

I usually think of Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, concluded in The Hero of Ages (HoA), as a single unit, split into three parts, much like Lord of the Rings. This is, I think, partly because of how Sanderson wrote the books, all back-to-back, and had therefore finished the first draft of HoA before The Final Empire went off for copyedits, and so he was able to tweak thematic things to make them fit and flow through all three books. And they flow quite well. The overarching story is nicely continuous, and built up magnificently.

That’s not to say that HoA picks up exactly where Well of Ascension left off. Rather, it starts with a bang, throwing the reader into new and exciting mysteries, and answering questions much more quickly than you would have thought. Sanderson does not save all of his secrets for the big finish, and HoA is an exciting book throughout. If you found Well of Ascension a little boring, do not fear, HoA remedies that and more. The set-up in the first two books begins to pay off in droves, and it is glorious.

It also starts off with the excellent epigraph, “I am, unfortunately, the Hero of Ages.” Remember that as you read it. (If you’ve already read it, I’m sorry—kinda—for doing that to you.)

Sanderson does not give everything away just to keep the book going, though. He saves his best tricks for the end. And what an end it is. The first two books really were just warm-up exercises, all set-up for the climax of HoA. The battles are epic on a scale rarely seen, the stakes are incredible, and the twists are marvelous. And then, just when you think it’s over, Sanderson gives you an epilogue that will make you tear up. Guaranteed, no matter how little you usually tear up at books. If you get even slightly emotional at the end of books, have chocolate and/or ice cream ready. Probably best to have a box of tissues and a friend as well. (If none are available in person, poke me or Nikki on Twitter, and we’ll assemble a support group for you. It may be wise to do this even before you reach the ending.)

I think he can manage this, in large part, because of the characters to whom we have become so deeply connected over the series. Elend and Vin, now married and fully-powered Mistborn, make an excellent kick-butt couple. Vin, in particular, has come so far from the little street urchin who doesn’t trust anyone, and I love how her journey continues here.

Sazed’s quest continues, and it is, in my opinion, the best character arc in the series. Sanderson is a deeply religious man, but that does not show in the slightest in his writing. Sazed’s belief, or lack thereof, is pulled off so convincingly, that it makes me question what it really means to believe, every time I read through the trilogy.

Spook’s arc also has a fitting conclusion, one I feel is fully justified and deserved, given how the other characters have treated him throughout the series. I feel perhaps most like him—shunted to the side, used as an errand boy, and always, always, wanting to do more to help. I do not, in any way, blame him for anything that happens.

Ruin. Ruin is the perfect villain. Simultaneously nebulous and concrete, yet utterly nefarious and evil, Ruin plays his cards so brilliantly that I’m not even disappointed that, at the end of Well of Ascension, we learn that our characters have been doing what he wanted/expected all along. Plots like this usually annoy me, but Ruin is just so… Disgusting and excellent that I have no problems with it here.

In summary, the capstone to Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy is a brilliant, feels-inducing, climax that ties up all the right threads and gives us satisfying—if unexpected—conclusions for all of our beloved characters, complete with an epic Sanderson Avalanche. Thought of as a single unit, the Mistborn Trilogy is one of my favorites of all time, and as Hero of Ages is, I feel, the best in the trilogy, I give it Five of Five stars without blinking. Go. Get it. Read it. You’ll thank me when you’re done crying.

Brandon Sanderson.

Goodreads.

Amazon.

Book Review: The Well of Ascension

WARNING: THIS IS THE SECOND BOOK IN THE MISTBORN TRILOGY. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST ONE, GO CHECK OUT MY REVIEW AND READ IT. THIS REVIEW–AND THE SUMMARY–CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Well of Ascension

From Goodreads:

The impossible has been accomplished. The Lord Ruler – the man who claimed to be god incarnate and brutally ruled the world for a thousand years – has been vanquished. But Kelsier, the hero who masterminded that triumph, is dead too, and now the awesome task of building a new world has been left to his young protégé, Vin, the former street urchin who is now the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and to the idealistic young nobleman she loves.

As Kelsier’s protégé and slayer of the Lord Ruler she is now venerated by a budding new religion, a distinction that makes her intensely uncomfortable. Even more worrying, the mists have begun behaving strangely since the Lord Ruler died, and seem to harbor a strange vaporous entity that haunts her.

