Ever wondered what happens after the good guys win? The Well of Ascension, the second in the Mistborn trilogy, takes us back to Luthadel one year after the fall of the Final Empire to find out. While the tyranny of the Lord Ruler has been thrown off, its fledgling government (now headed by King Elend Venture) is finding that transition has its own set of problems. Aside from meeting the needs of a population whose entire society has been thrown into chaos, rival factions both within and without the city quite fancy having themselves in charge. Which is how Luthadel finds itself under siege with two rival monarchs camped on their doorstep and a third, backed by a Koloss army, not far behind.
While still really, really good, The Well of Ascension is a very different book to its predecessor with a very different pace. Instead of the gleeful exuberance of Kelsier, this is filled with Vin's insecurities. Instead of planning audacious heists, our characters are pondering the problems of holding onto political power. In the place of victories are people struggling to make the right choices. And while the action still crackles, its sidelined by Vin's relationship problems and struggle to understand who she is. We say goodbye to a few of the crew this time around, but these were robbed of potential punch by the fact that they were those that clearly had nothing left to do and, while I did enjoy the new characters (particularly Allriane), I didn't buy the love triangle that Zane brought with him at all.
Still, there's not many fantasy trilogies where you can enter the last book with no idea whatsoever of what it may hold, and the above are all minor quibbles in a book that still held me captive until the last page.