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.
Shadows of Self
by Brandon Sanderson
October 6, 2015
Shadows of Self is book five in the Mistborn series, but book two of the second era the series spans. The first three were cataloguing the end of the prior era, this one is more in the industrial revolution. Things like electricity and cars are new inventions, sharing space with horses, trains and, of course, more traditional allomantic modes of travel and entertainment. The mix is intriguing, but feels real and natural, a plausible world that supports the story without trying too much.
But the true strength of the Mistborn series, and this book in particular, is the cast of characters. I love how Wax, cool and powerful, is paired with Wayne, irreverent and chaotic, while Marasi just gets better and better, sleuthing and holding her own. And new character, MeLaan, I love her. I knew her already from having read book 6 first (don’t do that by the way; read them in order), but now I love her even more.
Yes, Shadows of Self features awesome characters in its own right, but I love that it doesn’t leave behind those from the original trilogy. Statues, lore, and kandra memories keep Vin, Elend, and Kelsier alive in tiny but meaningful ways. I thought it was interesting how average (well, sort of average) folks like Wax and the others recall the mythology, and how it’s impacted the steampunky modern Elendel.
As for the action, there’s a ton of it. And it’s mixed in with a fair share of intrigue. The bad guys are mysterious, evil, and really good at doing what they’re doing. Still, there seem to be a lot of coinshot chases, though I suppose that makes sense since Wax is a coinshot. I don’t mind, though. I think I’d be terrified and exhilarated, and it’s fun trying to picture it.
So, just in case you couldn’t tell by the tone of the review thus far, I loved this book. I would recommend Shadows of Self and the Mistborn series to fans of epic fantasy, action, magic, and humor. The world building and realistic, complex characters make it a joy to read, and likely reread.
The review copy of this book was supplied by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
About Brandon Sanderson
January 2015 marks the release of Firefight, the sequel to Steelheart. When only evil people gain super powers and become tyrants, it’s up to normal people to hunt them down. There is a free 5-chapter preview ebook of Steelheart here on Amazon that you should check out, with a corresponding sampler audiobook on Audible. My Firefight book tour in the US lasts throughout January.
Recent short releases are Legion: Skin Deep (sequel to Legion), the further investigations of an average man whose many hallucinations are all experts in their own fields, and also my novella Sixth of the Dusk, set in the same universe as Mistborn and Stormlight, revolving around an attack on an island trapper’s way of life.
My biggest recent epic fantasy is Words of Radiance, written as a love letter of sorts to the epic fantasy genre. It continues the story of the Stormlight Archive that began in The Way of Kings, and it’s the type of book I always dreamed epic fantasy could be. October 2015 and January 2016 will also see the release of two new Mistborn books, Shadows of Self and Bands of Mourning.
Mistborn and the Stormlight Archive are among my most popular works, as are my concluding volumes to Robert Jordan’s epic series The Wheel of Time. My novella The Emperor’s Soul won a Hugo Award in 2013. That year also marked the release of my first young adult fantasy, The Rithmatist.
Sample chapters from all of my books are available at brandonsanderson.com/library — and check out the rest of my site for chapter-by-chapter annotations, deleted scenes, and more.