Book Review – Shadows of Self

Cover of Shadows of Self, by Brandon Sanderson. Artwork by Chris McGrath. Published in the U.S. by Tor.

Cover of Shadows of Self, by Brandon Sanderson. Artwork by Chris McGrath. Published in the U.S. by Tor.

Just a little less than four years ago, The Alloy of Law, the follow up novel to Brandon Sanderson’s lauded Mistborn trilogy was published. Most fans of Brandon Sanderson know the story of how he conceived of the idea for The Alloy of Law as a writing exercise he used to clear his head while finishing up Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series as well as working on his own epic series, The Stormlight Archive. Luckily, Brandon was so pleased by the creation that he decided to submit it for publication. And though it lacked the characters of the original Mistborn trilogy, readers found a whole new cast of lovable characters living three hundred years after Vin and friends prevented the destruction of their world. After finishing up A Memory of Light, and Words of Radiance, Brandon continues the story of The Alloy of Law with the publication of Shadows of Self.

Picking up after the events in The Alloy of Law, Waxillium Ladrian, his hat loving partner Wayne, and the tomboyish, but genius Marasi are now employed by the constabulary of the city of Elendel. Wax and Wayne, both Twinborn Allomancers (Allomancers with one Allomantic and one Feruchemical ability) help protect the city from criminals both seen and unseen. During a recent crime spree and a period of social unrest amongst the lower classes of Elendel’s society, Wax, Wayne, and Marasi begin to suspect that an unknown agent is attempting to stir up religious, political, and social strife in order to plunge Elendel into a state of chaos. But as the trio of heroes delve deeper into the machinations of the unknown entity at work, they find there is much more at stake than they realize. In order to stop the chaos from spreading, they’ll need to muster all their courage, push their abilities to their limits, and find the strength to endure an attack on their very faith and beliefs. Time is short, and Harmony may be at risk if they fail.

With Shadows of Self, Sanderson once again proves that he is a master of the fantasy genre. The plot moves at a breakneck pace with all the twists, turns, and shocking revelations that fans have come to expect from Sanderson’s books. But the characters themselves are the real stars of the show. They all develop and grow with such minute care and attention to detail that one has to wonder if Sanderson isn’t secretly Hoid and has been world jumping to Scadrial to see his characters’ struggles and growth firsthand. If The Alloy of Law didn’t convince fans of the original Mistborn trilogy that the new cast of characters wouldn’t be every bit as endearing as Vin, Kelsier, Elend, Sazed and the rest of the gang, Shadows of Self will. Even minor players, like Wax’s fiancee, Steris, get some developmental love almost to the point of stealing the show from the main characters at times. The return of a couple of familiar faces are the cherry on top of this fast-paced, jaw-dropping entry in the series.

Fans won’t want to miss Shadows of Self, and won’t be able to put it down. And if you haven’t read any of the Mistborn books, then you better start catching up. I have a feeling that, like the first Mistborn trilogy, the Wax and Wayne books will go down as some of the best the fantasy genre has to offer. Period.

Luckily we won’t have to wait long for the next book, The Bands of Mourning, which goes on sale in January, 2016.

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