Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books (US) / Gollancz (UK)
Source: NetGalley Ebook
Released: 6th October (US) and 15th October (UK)
Shadows of Self continues the tale from The Alloy of Law, but which first began in the Mistborn trilogy. As such, I would not recommend reading either this book or the previous one without having first read the original trilogy based in this world. Not only will you have a background of the world this is based in and the magic system, but you will also have a much greater appreciation for the throwbacks and developments that occur in this series.
On another note, as this is the second book in a series, I would not recommend reading this review if you have not already read the first book. There will be spoilers. You have been warned.
But, getting back to the book, Shadows of Self continues nearly a year after The Alloy of Law and Wax is pre-occupied with both the hunt for his wayward uncle and the preparations for his wedding to Steris. Soon, however, he becomes caught up in an investigation of a massacre of a number of criminal elites. Not only does this drastically alter the balance of power in the criminal world and potentially have severe ramifications on the political world that presides over Elendel, but it also drags Wax into something far bigger than anything he could have thought possible.
As I only had an excerpt of the book, what I read was fantastic. The story progressed at an excellent pace with each character getting their fair share of focus and development. I really like how the series is taking a more political turn while still maintaining the tone and adventures of the previous book and allowing for the overarching plot to develop. Wax uncovers more sinister schemes and the mythology built up in the Mistborn trilogy is expanded even more.
Sanderson’s writing continues to be strong, although I did find the description that Wayne’s hand shook every time he held a gun to be a bit repetitive. Only one, I believe, did Sanderson get a bit more creative with how difficult it was for Wayne to hold such a weapon otherwise, his hand kept shaking. Besides that minor grievance, I was hooked and taken along on this journey with prose which really wove the world out for me.
I have to say, I love the core trio. Each has their own intricacies and strengths; their personalities stand out against one another and it is a joy to read their points of view. I particularly love how Marais has a bit more independence in this book and is able to stand on her two feet. The other females in this book also get more of a role without it coming across too forced which is a delight to see.
We also get to explore more of Wax’s history, something that is only touched upon in the previous book as well as get to see a bit more of his character, something which felt a bit lacking in the previous book – he often finds himself overshadowed by Wayne who, as ever, continues to be the lovable rogue with a fondness for hats.
While the first half of this book (the part I read) does not go outside of Elendel, we do get to explore more of the city and the other cultures that reside within it. I really enjoyed seeing the Terris people, both as characters and as a glimpse into another society. This adds greater depth to the world and makes it seem more real – with different sub-cultures residing in one place rather than it being one system of people.
We also get a greater insight into the religions, history and political system of Scadrial. Seeing how the world has developed after the events of the Mistborn trilogy is a wonderful read, especially with the strong connection to that trilogy – with the religions (a massive part of Sazed’s character) and even the characters themselves.
Shadows of Self comes across as a strong sequel to The Alloy of Law. I am really excited to get my hands on the full copy to find out what happens (this excerpt frustratingly leaves off when things start getting really good). I did have a lot of confusion to start with due to part one being introduced as ‘Seventeen Years Later’. I could not work out when it was referring to, as it is mentioned a couple of times that this book takes place almost a year after the events of the previous book. This question may perhaps be answered in the rest of the book, or in the published copy, but in this except I was left a bit confused which was a bit of a bad start. Luckily, the book more than made up for it.