Book Review: Shadows of Self
By Brandon Sanderson
Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.
This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
Sanderson is one of my favorite authors because he is brilliant. Every world he creates is developed, unique and fascinating. He is also complicated in his books, but keep everything held together and moving at a clipping pace.
About the only thing I didn’t love about this one was the title, Shadows of Self, though in Sanderson’s defense the title does make sense by the end.
A book just doesn’t work if it doesn’t have good characters and believable interaction between characters. Wax and Wayne sound like brothers who have a script of banter they have used for so many years that they know their part without needing to rehearse. It is so much fun to see the twists and turns in their conversations. The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun without their relationship.
Wax, who is very much a Byronic Hero, continues to brood over his past “sin”, which is the death of Lessie. As any respectable Byronic Hero would do, Wax stalks around rejecting human interaction, giving the women who could be his savior the cold shoulder and in general will make a grown woman swoon as he saves and protects others slinging his guns around. Even Steris plans entry into a congested party by having Wax fly her up to the balcony, which is “inappropriate but breathtaking.”
Wayne, the comedic relief, makes me laugh because he is so off the wall. At one point the messenger says Wayne’s lady love, Ranette said to slap him. Wayne is thrilled; convinced it is a sign of her affection and is dancing about trying to get the butler to give him a slap. Another of his “Wayne moments” comes as he interviews a woman questioning her about her black pumps. Obviously, he wants to purchase himself a pair, much to her bafflement. There are moments when Wayne is wise, much like a jester at court can get away with saying something true that know one else can say and live. Wayne is also tortured by his past, which is why he can work with Wax. He knows he can never truly make amends.
The two women are Marasi and Steris, half-sisters. They have very little interaction with each other and both play a minor role in this novel. Initially readers prefer Marasi because she is bashful, inquisitive, spontaneous and good with a gun. Marasi continues to be a spit ball of fire and the world is taking notice of her abilities more than her birth, well, at least sometimes. Steris on the other hand, is controlled, commanding and cold. It is interesting that in a few short scenes the reader’s understanding and compassion for Steris grows. We realize she has been hurt and is reactive in her decisions based on her past experiences. Wax laughs as she makes a small joke, which she confesses to have planned earlier and he proclaims that she is genuine. We discover, as does Was that Steris is always genuine and the final scene with her (which I am not going to spoil) is one of my top favorite scenes ever highlighting her true character.
Shadows of Self begins to merge ideas started in the original Mistborn series into this current world. I like to see it tying into its roots. Justice cannot be done in a short explanation. Watching the development of the religions, prejudice and species is fascinating. Shadows of Self made very little progress in recovering the kidnapped girls and resolving Wax’s problems with his evil uncle. Instead, a whole new world of problems opened up expanding our vision of the complexities. I have complete confidence that Branderson will tie it all together and we just will get to hang on for the ride.
If you haven’t read Mistborn, it would be best to start there. Branderson is a must read!
4.5 out of 5 stars