New Release Book Review: Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

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Title: Shadows of Self
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Published: October 8th 2015
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Adult, Epic Fantasy
Length: 384 pages

I received an ARC hardback of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Blurb (via Goodreads):

With The Alloy of Law, 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.

The trilogy’s heroes are now figures of myth and legend, even objects of religious veneration. They are succeeded by wonderful new characters, chief among them Waxillium Ladrian, known as Wax, hereditary Lord of House Ladrian but also, until recently, a lawman in the ungoverned frontier region known as the Roughs. There he worked with his eccentric but effective buddy, Wayne. They are “twinborn,” meaning they are able to use both Allomantic and Feruchemical magic.

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.

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.

My Thoughts

You can find my reviews for previous books in this series here: The Alloy of Law | Shadows of Self (preview)

The Mistborn trilogy was the first books that I read by Brandon Sanderson and I instantly fell in love with the characters and the world. When The Alloy of Law was released, set in the same world years later, I was excited to see where the story would go and fell in love all over again with Wax and Wayne. Shadows of Self follows on where The Alloy of Law left off, with Wax still trying to fit in with the Lords and Ladies of society when he really just wants the freedoms of the Roughs back.

Three hundred years after the events of The Hero of Ages, we’re back in the world that Sazed helped to mould, the new city of Elendel. On the verge of a new era – equivalent to the industrial revolution – the city is a far cry from the world that Vin and Kelsier lived in and yet what is building in the heart of the city has a tinge of the familiar. Disquiet is grumbling through the common workers and it’s slowly building.

Wax and Wayne, now helping the local constabulary of their Octant – along with Marasi who is now the aide to the constable-general – are called in to help after the brutal murder of the governor’s brother. After hosting an auction under the guise of buying a painting when really it was himself up for sale, the governor’s brother wasn’t murdered alone. The city’s most notorious crime lords were there too, and most of noble society’s Lords and Ladies.

When it becomes clear that the governor himself is a target, Wax tries his best to protect the man despite his shady dealings. But they soon learn that their assassin isn’t human. She is, instead, a Faceless Immortal – a creature thought to be a myth. Knowing what they’re up against, the kandra creatures of old, Wax and Wayne race against time as the creature known as Bleeder rallies the city’s workers to boiling point to try and force a rebellion to echo that of Kelsier’s uprising of old.

As the clues finally slot into place, Wax fears they may be too late. But even then, there are new secrets to be revealed.

As the first in a new trilogy, this book is explosive. Throwing us instantly into the world with the brutal murder of the city’s underbelly catapults into a mystery with new twists and turns at every corner. Not only is Wax having to deal with Bleeder and the threat of civil unrest, but he fears he may be losing his mind when he catches glimpses of a face that can’t possibly exist…

Once again, the characters are what make this story feel alive. With Wax’s concentration constantly on his Uncle and what plans he may be making, Wayne’s relaxed and sometimes goofy style makes for welcome comic relief. I really warmed to Steris in this book too, she’s not just the prim and proper daughter of a Lord anymore, she’s the sassy counterpart to Wax. And, of course, Marasi’s change to constable was a welcome change – the position suits her and it was great to see that she still had her rebellious, courageous streak too.

The references to the Survivor, the Ascendant Warrior and Harmony, the old characters from the Mistborn trilogy are not forgotten and it’s great to see the mythos of their religions more in this book. The different religions that have spanned from the events of the third book are explored a bit more in this one and I found it really interesting to see how different some of the reactions are to what truly happened – or what they believe happened.

Weaving in the old Western feel of the Roughs with the budding modern era of the city – with motorcars slowly being introduced to a society that had been using horse and carts – we start to get a feel for where this generation of Mistborn might be heading and I’m excited to see more.

There is a lot to follow in this story, and it’s made all the more exciting by it being shorter than the original trilogy – the same amount of thrills and twists but packed tighter together. As I described to my boyfriend after I had finished (he’s also a huge Sanderson fan and was waiting to read the book after me): The book was good for the first three quarters and then the ending blew my mind. It. Was. Amazing.

The ending, when everything starts to fall into place and we realise just how the events of the book came into play was nothing short of brilliant. Sanderson is a genius when it comes to weaving a great plot together. I had no idea that this was how it was going to end and it’s only made me more eager for what is to come – because there’s just no way to NOT be excited about where he’s going to take it next.

When all is said and done, Sanderson is one of the stand out fantasy giants. His worlds are rich with detail you can immerse yourself into. His characters are living, breathing people you connect with. His plots are exciting and thrilling and unexpected.

An exciting new start to the second Mistborn era, Shadows of Self is a fantasy delight full of delicious adventure, friends of old, and a mystery to lose yourself in.

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Buy Links:

Non-Affiliate: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Waterstones

Affiliate: Book Depository


About the Author

Brandon Sanderson was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested to him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This changed when an eighth grade teacher gave him Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly.

Brandon was working on his thirteenth novel when Moshe Feder at Tor Books bought the sixth he had written. Tor has published Elantris , the Mistborn trilogy and its followup The Alloy of Law , Warbreaker , and The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance , the first two in the planned ten-volume series The Stormlight Archive. He was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; 2009’s The Gathering Storm and 2010’sTowers of Midnight were followed by the final book in the series, A Memory of Light , in January 2013. Four books in his middle-grade Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians series were released by Scholastic, and his novella Infinity Blade Awakening was an ebook bestseller for Epic Games accompanying their acclaimedInfinity Blade iOS video game series. Two more novellas, Legion and The Emperor s Soul , were released by Subterranean Press and Tachyon Publications in 2012, and 2013 brings two young adult novels, The Rithmatistfrom Tor and Steelheart from Delacorte.

The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award six times in four years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of Kings. The Emperor’s Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella. He has appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List multiple times, with five novels hitting the #1 spot.

Currently living in Utah with his wife and children, Brandon teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.

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2 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

  1. Pingback: New Release Book Review: The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson – Heather Reviews

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