Book Review: The Bands of Mourning
A Mistborn Novel
By Brandon Sanderson
With The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a New York Times bestselling spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America.
Now, with The Bands of Mourning, Sanderson continues the story. The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
Sanderson warns his readers at the end of The Bands of Mourning that the epic finale of Mistborn: Era Two – The Lost Metals – will not be published until he finishes the third volume of the Stormlight Archive. I am warning you now before you read The Bands of Mourning so you can weigh your options, because there are more unanswered questions looming at the end of this installment. Waiting to read it probably is not an actual option. Sanderson teases us that he has released a novella to tide us over. (Something that can be read in an hour doesn’t really tide us over.) There are spoilers ahead, though I’ve tried to minimize them – you have been warned.
One of my top favorite points in Mistborn: Era Two continues to be the characters. I love the relationship of Wax and Wayne. Wax would be too serious without his counter-part Wayne. Wax would be the Mr. Darcy, Edward Rochester or another Byronic hero if this book had been written over 100 years ago. Wax needs to be saved like any dark, brooding Byronic hero through the innocent love of a good woman. He continues to be in turmoil over his part in Lessie’s death, he is moved through supernatural forces under Harmony’s control and he seeks redemption by bringing justice to his world. Wayne’s character is consistently crude, a miscreant, an unexpected philosopher and loyal. It was particularly interesting to see how Wayne reacts when Wax is in desperate trouble. I laugh over the predicaments that Wayne creates and the responses of the other characters to him, especially when he confuses words and their definitions. I continue to be a Steris fan. Sanderson shows his brilliance in writing a character that epitomizes boring and then can subtly move her into a different light to bring out the readers’ empathy for this woman. She is amazing in her own way; she is more prepared than any boy scout, she is tightly laced as a proper Victorian lady and has the perseverance of a CEO. I laughed at her lists, particularly where she assigns a value to each party in the group based on 100 and gives herself a seven, figuring that she isn’t completely useless. She has obviously made this list to determine how she can be less useless in the future.
World building is another top point in a Sanderson novel. There is a unique opportunity for world building in the Mistborn series. The easy way out would be to develop the world in the first book and then just change the setting and technology in the next two era settings. However, Sanderson doesn’t take the easy way out. He obviously has plans for the entire series and spoon feeds us a little at a time. In the first Mistborn, we meet three kinds of beings and begin to understand how metals can be used by people. In Era Two, the evolution of the people is evident – particularly the koloss, the characters from the previous era are deified – though not all knowing, and now we are introduced to another race of people, AND finally given a hint to something supernatural beyond everything already known. The introduction of this new masked race of people reminds me of cowboys and indians because of the clash of cultures. Both races see the other as inferior and both have their set of strengths. I am anxious to see where Sanderson heads next.
I highly recommend Sanderson. He is one of the most creative and complex modern authors I have found. He is also prolific so there is plenty to enjoy.
4.5 out of 5 stars (pure enjoyment would be 5 out of 5 stars)