Sunday, January 14, 2018

Review: Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Book: Shadows of Self
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Series: Wax and Wayne #2 (Mistborn #5)
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Pages: 383
Published: October 6th, 2015

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.

Holy snap. A book where more than 80% of it happens in the span of a night? Crazy!!!

This book continues on a bit after the events of the first one. Nothing new per se has really happened, other than your normal skirmishes in any city's nightlife. Wax has more or less settled himself into the life of being part lawman, part nobleman, though it's still a strange feeling. But citizens of Elendel are becoming uneasy due to increasing work hours with decreasing pay, resulting in the increase in unemployment rate. Add a string of murders that are occurring and are seemingly strategic attacks against the government, and you have another headache for Wax and his friends to tackle. But nothing is every straightforward, especially not when Allomancy is involved...

This book was definitely more political than the first. But that being said, it also addressed some very real social issues in the world, like workers' rights. It really asked the big questions of why governments run the way they do, how those people in power are even in power when there's evidence they're running illegal operations, and the prejudice that continues to divide those with noble blood and the common people. Add the whole religion aspect (which, I might add, is an interesting concept since the figures the people worship are the very characters from the first Mistborn series), and you have a complex thought-provoking novel of a fantasy book.

Despite all the politics, magic was still the prevalent theme. Allomancy has not been sidelined, nor has the focus been taken off it. Rather, as the world continues to develop, so does the realm of magical knowledge, but in different and unexpected ways. We got a lot of new revelations, along with the reappearance of some familiar and eerie uses of this world's magic system.

As for the characters, I was a bit torn as to how they played out. The ones I liked for their character and unique thinking didn't play as vital roles as I would have liked, and vice versa. The characters balanced out all the plot points, yes, but to me, it felt a bit off-kilter.

As is typical for Sanderson's fantasy books, the novel introduces and wraps up the major questions in the timeframe of the book. But also in Sanderson fashion, he dangles small loose ends and questions that we all know are going to be major plot points in the next book. Both frustrating yet satisfying, in my opinion... Regardless, it still was an excellent read, filled with the same brilliantness I expect from no one other than Sanderson. I'm looking forward to getting the (big) answers in the final book, though there still remains ten months to wait for it... Time to reread the series, perhaps?

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