I literally just finished reading The Bands of Mourning, and I’m at a loss for what else I could possibly do besides talk about this book, RIGHT NOW!
Now, I realize not everyone can read with the fervor I did, so if you’re not finished yet, and don’t want to be spoiled (and you don’t), then turn back now. No one will blame you.
After his wedding is sabotaged by a tumbling water tower Wax and Friends find themselves on a sort of Archaeological expedition, hunting down the fabled Bands of Mourning. They’re said to be the Lord Ruler’s bracers (bracers being the metal forearm bands that store Feruchemical ability).
Ok, I just realized that, unless you’re pretty well versed in your Mistborn lore, this is going to get confusing.
Anyway, the Kandra tried to get Wax to hunt down Mr. Suit (Wax’s Uncle, and the main villain of the series so far) in order to retrieve one of their brother’s Hemalurgic spikes. That’s the deal-y that grants sentience to the Kandra. ReLuur lost his when he was attacked by the Set, the folks Mr. Suit works for, after discovering the lost temple of the Lord Ruler. Insane and rambling without his spike, ReLuur is less than useful in providing information that could lead the Kandra to either his spike or the temple.
But, since the events of the last book, Wax is less than amenable to the whims of the Kandra or Harmony. He staunchly refuses, and so they turn to Marasi. Which really isn’t fair, because she of course says yes, which of course means Wax and Wayne are going too. Damn, sneaky Kandra.
So, Wax ends up traveling with Marasi to New Seran. Which means that Wayne, MeLaan, and Steris all went too. Which was nice. A nice big group on an even bigger adventure!
This book only spends a very small amount of time in Elendel, and focuses mainly on the Southern reaches of the Basin. New territory for the series thus far, and very interesting to see. While New Seran itself was charming, and place I’d love to see explored further, Wax and Co. don’t linger long. As endearing as a town built on a series of waterfalls is, it’s pretty hard to sight-see when you’ve been framed for murder.
Poor Wax can never just enjoy himself…
So the group flees in the night, heading Northeast toward the last known whereabouts of Mr. Suit. But what they find there isn’t Wax’s Uncle, but something far more interesting. And world-shattering.
Hidden in a remote warehouse, the Set is working on refurbishing a humongous ship. But Dulsing, the village the Set commandeered, is as landlocked as they come. Well, as the gang soon discovers, this is no ordinary ship. It doesn’t need water, seeing as it flies. And how does it do that?
Why, with Allomancy, of course!
So, after a wild gunfight, Wax and Friends load onto the ship, adding Wax’s sister Telsin to their company, as well as a man named Aliik. He’s a “Southerner”, someone who lives outside of the Basin, and it’s his people’s ship they’re stealing.
Now, a moment to discuss Aliik and just how crucial he is. While his understanding of Allomancy and Feruchemy are unique, showing that the Southerners view The Metallic Arts quite differently than those in the Basin, he’s much more important than that. Aliik’s very existence pulls the entire understanding of Scadrial into question. Wax and Marasi feel this most keenly, being the most intellectual ones of the group. There’s an entire race of folks whose entire history and customs are different than their own. And they have their own technologies and religions. This is incredibly important and mind-bending stuff for the people of the Elendel Basin. The ramifications don’t really get explored here, but by the end of the novel, it’s plain it’ll come up in the next book.
Ahem, back to the topic at hand. So, they fly away, and though it’d probably be best to head back to Elendel and get reinforcements, there’s not really time. So they fly straight to the mountaintop temple thanks to Aliik and Telsin’s knowledge after being held captive by Mr. Suit and Co.
They get there first, just barely, and proceed through various booby-traps to get to the chamber where the Bracers should be. Except they’re not there. And they never were.
This is where the avalanche happens. Not a literal avalanche, although that was likely, seeing as they’re on top of a frigging mountain. I’m speaking of the Sanderson Avalanche. That wondrous whirlwind of plot points and details, where everything you thought you understood comes together in ways you never could have imagined.
As usual, Sanderson’s novel took a turn that blew my mind, and had me screaming as I read along. Characters are tested, and thus do things you didn’t think them capable of. Wayne in particular has such a moment, and I was at once proud and utterly heartbroken for him.
In fact, looking back, this is a very transformative story for Wayne. He grows a lot, and in ways I wouldn’t have expected. Seeing as he’s my favorite character, possibly of all time, this was an emotional story for me.
Anyway, I don’t want to spoil the avalanche. That’s just asking for bad juju. And if you think the avalanche was mind blowing, just wait for the epilogue. It basically takes everything you think you know about the Mistborn series and says, “There’s always another secret.”
So, some points that aren’t spoiler related. Things I can talk freely about. This book was back in the swing of a high-action, Wild West train ride. The Bands of Mourning felt much more like The Alloy of Law. It was fast-paced, fun, and full of great banter and character interactions. There were tender moments, and much more crassness than I remember in the first two. It was just an incredibly fun book. Unlike Shadows of Self, which was straightforward, very dark, and soul-searching.
And The Bands of Mourning sets the tone for the final book in this series, The Lost Metal. As Sanderson calls it in his Postscript, “The epic finale of Mistborn: Era 2“. I guess that’s the official title for the Wayne and Wax books, now.
Another thing, this book is incredibly lore heavy. I remember thinking that Shadows of Self was a sharp swerve from the episodic and casual manner of The Alloy of Law, instead delving into the depths of Scadrial’s history and legends. Well, The Bands of Mourning makes Shadows look more like the kiddie pool. Events from the original Mistborn trilogy aren’t just mentioned, they’re critical to the plot and continue to be fleshed out. By the end of this book, things I thought were fact at the end of the original trilogy are now entirely up in the air.
Which is where Mistborn: Secret History comes in. What’s this, you ask? Why, a novella that Sanderson is releasing, via ebook only, on Saturday. He didn’t announce it until Bands released, and he added a warning. That, though this novella is set during the original trilogy, it does contain spoilers for The Bands of Mourning.
Basically, I ordered it immediately, and am now so grateful. If I had to wait a whole year (or more) to get any sort of answers after that epilogue, I would be about as sensible as ReLuur sans spike.
So, all in all, I adored this book. It was a return to the tone and pace that made The Alloy of Law my favorite book. Although I think I can safely say that The Bands of Mourning has usurped its predecessors in that regard. That wild west roller coaster feeling, where every page promises some new development. The faith that Wax can solve every problem, even if we’re not sure how he’ll do it just yet. And in this book, Wax’s decimated heart is rejuvenated. Watching him rise above such anger and loathing was really satisfying for me, especially since the last book had such a powerful effect on my emotions.
So hurry up and get caught up already!