A couple of months ago, I read and participated in an on-line read along for Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy novel Mistborn. I enjoyed the novel and the conversation so when Carl V announced he’d decided to continue the read-along for the next two novels in the series, I eagerly agreed.
This time around, Carl has proposed the idea of making it a blog tour read-along event. Each week’s conversation will be hosted by a different book blogger. I’m really looking forward to visiting not only the host site each week but also all the old and new friends as we discuss the second novel The Well of Ascension.
Carl is kicking off the tour this week over at Stainless Steel Droppings. He’s got some interesting things to say about the first section of the novel. This week’s discussion is a bit more free-form and without any opening questions. Before I get into my thoughts on the first section, let me warn you that if you’ve not read Mistborn and the first section of The Well of Ascension, there will be SPOILERS here.
I used to know a guy who swore reading the first installment in a series until he had the full series in hand and ready to read. Oh sure, he’d pick up each addition to the series, saying he’d been burned too often by early novels in a series going out of print just as the final novel in each series was released and then being stuck haunting used book stores to find volume one (this was in the days before Amazon and E-Bay….how did we ever live?!?).
It was an interesting way to approach reading series and every time I pick up the first installment in a new series, I can’t help but think of him.
As I read the second installment in the Mistborn saga, I couldn’t help but also think of my reaction to people who are just “discovering” the Hunger Games for themselves. I read the novels as they came out and I feel a certain amount of envy for those who only have to wait as long as it takes to pick up the next novel in the series or load it up on the ol’ e-reader to find out what happens next. I had to wait a WHOLE YEAR in between each book, for heaven’s sake!
But then you get to something like the Mistborn novels and I’m the fortunate one. I only have to wait as long as I want to between the first three installments to find out what happens next. And believe me, I was curious to find out what happened next. At the end of Mistborn, the plan had come together–maybe not in the way we expected, but our heroes had met their stated goals for the book. And now comes the interesting part of things, at least for me–dealing with the consequences (both intended and unintended) of the first novel.
Of course, the biggest is that, sure we’ve replaced the Lord Ruler, but now what? What kind of powers will be wanting to step in and fill the vacuum left behind? We see glimpses of that here, with various armies riding in an an attempt to lay claim to the power and possibly fill the void left by the Lord Ruler. And while we root for Elend because he was one of the characters we got to know in book one and he’s now a full fledged love interest for Vin, I can’t help but wonder what a novel might look like from the point of view of his father or the leader of the other army who just rolled into town.
This first section felt a bit like both a catch-up and putting our pieces into play for what’s going to unfold next. We don’t pick up right away, but it’s been a year since the events of Mistborn. Vin and Elend are romantically involved and it feels a lot more authentic here than it did at the end of Mistborn, but things aren’t perfect. Elend keeps proposing and she keeps not answering. Interesting dynamic and I wonder how long this can last before those who are ruled perceive it as a weakness.
I also liked the reaction to the death of Kelsier and the small group that wants to make him the focal point of a new religion. I’m really hoping Sanderson pays off on that later in this novel or in the next installment. Since we got to know Kelsier, foibles and all in the first book, it should be interesting to see how the cult building up around him views him, especially as we get farther out from his death.