The Well of Ascension is the second volume of the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. It is preceded by The Final Empire and followed by The Hero of Ages. The book follows the remaining members of Kelsier's crew as they try to bring stability to Luthadel and the rest of the Final Empire in the chaos following the death of The Lord Ruler. Faced with armies laying seige to the city outside the walls, political factions and unrest among the newly-freed skaa within, and a new, sinister change in behaviour from the mists themselves, Vin, and the rest of the crew, along with the newly crowned King Elend Venture, must find a way to protect the fledgling empire they have created.The Final Empire is in turmoil, with various regions descending into anarchy after the Lord Ruler's death and the disappearance of the Steel Ministry, the Final Empire's religious and government body. Elend Venture immediately claims the crown of the capital city, Luthadel, and attempts to restore order, but various nobles converge to take the city for themselves.Three armies lay siege to Luthadel because of its rumored wealth of Atium and political influence. The first army is led by Straff Venture–head of Luthadel's House Venture, and Elend's father–who is intent on ruling Luthadel and The Final Empire. The second army is led by Ashweather Cett, one of the many who have declared themselves as Kings of the various provinces. The third army consists of Koloss, creatures similar in form to humans but with bodies that keep growing until their hearts can no longer support their size, led by Elend's former friend Jastes–who is buying the Koloss' obedience with counterfeit coins.Vin, Elend and Kelsier's crew are the only ones who know that the Lord Ruler had been a Terrisman with Feruchemical and Allomantic abilities that allowed the Lord Ruler to create an illusion of mythical powers and immortality. After foiling various assassination attempts, they surmise that a Kandra impostor has taken the form and identity of one of Kelsier's crew, to spy on their strategies.Vin becomes suspicious of the mists, while Sazed has come across suspicious deaths that appear to be caused by the mists. Sazed is tracked down by Marsh–Kelsier's brother and a Steel Inquisitor–to accompany him to a Ministry stronghold called "The Conventical of Seran", where the Steel Inquisitors and High Obligators of the Lord Ruler's religion had retreated after the Collapse. They discover that the Steel Inquisitors and High Obligators murdered all of their servants at the Conventical; they also find a Terris journal engraved into steel that was authored by the Terrisman who had claimed that Alendi was the Hero of Ages.Elend's idealism for an equal society is hampered by his gentle and scholarly manner—until Sazed's friend Tindwyl arrives. A Terris Keeper who specialises in biographies of successful leaders, she mentors Elend, teaching him that his studies of political theory are less valuable than the psychological and physical aspects of great leaders that lived. Despite his best efforts, politics begin to cripple Luthadel as the Assembly votes to depose Elend, using the very laws written by Elend, eventually electing Lord Penrod as their new king. Vin meanwhile struggles with her growing fame as The Heir of The Survivor of Hathsin; and she skirmishes Zane, the son of Straff Venture and Elend's half brother, who is revealed to be a powerful Mistborn, but is mentally unstable. Zane seemingly obeys Straff, but while sparring with Vin almost every night, he tries to seduce her and convince her to leave with him.Misting assassins attack Elend at an Assembly meeting, where Vin kills them in front of Elend, causing their relationship to deteriorate. Despite being the most powerful Mistborn alive, Vin feels helpless against the besieging armies and at Zane's urging, seeks revenge for Cett's assassination attempt by killing hundreds of Cett's soldiers at his temporary Luthadel mansion. She had been convinced that Cett was a Mistborn, but upon learning that he wasn't, she stops herself from killing him. Cett decides to leave the city and abandon his siege after the loss of his soldiers.Convinced that she should leave with Zane, Vin changes her mind to stay and support Elend with her trust. Zane is enraged and tries to kill her, revealing that he is the real Contract owner of Vin's kandra, who is actually named TenSoon — the imposter of Elend's inner Council was impersonating the dead OreSeur all along. To save Vin while keeping his Contract, TenSoon warns Zane that Vin had learned the Kandra's secret weakness. Reminded of her discovery, she uses Allomancy to take control of TenSoon's body, and is able to kill Zane. Freed from her own and Zane's negativity, Vin accepts Elend's longstanding marriage proposal. Sazed and the rest of the crew scheme to get Elend and Vin out of the city, with Sazed creating a fake map to the Well of Ascension, where Vin is convinced she must go.Straff Venture withdraws his forces to allow the koloss army to attack Luthadel, planning to rescue the city after the koloss have destroyed most of it and suffered casualties. Vin returns to Luthadel just in time to save Sazed and most of the city's civilians. She eventually discovers that she is able to control the koloss using her Allomancy, realizing this was how the Lord Ruler kept them in check. She stops their slaughtering and pillaging, and with the rest of the human army from Luthadel, attacks Straff Venture's army. Vin kills Straff and his generals as Cett decides to ally himself with Luthadel. Vin tells the armies that Elend is their new emperor, and that Cett, Penrod and the last general of Straff's army can be kings under him.Vin realizes that the Well of Ascension is in Luthadel itself, and finds a previously unknown doorway in the Lord Ruler's former dwelling, that leads down to a series of caves. She finds the Well of Ascension, and is encouraged to "release" the power for the good of the world. She decides not to try to use the power to heal the dying Elend or fix anything else, but to release it. The moment she releases it, an entity shouts out that it is now free. Vin then feeds Elend a bead of metal that makes him a Mistborn, allowing Elend to save his life with Allomancy.
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