Monday, October 12, 2015

Book Review: Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

*** This is the second in a series that is really the fifth book in a series. If you haven't read Mistborn proceed with caution. Also what is taking you so long? It is seriously flawless. Read this review and then read the series****

Title: Shadows of Self
Series: Mistborn #5 (Wax and Wayne #2)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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.

I'm not sure I can effectively articulate just how brilliant this book was. Last year was my year of Sanderson. I read eight of his books in 2014, including the Mistborn series, and loved them all. I mean I talk about Mistborn all the time it makes practically all me Top Ten lists and they're probably my most photographed books on my Instagram. So it should come as no surprise that the next book in this series was one of my most anticipated books of the year. And once again Brandon Sanderson blew me away with the world, the plot development, the themes, and the characters.

Starting this book was like returning to something so familiar and so different and unique at the same time. That can best be explained by my feelings of the characters of this book. One of the reasons I love the Mistborn series and Sanderson in general is that he is so brilliant at creating complex and likable characters. And quickly into reading I was reminded just how much I love the characters here. I absolutely adore Wax and Wayne. They are the perfect team. They are both intelligent, resourceful, great at solving mysteries, and tough in the face of danger but their personalities could not be more different. Wax a little serious and sullen while Wayne is funny and effervescent. They play off of each other and make the other person better. Marasi is also back and it seems like some of her quirkiness is gone but I still really liked her. She was off-set a lot by a new female character who is really interesting and adds a lot to their team of crime fighters. But what I also loved about Shadows of Self is that there was so many references to characters from the first series. This book definitely felt like it was bridging the gap between the old and the new with what we learned about the connection between the characters we know and love from both series. We learned so much more about all of both casts and how they are connected. The cameos and references to characters in the first series really added a lot to my enjoyment of it.

But that's what Sanderson does, he builds on what is already there and establishing something better. Especially with the world building. I love series where there is a history and a mythology as the basic for the world. What's so interesting here is that mythology is the previous series which I read and loved. It makes for almost an immersive experience. It's like you're a character too or at very least you have the same knowledge of the world as they do. It sounds like such a weird thing to say but it felt like this book was written for fans of the first series. Plus I have I have always loved the magical system here. The fact that it combines a hereditary ability and something physical, plus the variety of powers, and the fact their basically like superpowers. And here Sanderson once again gave me that magic and more. With every book he builds more and more on the established world. Sometimes he does it by adding something that better explains or develops a concept and sometimes it's elaborating and explaining things that have been there. Here we got to learn a lot more about Feruchemy and Hemalurgy. We also get to spend more time learning about some of the other creatures and cultures found within this world. With some series I when I'm finished reading it I spend hours, maybe days, falling down the internet rabbit hole that is theories and explanations about characters, events, and parts of the world. That is exactly what happened here. I was looking things and people up because I needed to know more, to find out more. I didn't think this world could get more interesting and complex but it continues to blow me away with just how intricate and interesting it is.

But the thing about the world that is the most interesting is the combination of religion and political intrigue. The way that the first book ended completely changed the world. It established two new religions, a new government, it shattered the old order. Now after years of relative prosperity and peace that is changing. So in this book there is a lot of discussion about power and control but from so many different angles. It's such a complex story. Sanderson has been the kind of fantasy writer who makes me think about human nature while entertaining me at the same time and he once again proved that with Shadows of Self. But I think my favorite part of that discussion is that it included references to characters from the first series. There were a few subtle ones in The Alloy of Law but here a few characters were a big part of the plot.

Speaking of that plot what an absolutely fantastic one. The first book in this series was much more of a standard mystery/heist kind of story. And while Shadows of Self had those elements it felt a little bit more like a traditional kind of fantasy. But of course it had tons of mystery. Sanderson has always been the kind of author who shocks me with his plot twists. I try to figure it out but I never do completely. Here I thought I had it. I was so proud of myself for solving the mystery but as our Sanderson Army shirts say, "there's always another secret." And so I once again found myself getting to the climax and being completely floored by the big reveal. But things were so perfectly paced here. It all built to that conclusion slowly but purposefully revealing the next piece of the puzzle to get you to the climax. But along the way of course there was tons of action and adventure to keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat.

Sanderson once again created a book that left me blown away with characters to fall in love with, a complex world with a great magical system and themes about humanity, plus a plot full of mystery and adventure. I am now in desperate need of the next book and falling more and more in love with this series which I never thought possible.

I give Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson 10 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! Mistborn fans will not be disappointed. This is an amazing and brilliant continuation of the series that we know and love. I can't wait to see where things go in the next two books but I know one thing for sure, I am once again hopelessly in love with the magic, mystery, and creativity that is a Brandon Sanderson book.

Have you read Shadows of Self? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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