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Book review: 'Shadow of Self' explores fantastical elements, societal issues of Mistborn world


September 28, 2015

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"SHADOWS OF SELF: Mistborn, Vol. 5," by Brandon Sanderson, Tor Books, $27.99, 384 pages (f)

Brandon Sanderson delivers a second book in the steampunk addition to the Mistborn series, which continues to delve into the fascinating fantastical elements and societal issues of the world Scadrial.

"Shadows of Self" picks up with noble Waxillium Ladrian facing his future, including his upcoming marriage, and struggling with his past as he keeps on seeing the man who is responsible for his former love's death. All the while, he and Wayne, his disguise-loving sidekick, and Marasi Colms, the bright, new constable, are tracking down the murderer responsible for some especially grisly and chilling murders. On top of that, the city of Elendel is teeming with unrest between the government and the working class.

Just as in "The Alloy of Law," the first in this trilogy that fans have called the first "Wax and Wayne" novel, it's fun to read how the events and characters of the first Mistborn trilogy have turned into mythology as this novel picks up 300 years later, and how more modern technology fits into the world.

However, at times, technologies and moral laws distract from the story, making it feel like alternative-universe Earth with Allomancy instead of a planet in its own right.

While readers may catch the references to Vin, Sazed, Elend, Marsh and Kelsier, they may want a refresher of the newer characters. At the same time, it's not necessary as Sanderson does a good job of reintroducing the characters and catching the reader up to speed from "The Alloy of Law," which was published in 2012.

Sanderson excels at writing solid character relationships, which are often hilarious, especially with the comedic timing between Wax and Wayne.

The story is diverting and a quick jaunt compared to some of Sanderson's more lengthy novels. But just because it's shorter doesn't mean that heavy topics aren't explored — Wax's relationship with his god and faith, while in a fantasy setting, is a struggle one can relate with.

There are brief graphic descriptions of crime scenes and some violence as well as some suggestive and crude comments.

The sixth book, "Bands of Mourning," is scheduled to be released in January.

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