Book Review: Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Posted July 15, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
Series: , ,
Genres: Science Fiction
Published by Tor on October 6, 2015
Pages: 383
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also by this author: The Alloy of Law, The Bands of Mourning

Second in the Wax and Wayne subseries and fifth in the Mistborn science fiction series with this series revolving around Waxillium Ladrian, his friends, and his family and Wayne. It’s been a year since The Alloy of Law, 4.

In 2015, Shadows of Self was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Fantasy.

My Take

This conspiracy is a blend of science fiction, detective work, and past history — theirs and ours (it’s our Industrial Revolution all over again) — with the focus on the kandra about whom we learn so much.

Do NOT skip the prologue! It’s a short tale of Wax’s early days in the Roughs (17 years ago) when he first meets Lessie. Wax has obviously come a long way since then, lol. There was just too much to enjoy in the prologue from the truth about Destroyer, how long Wayne has been the way he is, and Wax’s determination to garner a reputation, to have a “thing”. If it weren’t Mistborn, I’d be thinking Wax has been watching too much Zorro what with his planning to jump from the second floor into Destroyer’s saddle, *more laughter*

For all that I hated what Wax had to do in The Alloy of Law, I’m beginning to think Steris is perfect for him. She’s a stoic who plans for every eventuality, so I think Wax will be a challenge for her and an unexpected relief for Wax.

I did love that scene in which Wax “drops in” on the governor and challenges his ability to protect himself. Do read the broadsides Sanderson sprinkles throughout the book. It brings that flavor of the Old West and pious hypocrisy in nicely.

We’re learning more about the Wisdom of Wayne, lol. I much prefer Wayne’s version of it to Edwarn’s. Wait’ll you read the scene in the bank. The lesson Edwarn tried to instill in the twelve-year-old Wax. The one that saw Jendel jump off a bridge. And Wayne’s approach to life provides a nice counterpoint to the drama of Bleeder. Although, when I got right down to it, there really wasn’t a lot of tension. Yes, drama existed, and I was dang curious to see how they’d figure it all out, but nope, not much real tension.

Back to Wayne with his theories on language (delicate doughnut??) and hats, his ability to blend, the extremes he’ll go to get someone’s goat, his straightforward approach to life — those poor maids! I am curious as to how he intends to get everyone drunk.

I do like the relationship Marasi has with Aradel. She speaks her mind, and Aradel accepts and appreciates it. Both can see where there is room for improvement in their society as well as within the constabulary. I do like these positive promises! On the other hand, some of Aradel’s expectations leave Marasi’s self-esteem in the dust.

What was that comment Bleeder made about not having killed Wax’s father yet? His dad is dead. Then there’s the revelation about Harmony pushing Bleeder too hard.

I really, really hate to say this, but Edwarn did give me something to think about. I still hate the man, but…dang…

It’ll be interesting to see if anything changes for Wax, constabulary-wise. Seems he’s not making himself at all popular with his freewheelin’ actions.

There are opposing actions at the end. Ah, geez. Oh, man. The ending. That awful ending. Aradel has it so much better than Wax after those truths Wax learns, that break him. And there’s the new conflict, that bloody cliffhanger Sanderson drops in.

The Story

Mistborn is evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy growing, democracy contending with corruption, and religion becoming a growing bone of contention.

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 and brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Mistborn’s progress in its tracks.

The Characters

Lord Waxillium “Wax” Ladrian of House Ladrian, a.k.a., Dawnshot (his grandmother insists his name should have been Asinthew), had been a lawman in the wild Roughs until he was forced home by tragedy to save his house. He’s also a Twinborn, a Coinshot who can Push off a dropped piece of metal and a Feruchemist who can use his metalminds to reduce his weight. Since events in The Alloy of Law, Wax has a special deputized forbearance in the constabulary. Destroyer was his placid horse in the Roughs. The earring Wax wears is a Hemalurgic spike that allows him to converse with his god. Vindication and Sterrion are the guns Ranette made for him. Darriance is the forbearing house butler. Hoid is the coachman.

Wayne became Wax’s irreverent deputy when he was sixteen (he’s a, supposedly, former thief) as well as a Twinborn who uses bendalloy to fuel his Allomancy as a Slider (create a bubble of compressed time around himself) with the Feruchemical ability to heal fast, a Bloodmaker. He’s an observant cuss and can blend in anywhere. Ranette is a good friend, a Lurcher, and a gunsmith.

Steris, Lady Harms, is Wax’s fiancée, the boring one. What a fascinating switch she proves! Wax suggests she invite Douglas Venture for his reliability, lol. Lord Jackstom Harms is her wealthy father. Lieutenant Marasi Colms, Lady Colms, is Steris’ half-sister (and a bastard) who’s in love with Wax and gave up her law career to become a constable, hugely disappointing her mother.

The City of Elendel is…

…the capital of Mistborn. Lord Replar Innate is the governor. Drim is a friend and his chief bodyguard and head of security. Lord Winsting Innate is the governor’s corrupt, lazy brother, an Allomancer who can shape emotions, and the head of House Innate. Flog is his bodyguard. Blome tends bar.

Lord Stenet is into textiles; Lord Bookers and Lady Shayna are boring; the Lekals could be a power; Lady ZoBell is having a party; and, Donton is the secretary of education.

