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In the original epic fantasy trilogy, “Mistborn,” we were introduced to a roughly eighteen or early nineteenth century dystopian world called Scadrial. It is a world separated into two classes; the nobility and the commoners, called the Skaa. The world has several magic systems the most prominent called Allomancy. Allomancy allows users to gain magical powers by swallowing and "burning" specific metals. These users manifest in two forms: those who can use one of the Allomantic powers, known as Mistings; and those who can use all of the Allomantic powers, known as Mistborn. It was a complex world where the lower class struggled under the subjection of the nobility and the rise of several heroes that attempt to topple the current state of oppression.
Three hundred years later, after the hero’s in the first three books had become myths and legends, “The Alloy of Law,” began and we were introduced to Waxillium Ladrian, known as Wax, hereditary Lord of House Ladrian but also a lawman in the ungoverned frontier region known as the Roughs and a rare “Twin born;” someone that can use two Allomantic powers. In “The Allow of Law,” the world of Scadrial was on the verge of modernization with railroads and electric lights but the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continued to play a role in the re-born world. This was originally intended as a standalone book but now Brandon Sanderson has decided on a double trilogy; yes.
Now “Shadow of Self,” continues to follow Wax and his friends. They are now out of the Roughs and back into the urban city. The society is evolving as technology and magic blend. It is a growing democratic civilization with an optimistic economy that is suddenly confronted with urban terrorism and a conspiracy to stop Scadrial’s progress in its tracks. Wax and his friends must find the culprits responsible before the entire society collapses.
About the narrator; of course Michael Kramer’s performance is spectacular.
This series is one of my favorite ever and am looking forward to the next, and final, book.
35 of 40 people found this review helpful
I enjoy Sanderson's work, but have repeatedly been a bit perplexed by the many parallels between the various novels and series that he writes - the magic systems, religions, and plots in books ranging from Mistborn to Elantris to the Stormlight Archive share many common aspects. For those who don't know, it is because most of Sanderson's books share a common universe, the "Cosmere" consisting of a variety of planets and a complex narrative of gods and powers. With each novel, he draws a little more of the universe and the overarching mega-plot that will apparently take 10+ more books to resolve.
Why tell you all this? Because Shadows of Self is the first Sanderson book that I felt required understanding a bit about the Cosmere, and the various powers at work in its complex multiple worlds. It isn't that it is a weak story - I really enjoyed it, and Sanderson can write like nobody's business (though he continues to be pretty squeamish about anything having to do with sex). Rather, many of the key twists were more interesting in the context of the overall universe than in the series itself. You don't need to immerse yourself in the various Wikis and articles on the Cosmere universe, but it does help in parsing an increasingly complex magic system and history.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed Shadows of Self, especially the absolutely terrific banter between the main characters. Even if you don't look at the wider universe, you will still be able to enjoy the adventure.
12 of 14 people found this review helpful