Stopping assassins may keep Vin’s Mistborn skills sharp, but it’s the least of her problems. Luthadel, the largest city of the former empire, doesn’t run itself, and Vin and the other members of Kelsier’s crew, who lead the revolution, must learn a whole new set of practical and political skills to help. It certainly won’t get easier with three armies – one of them composed of ferocious giants – now vying to conquer the city, and no sign of the Lord Ruler’s hidden cache of atium, the rarest and most powerful allomantic metal.

As the siege of Luthadel 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.

Mistborn: The Final Empire, was everything the first book in a trilogy should be. It had all the action, intrigue, and cool characters it needed to get me booked on the series. The emotional beats were great, and it demanded that I read Well of Ascension immediately.

Well of Ascension caught me off guard a little bit, though. It’s not the same book that Mistborn was. Sanderson took a dangerous route by changing up the plot structure, and though the world itself still has the same dark atmospheric feeling, the book itself feels very different from the first.

As expected, Sanderson managed to pull this off with aplomb, crafting yet another thrilling tale.

While Mistborn was a tale of thieves trying to overthrow an empire, a tale of the dark alley ways and shadowy places of Luthadel, Well of Ascension is a political novel and a war novel. With the Lord Ruler and Kelsier gone (I did warn you about spoilers…), and funds running low, the remainder of the thieving crew must try their hand at running an empire, a task that is proving even more difficult than overthrowing it.

An old villain comes into new prominence, and he’s very nasty. Straff Venture, Elend’s father, is one of the generals who is leading an army against Luthadel, trying to claim the city—and the empire—as his own. But he’s not alone. Others want the city too, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it. The impending armies give the book its main sense of drive, and for the most part, they’re enough to keep it going.

Elend is forced to play the part of king, and the novel delves deeply into what this really means, and what the politics of the Final Empire might really look like. I must admit that I found this element of the pacing slow at times, and these were some of the least enjoyable sections of the book.

The rest of the book more than made up for it, though. Vin, growing every more confident in herself and her powers, is up to her usual mistborn antics, and there are plenty of nerve-wracking fight scenes, including two of particular note. The first is still one of the bloodiest, most revolting massacres ever, and I love it for both the visual aspect and the impact it has on me—and the characters—every time. The other, well. Let’s just say it involves Vin, a lot of iron, and a very large sword, and ranks in the top five scenes that I want to see on the big screen. Heck. I’d pay for an entire movie just to see that one scene.

But that’s not to say that the awesomeness is limited to our favorite mistborn. The whole crew from the first book is here, and there are plenty of new additions. The old characters gain new depth—in particular, Sazed continues to develop into one of the best written non-religious (or poly-religious, I’m not sure) characters I’ve ever read, and I truly admire Sanderson’s ability to write viewpoints he disagrees with so very, very well. Everyone gets their own scenes in which to shine, and the variety of the cast makes it an entertaining book.

My favorite character, perhaps because his situation is the most relatable, and because I can understand why he takes every action that he does, is Spook.

And, as you saw in Mistborn, nobody is safe. The feels that Sanderson unleashed on page 573 of Mistborn (Kelsier. Yes, I have the MMPB page number memorized. 588 in the YA TPB edition.) are a good indicator of what is to come. With a whole host of armies sitting around, all of whom want the same thing, you really can’t expect everyone to survive. Have the chocolate ready, especially as you approach the end.

And what an ending it is. While Well of Ascension is the middle book of the trilogy, and almost by necessity, is a little slower than the other two, the ending is still a completely amazing piece of work, and the number of twists and surprises that Sanderson pulls really make it utterly thrilling. And it’s not over until the last page. The last time I saw someone read this book, she went from amazed to horrified, to swearing she would never read Sanderson again to crying from happiness, to demanding Hero of Ages immediately, all in about 10 minutes. This is a fairly typical reaction.

In summary, The Well of Ascension, the second book in the Mistborn trilogy, is another triumph for Sanderson, and while it feels slow at times, it has some of my favorite scenes ever, and adds depth to pretty much every character in the series, all the while raising the stakes constantly and building towards a surprising, twisting ending that will leave you demanding the third book as soon as you can get your hands on it. Five of Five stars.

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