Whoah! Yeah. Whoah. Not at all what I was expecting in The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson. At all. If the first book of the Mistborn Trilogy, The Final Empire, hung on to fantasy genre stereotypes by a thread with an older mentor and an orphan hero with magical powers, that thread was cut completely as this book got going. Awesome story. As is often the case with trilogies, this is a darker story than the first, but full of unexpected twists and quite different from anything else I've ever read. The themes of betrayal, trust, love, belief, and friendship that were so important in the first book are back, the characters get more interesting (as if they weren't already so dynamic in the first book) and the things that happen, well, not at all what I was expecting.
One thing I have enjoyed a lot is the relationship/romance at the middle of this story. The romance doesn't take over the story like it kind of does in Stephenie Meyer books, or be simplified and silly like in Eragon and Eldest of the Inheritance trilogy, but is still critical to the plot, and the difficulties they have to overcome are, to me, very easy to identify with - thoughts about whether they deserve each other, each one trying to make self sacraficing decisions because of what they think is best for the other, etc. And it meshes seamlessly into the overall plot for a combined effect of me not being able to wait to find out what happens next.
As far as a production goes, I'm used to the reader now, though he's still no Jim Dale. I give it 5 out of 5 for story and 4 out of 5 for audio production for a 9 out of 10 total. The first book had some gore and violence that made me say early teen for age appropriateness. This book has a little more mature content including a libidinous bad guy so still probably PG13 or so.