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The Magic and Mystery of Shadows of Self: A Mistborn Novel by Brandon Sanderson

Shadows of Self: A Mistborn Novel by Brandon Sanderson

If you are a fan of fantasy novels, you have probably heard of Brandon Sanderson, one of the most prolific and popular authors in the genre. And if you have heard of Brandon Sanderson, you have probably heard of his Mistborn series, one of his most acclaimed and beloved works. And if you have heard of his Mistborn series, you have probably heard of Shadows of Self, the fifth book in the series and the second book in the Wax and Wayne sub-series. But if you haven't heard of any of these things, don't worry. This article will introduce you to Shadows of Self and explain why you should read it as soon as possible.

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Introduction: What is Shadows of Self and why should you read it?

Shadows of Self is a fantasy novel that was published in 2015 by Tor Books. It is part of the Mistborn series, which is set in a world where some people have the ability to ingest metal flakes and use them to enhance their physical or mental abilities. These people are called Allomancers, and they are divided into different types depending on which metal they can burn. For example, a Coinshot can burn steel to push metal objects away from themselves, while a Soother can burn brass to calm or manipulate the emotions of others.

The Mistborn series consists of two sub-series that take place in different eras of the same world. The first sub-series is called the Original Trilogy, and it takes place in a medieval-like setting where a tyrannical god-king rules over a oppressed society. The second sub-series is called the Wax and Wayne Series, and it takes place in a industrial-like setting where technology and magic coexist in a rapidly changing society. Shadows of Self belongs to the second sub-series, and it follows the adventures of Waxillium Ladrian, a lawman-turned-nobleman who can use both Allomancy and Feruchemy (another form of magic that involves storing attributes in metal objects), and his partner Wayne, a witty and eccentric shapeshifter who can use both Feruchemy and Hemalurgy (a third form of magic that involves stealing attributes from other people by using metal spikes).

You should read Shadows of Self because it is a thrilling and captivating story that combines mystery, action, humor, romance, politics, religion, and philosophy. It explores themes such as identity, justice, morality, loyalty, and freedom. It features complex and likable characters, a rich and immersive world, a clever and unpredictable plot, and a stunning and satisfying ending. It is also a standalone novel that can be enjoyed without reading the previous books in the series, although it is recommended to do so for a better understanding of the context and the references.

Summary: A brief overview of the plot and characters of Shadows of Self

The plot of Shadows of Self revolves around a series of murders that threaten to destabilize the city of Elendel, the capital of the Elendel Basin, a region that was created by the events of the Original Trilogy. The victims are all prominent figures in the city, such as politicians, businessmen, and religious leaders. The culprit is a mysterious and elusive assassin who seems to have supernatural abilities and a personal vendetta against Waxillium Ladrian, who is now a respected lord and a member of the city's elite. Waxillium, along with Wayne and their friend Marasi, a brilliant and ambitious constable who can use Allomancy, must find and stop the assassin before he causes more chaos and violence.

The characters of Shadows of Self are diverse and dynamic, each with their own personality, background, motivation, and development. Some of the main characters are:

  • Waxillium Ladrian: The protagonist of the story, a nobleman who used to be a lawman in the Roughs, a wild and lawless region outside the Elendel Basin. He is a Twinborn, meaning he can use both Allomancy and Feruchemy. He can burn steel to push metal objects away from himself, and he can store his weight in metal bands to make himself lighter or heavier. He is also a skilled marksman and fighter. He is loyal, honorable, courageous, and compassionate, but he also struggles with guilt, doubt, grief, and anger.

  • Wayne: The deuteragonist of the story, a former thief who became Waxillium's partner and friend after Waxillium saved his life in the Roughs. He is also a Twinborn, meaning he can use both Feruchemy and Hemalurgy. He can store health in gold bracelets to heal himself or others, and he can use a metal spike to steal the ability to change his appearance. He is also adept at disguises, accents, languages, and improvisation. He is humorous, eccentric, loyal, and clever, but he also has a twisted sense of morality, a disregard for authority, and a penchant for trouble.

  • Marasi Colms: The tritagonist of the story, a constable in the Elendel Police Department who works under Waxillium's uncle, Constable-General Claude Aradel. She is an Allomancer who can burn cadmium to slow down time around herself. She is also a scholar who has studied law, history, sociology, and investiture (the term for magic in the Mistborn world). She is intelligent, ambitious, curious, and brave, but she also faces discrimination, insecurity, pressure, and expectations.

