Book two of this extraordinarily original fantasy series created by one of the profession's elite is a smooth, fun, fast, and exciting read right from the opening page. Vin - the once street urchin - is still in love with young King Elend, and young King Elend is till in love with Vin. Most of the old gang have returned, and even the dead ones tend to linger via their ghosts. There are even hints of someone's return, but I may be reading too strongly between the lines there for that comment to be valid. The story opens with a siege. The city is surrounded by more bad guys than you can shake a (metaphorical) stick at, and its up to the heroes of book one to come together again and develop a solution that will ensure their survival, as well as that of the city's inhabitants, too. Mr Sanderson's writing never seems to get bogged down in 'boring bits'. The chapters are relatively short, but even the longer ones are comprised of mini chapters that are obvious places to put the book down (why would you?) if you have the need. Kudos must again go the publisher for these beautifully presented paperbacks. Gorgeously stunning covers (that match the originality of the story found within) and lovely thick, smelly paper to adore as the reader traverses the land of The Final Empire. And maps. I like maps. Maps rule. Of course this book is not just about surviving a siege. There is the hunt for the legendary stash of atium that is rumoured to be hidden (somewhere...) way back when, by the Lord Ruler. There are lands for the reader to explore (via minor and major characters such as Sazed) and he comes upon a doozie of a monster species called the blue-skinned Koloss. Very violent, very fast growing, very very ugly and very quick to die. I love these guys! The writing is not goose-bump inducingly beautiful. How can it be when the entire fable is based on a riddle that you read backwards. Book one opened with a dead city, being governed by the bad guys and it was only the efforts of a small group of revolutionaries (that had no idea that plants and trees are meant to be green, and that the sky is meant to be blue - not black) who have made such an impact on the lives of the populace they were fighting for. Of course other heinous characters return, but not in such an intimidating way. The Steel inquisitors are a truly brilliant creation, and they feel like something that belongs in a horror novel, as opposed to a fantasy one. But such is the world that was created by the author of this incredible tale, that they fit right in. The story is a tad slow in the first third, until we meet the book's arguably pivotal character. Zane is his name, but nothing more will I add about him to this review for fear of spoilers. His place in the story is significant (obviously) and he is one seriously dangerous dude from many perspectives. Of course the story goes on. Just like the WELL OF ASCENSION itself, book two is a deep, deep, deep, and always thrilling ride into an unknown land, populated with men, women, children, monsters, and even ash that falls from a black sky, and where the populace are too scared to venture out at night for fear of death waiting for them in mist form. And so this book gets a very solid four stars from me. Now, back to reading of the rescue of THE FINAL EMPIRE I go. Wish me luck, fellow book lover. If I fail to return, feel free to send out a search party. I am heading north, to the TERRIS DOMINANCE, home of the sacred Well of Ascension. For that is where rumour tells me the stashed source of mystical attium can be found. BFN Greggorio!