Book Review- Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Now, if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know I am a Brandon Sanderson fan. Like, the foaming at the mouth, squealing uncontrollably variety.

Me when someone mentions Sanderson.
Me when someone mentions Sanderson.

Anyway, Sanderson just released Shadows of Self on October 6th, which I’ve been counting down to ever since he announced it back in December of last year. Again, if you’ve been reading along, I’ve talked at length about The Alloy of Law, and it’s probably my favorite book of my adult life. Shadows of Self is the sequel, which I’ve waited four years for.

Brandon toured in support of the release, and he made a stop in Portland, so like any good fangirl, I requested the night off work and drove my happy ass on up.

Shadows of Self Release

As usual at these things, I met all kinds of people, some of them calm and nice, and just a little nerdy. Others… well, they are deeply entrenched in this fandom, same as me, but man are they vocal about it! It’s always fun to eavesdrop on the overflowing enthusiasm of these folks, and me and the fellow seated next to me giggled a lot.

Brandon talked a bit, and gave a really nice lecture about the power of fiction to cross distances, time, and cultures to give people something in common. In short, about fiction’s ability to bring people together. He spoke about nerdom’s recent trend of exclusion, and how quick we are to judge someone’s nerd level, and how eager we can be to find them lacking. He spoke against it, begged us to be more inclusive. And I gotta say, Sandersonites (yes, that’s how we refer to ourselves) are one inclusive bunch. We desperately want people to read Sanderson, we brag about him to any and everyone. And we’re more than happy to educate others on the intricacies of the Cosmere. And once we’re all on the same page, we start theorizing wildly!

Then he answered some questions, which I rarely participate in, mainly because I can never think of a question good enough. And then he read a chapter from the next Stormlight book, and I grinned the entire time! I am so excited for that book! Then came the signing, which took a while, so I read while I waited.

And then this magic happened:

And of course I tweeted all of these things, and Brandon even retweeted a couple of them. So, needless to say, I was in fangirl heaven for the next 24 hours or so.

Now, on to the actual review! As per usual, there are massive spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk!

So, the book opens about a year after the events of The Alloy of Law. Marasi finished her schooling, but left her solicitor dreams behind to work in Elendel’s constabulary. She was hired on at a fairly high level, which has definitely stepped on a few toes in the precinct. But, she’s holding her own and proving her worth.

Wayne moved in to Wax’s mansion, where he proves to be a consistent, and much loved, pain in the ass.

Wax has been made an honorary constable, which allows him to continue his detective shenanigans, and keep him occupied while Steris continues to plan the wedding.

Yes, that’s still a thing. I hated Steris at the end of The Alloy of Law, but by the end of this book, I saw her in a totally different light, and I actually really like her.

Now, Alloy felt fairly episodic. Though it referenced from and drew heavily on the Mistborn trilogy, it was it’s own stand alone story. And that was how Sanderson originally intended it. But, as Wax’s story continues, Shadows suddenly becomes a very “Cosmere” story. If you haven’t read the original Mistborn trilogy, much of Shadows won’t make sense. The Kandra feature heavily in this story, and beloved characters from the original trilogy make an appearance in this novel.

Which was awesome! And now I want a SoonieCub so bad! (A stuffed animal based on the character in Shadows).

Anyway, Wax and company discover that there’s a plot against the Governor of Elendel, and they endeavor to save him from a homicidal kandra.

Now, about kandra. They’re immortal shapeshifters, which makes finding and killing them damn near impossible. So this book is full of brutal gunfights, insane Allomantic battles, and a ton of suspicion, paranoia, and plot twists.

Shadows wasn’t so much the wild train ride that Alloy was, and it’s actually a really heavy story. Wax’s faith in Harmony gets thoroughly rattled, if not completely obliterated. And by the end of the book, I didn’t even blame him.

Side note: it’s really strange to witness a character that was so wise and kind in one series intentionally hurt a beloved character in another one. My love for them conflicts, and my logical brain tells me that Sazed/Harmony wouldn’t do this to Wax if there was any other way. In a really strange turn of fictional events, I just need to have faith.

Now, there is a HUGE spoiler at the end of this novel. Like, just this monstrously awful thing that’s sort of gnawing away at my soul, even now. I’m not going to talk about it here, because it’s that big, and because it physically hurts me to think about it too much. To the point where, when I finished the novel last night, this happened:

All in all, I adored this book. I fully intend to reread Alloy and Shadows, because the second read through always reveals something new. As Kelsier said, “there’s always another secret”. I’m betting Shadows has a few more I can figure out before Bands of Mourning releases in January.

And you better believe I am counting down to that release!
Wax and Wayne (Mistborn)

Thanks, as usual, for getting this far. I highly recommend this book, but you will need to do your background reading first, or else it’s just going to be a REALLY steep learning curve.

The Book Club meets tomorrow night to discuss The Perks of Being a Wallflower, so you’ll hopefully hear from me sooner than later!