“Shadows of Self” (Mistborn #5) by Brandon Sanderson Review


Shadows of Self

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: October 2015

This is the 5th Mistborn novel, and the 2nd novel of the 2nd trilogy. The first trilogy dealt with a very feudal society, very similar to most fantasy novels where the technology is limited to spears and arrows and high castle walls. This second trilogy has jumped to a more wild west type setting, with the automobile just having been invented and revolvers being the weapon of choice for many characters. Against this backdrop, no longer are there Mistborn individuals (people born with the ability to derive special abilities from ingesting and then “burning” metals inside them), instead there are mistings (people able to burn only one metal), feruchemists (having the ability to store either one or multiple attributes in different metals for use when needed), and twinborns (people possession usually one allomantic/misting ability, and one feruchemist ability. Finally, there are hemalurgic abilities, based on the use of spikes and blood but they’re not as important right now.

I give all this background information, because as a huge fan of the first series I’ve started to forget from book to book exactly what all each character can do and how. The main characters Wax (a “coin shot” who can push on metals, also has the ability to control his weight) and Wayne (who can create speed bubbles and heal himself). It had been awhile since I read the first trilogy, but I didn’t recall speed bubbles from the first book. Likewise, the villain from the Alloy of Law had a double ability that allowed him to heal himself exponentially, something that worked for the Lord Ruler but seemed at odds with other characters abilities. While I really enjoy these new books as well, the fact that after I’m finished reading them I’m asking who could do what and how might speak to the system becoming over complicated.

Mistborn: Shadows of Self picks up shortly after Alloy of Law ended, with Wax, Wayne and company trying to preserve the government of the city with both **spoiler for Alloy of Law** Wax’s uncle and a new powerful villain doing what they can do disrupt the Harmony (hint, hint) of the system. While the Alloy of Law featured occasional call backs to characters from the first series (religious stories here, a spike faced cameo there) Shadows of Self is much more reliant on the reader having read the first trilogy. In particular, the existence of the immortal Kandra creatures allows for some smooth continuity between the two series.

This second series of book seems to be following the general arc of the first series, which I’m a bit concerned about heading into book three. With book one (fighting an unkillable foe), book two (civil unrest and government politics taking central stage), book three appears to be on pace for a repeat of ‘defeat the bad god.’ That’s a bit of an insult to the first trilogy, which had one of the best closing chapters I’ve ever read in terms of providing both a satisfying ending and building on everything that had come before it while also taking unpredictable twists which had been carefully set up over the first two books, but the if that’s the path it takes it’s in danger of feeling redundant. In all honesty, my biggest criticism with this follow up series is the books are too short, and could use the full world building that Sanderson did in the first set. Nitpicking aside, I’m on board for at least another one.



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