Unfortunately, The Well of Ascension didn't do it for me. Not at all, truth to tell. Indeed, for some reason it failed on basically every level to interest me. If this had been a book by anyone but Brandon Sanderson, I would have quit long before the end.
I really like Brandon. He's one of the nicest guys around in the genre, a class act and always accessible. I enjoyed both Elantris and Mistborn: The Final Empire, and I was truly looking forward to reading The Well of Ascension. In a way, I feel a bit bad about having to write such a negative review concerning the work of an author I respect. And yet, I have to be honest if I'm to maintain any semblance of integrity. Having said that, I'm glad there are some very positive reviews out there, which demonstrates that many people found it to their liking. I wish I could claim the same. . .
On the upside, once again I found the magical system to be the most fascinating aspect of this novel. We learn a bit more about it, and it's evident that Sanderson created something special. The action scenes are as cool as in the first volume, though they don't have the same sort of impact the second time around. The worldbuilding is interesting, yet I would have loved to learn more about the Deepness and the Well of Ascension. Still, I'm intrigued enough to pick up the third volume of this series.
In retrospect, I feel that there simply wasn't enough material to warrant a novel-length project. Yes, I'm well aware that this book weighs in at 589 pages, yet "filler" is predominant throughout. If you strip The Well of Ascension down to the bare essential, I feel that we'd be left with less than 100 pages. For the most part, by the halfway point of the novel, I was just going through the motions, plowing on without veritable interest, yet hoping that something would turn this one around and get me into it.
The Well of Ascension, with its banter and "funny" dialogues, shows once more that Brandon Sanderson is David Eddings' heir in terms of style, although he's more action-oriented than Eddings ever was. Which means that those who used to love David Eddings should enjoy Sanderson's work. On the downside, those people who couldn't stand Eddings will, in all likelihood, find Sanderson off-putting for the same reasons.
Unlike its predecessor, the characterization in The Well of Ascension is the facet which I found left the most to be desired. I believe the tale missed Kelsier a lot more than I ever thought possible. Vin and Elend's relationship makes for the better part of the story's backdrop, and I found it quite on the lame side. I was hoping for either or both to be killed by page 50, but alas this is no GRRM book. . . Without Kelsier, the rest of his crew lost all their erstwhile appeal.
The narrative doesn't flow well, mainly because Sanderson interrupts the flow of the story with constant thoughts and feelings from every single POV character. There is a lot of "inner" dialogue going on in their heads, often reflecting on what the narrative has just explained. This results in a somewhat sluggish pace, forcing us to go through a lot of emo crap which serves little purpose in the overall scheme of things. . .
The politicking -- the whole "let's make Ellend the bookworm a king" -- was clumsy and unrealistic. And since intrigue and politics are at the heart of the tale, I felt that this one read like a YA novel.
The ending is good enough to make me want to read the final volume of the series. But The Well of Ascension was a letdown, making this book my biggest disappointment of the year thus far.
The final verdict: 6/10
P. S. I believe this is the first time Rob Bedford and I don't agree on a book. . . What is this world coming to!?!:p