The constables are…
…divided into Octants. Constable-general Claude Aradel (who has no noble blood) who hired Marasi as his aide, commands in the Fourth Octant. Captain Reddi hates Marasi. Lieutenants Caberel, Mereline, and Taudr are other female constables. Lieutenants Ahlstrom and Javies (who will command a field team), Corporal Maindew, and Constables Terri and Miklin (who runs the records office) are under Aradel’s command. Chip is a contract Coinshot.

The Breakouts is a slum where the people take care of each other. For a price. The Village is a Terris neighborhood where Elder Vwafendal, Wax’s grandmother, lives. Razal is one of the troublemakers. Idashwy is a Terrismen Steelrunner who left the Village.

The Set is…
…a criminal organization with Edwarn Ladrian, Wax’s uncle, a.k.a., Mister Suit, as one of its leaders. The Marksman is an Allomancer who robs the rich and is connected to the Set.

Other crooks in Elendel include Dowser Maline who runs smuggling ops; Lord Hughes Entrone, cousin and confidant to the head of House Entrone; Darm; Chip Erikell, a Third Octant smuggler; Isabaline Frellia; Lady Lentin; and, the Hammondeses.

Dims is the leader of a street gang who introduces Wayne to gum. The Cobblers are a rival street gang. Madam Penfor, a.k.a., the Tyrant of Pashadon, guards the gates. Allriandre is the daughter of the man Wayne shot. Clotilde. I think Tim Vashin invented the motorcar. Red is a boatman. Mirabell, a statistician and psychologist in the third century, wrote Mirabell’s Rules which Marasi loves. Sophi Tarcsel is the daughter of Remington Tarcsel, the inventor of the incandescent light. Professor Hanlanaze is a mathematician whom Sophi sees as a thief. Rame Maldor wrote the paper on the Higgins effect. House Cett owns Ashweather Company, a taxi service using Barrington coaches. Chapaou drives coach sixteen. Other drivers include Jone and Forgeron. Johnst caused the flood.

The various religions include…
Survivorists who believe in Kell; Father Bin was a Survivorist. The Pathians believe Harmony is their god but one whom they are forbidden to worship. Larkspur is a Pathian.

The kandra are…
…the Faceless Immortals who can take in the bones of the dead to mimic that person. The kandra had been created from mistwraiths by the Lord Ruler using Hemalurgy, and in their original form, they have emerald skeletons and transparent heads. Now they are considered the hands of Harmony. Their homeland is in the tunnels beneath the Fields of Rebirth in Elendel. TenSoon, the Guardian, is an Immortal who prefers the shape of a wolfhound. Paalm, a.k.a., Bleeder, is Third Generation Immortal and older than Harmony, and she’s gone insane. Milan, a.k.a., MeLaan, is a kandra sent to help Wax.

Harmony, the Hero of Ages, who had been Sazed, now holds both Ruin and Preservation, the old world’s former gods, to give himself balance. His name is also a form of expletive.

The Roughs are…
…the Wild West of Mistborn. Granite Joe was a notorious outlaw the naive Wax is hunting. Lessie is another bounty hunter whom Wax meets for the first time. The Boris brothers intend to kill Wax. Bloody Tan is the outlaw who caused Lessie to be killed. Ape Manton, the Dashir boys, Rick Stranger, and more are enemies whom Steris sorts by threat level. Jon Deadfinger was the lawman who had mentored Wax.

A Metalborn is a person born with one of the three Metallic Arts: Allomancy in which a person draws power from an external source; Feruchemy neither gains nor loses power but requires metal as a focus; and, Hemalurgy is a dark art that steals a Metalborn’s Allomantic or Feruchemical abilities. When two spikes are in the body, Harmony can control them; with one spike, the person can do as they like with their powers. A Twinborn is a person born with an Allomantic power and a Feruchemical power. Aluminum cannot be affected by Allomantic power. Of the Metalborn, Soothers mellow out your emotions (Mistress Halex runs a Soothing parlor); Rioters rouse them up; Lurchers can pull iron to them; Steelrunners can store up speed; and, Coinshots Pull on metals.

Vin was the Ascendant Warrior, and Elend had been the Last Emperor. Ironeyes is Marsh; he gave Lestibournes’ book to Wax. I think the Catacendre was the last battle in The Hero of Ages, 3, or it could have been the first three stories?? Kell was the Survivor. The Originators had included the Lord Mistborn (Nico says this is Spook and not Hammond), Lady Truth, and Edgard Ladrian (Wax’s ancestor). Kredik Shaw had been the Lord Ruler’s palace.

A conner is a cop. Scadrial is the name of their planet. Expletives include Rust and Ruin, rusting, and Harmony.

The Cover and Title

The cover is gray, so depressing you’d think you were back in the ash. We’re inside a house with huge windows with a belligerent looking Wax, staring off to the right in his black duster and black suit, pulling a steampunk-looking pistol from his holster while a focused Marasi stands behind him in her fitted black suit and white blouse, straggly hair hanging on both sides of her face, glaring off to the left.

The title is a reference to what Wax learns at the end, those Shadows of Self.

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4 responses to “Book Review: Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

  1. It’s a fascinating blend of science fiction, steampunk, the Old West, and Victoriana. This story is actually part of a second trilogy within Sanderson’s Mistborn series. The first trilogy introduces us to the concept of the metal minds and their particular abilities and the overthrow of the “evil dictator”. This second set explores the world that emerged from the overthrow.

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