  • Steris Harms: A minor character in the story, but an important one for Waxillium's personal life. She is Waxillium's fiancee by an arranged marriage that was initially motivated by political and financial reasons. She is a noblewoman who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety. She is also meticulous, organized, pragmatic, and loyal. She has a complex and evolving relationship with Waxillium that goes from awkwardness to respect to affection.

Review: A critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Shadows of Self

Shadows of Self is widely regarded as one of the best books in the Mistborn series and one of Brandon Sanderson's finest works. It has received many positive reviews from critics and readers alike, who have praised its writing quality, storytelling skill, worldbuilding depth, character development, and thematic richness. Some of the strengths of Shadows of Self are:

  • It balances multiple genres and tones seamlessly. It is a fantasy novel that incorporates elements of mystery, action, humor, romance, politics, religion, and philosophy. It shifts from light-hearted banter to dark humor to intense drama to emotional catharsis without losing coherence or impact.

  • It expands and enriches the Mistborn world with new details, history, culture, technology, and magic. It shows how the world has changed since the Original Trilogy, and how it still faces challenges and conflicts. It introduces new concepts such as kandra (shapeshifting creatures that can mimic any living being), Faceless Immortals (agents of Harmony, the god of the Mistborn world), and Trellism (a mysterious religion that opposes Harmony).

the characters with new challenges, growth, and relationships. It explores the inner conflicts and motivations of Waxillium, Wayne, Marasi, and Steris, and how they cope with their past, present, and future. It also shows how they interact with each other and with other characters, such as MeLaan (a friendly kandra who helps them), Harmony (the god who communicates with Waxillium), and Bleeder (the antagonist who is also a kandra with a twisted agenda).

  • It delivers a compelling and surprising plot with twists and turns that keep the reader engaged and invested. It builds up suspense and mystery as Waxillium and his allies try to unravel the identity and the plan of Bleeder, who is always one step ahead of them. It also incorporates action and humor as Waxillium and Wayne use their magic and skills to fight and escape from various enemies and situations. It also provides emotional and satisfying resolutions for the main and subplots, while leaving some questions and possibilities for the next book.

  • It conveys meaningful and relevant themes that resonate with the reader and reflect on the real world. It examines issues such as justice, morality, loyalty, freedom, identity, and faith. It questions the role and responsibility of a god in a world of free will and chaos. It challenges the notions of good and evil, right and wrong, hero and villain. It explores the consequences of actions and choices, both personal and collective. It also celebrates the values of friendship, love, courage, and hope.

Shadows of Self is not without its flaws, however. Some of the weaknesses of Shadows of Self are:

  • It relies on prior knowledge of the Mistborn series to fully appreciate its context and references. While it can be read as a standalone novel, it is better to read the previous books in the series to understand the background and history of the world, the magic system, the characters, and the events that led to Shadows of Self. Some of the terms, concepts, names, and scenes may be confusing or unfamiliar to new readers who have not read the Original Trilogy or Alloy of Law (the first book in the Wax and Wayne Series).

  • It suffers from some pacing issues and information dumps that may slow down or disrupt the flow of the story. While it is generally well-written and well-structured, there are some parts that drag on or feel unnecessary. For example, some of the scenes that involve politics or religion may be boring or tedious to some readers who are more interested in the action or mystery aspects of the story. Some of the exposition or dialogue may also be too long or too detailed, especially when explaining the history or mechanics of the world or the magic.

  • It leaves some loose ends and unanswered questions that may frustrate or disappoint some readers who expect a more complete or conclusive ending. While it wraps up most of the main and subplots satisfactorily, it also sets up some mysteries and cliffhangers for the next book. For example, it does not reveal who or what Trell is, what his motives are, or how he is connected to Bleeder. It also does not explain how Bleeder obtained her metal spikes or why she chose her targets. It also ends with a shocking revelation that changes everything for Waxillium and his allies.

The Mistborn Series: A Fantasy Epic by Brandon Sanderson

Shadows of Self is part of the Mistborn series, a fantasy epic by Brandon Sanderson that spans multiple books, eras, and genres. The Mistborn series is one of Brandon Sanderson's most popular and acclaimed works, and it has sold millions of copies worldwide. It has also been adapted into graphic novels, video games, and board games, and it is planned to be adapted into a live-action movie or TV series in the future.

Background: How the Mistborn series started and what it is about