Monday, March 21, 2011

The Well of Ascension, by Brandon Sanderson

The Well of Ascension, by Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson has written another winner. The Lord Ruler has been defeated, but without a single unifying emperor, the world is devolving into petty political factions and war. Allomancy, the use of metals to grant magical powers, is expanded, with new alloys and powers being discovered. The plot centers around the battle for Luthadel, but the politics are largely black and white: either benevolent and socialistic or dominant and selfish. This weakness is minor, though, as the characters themselves are richly developed with multiple motivations. The ending was telegraphed, but knowing this was the second book of a trilogy and seeing the signs through the eyes of the characters only ramped the tension. A well-written and exciting plot, but even more interesting is the underlying exploration of what love is.

Several of the characters experience doubts in their spouse or themselves, and others are falling in love for the first time. Their discussions and explanations to each other show the various sides of the emotion, and by varying points-of-view we see relationships from all different angles. “Love must be allowed to flow both ways—if it is not, then it is not truly love.” Quite insightful for a mass-market fantasy novel.

First Sentence:
The army crept like a dark stain across the horizon.

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