Shadows of Self // Review and Discussion


Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5) by Brandon Sanderson, Published by Tor, Borrowed from the Library.

Mistborn’s bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self dug deeper into everything Alloy of Law introduced, painting a bigger picture and making me love all of the characters even more.

“If what you say is true, then all lawmen are predators.” 151

Shadows of Self was just, wow. There was so much more of everything, and there were lots of parts that just had me saying “whhaaaat??” There were also a lot of parts that had me cracking up, and a few that had me shocked and numb and sad… (second books in Brandon Sanderson trilogies, am I right? *ahem*) There were so many great things about this book, and if you liked the Mistborn trilogy you definitely need to read this second era. Actually, even if you haven’t read the first Mistborn trilogy, you should read Alloy of Law and then pick up this second book. Really. Do it. It’s so great and cool and intense and fun.

Shadows of Self instagram

“You think everyone is hiding something.” 233

One of the best things in this book was character development and backstory. Character backstory is one of my favorite things and Shadows of Self was filled with so much beautiful, sorrowful backstory. Of course, Wax and Wayne and Marasi were already well formed and nuanced characters in the first book, but Shadows of Self really showed what made them tick. There were so many character defining moments that I loved. Character development is just <333

I especially loved all the extra scenes with Wayne. He has all the best jokes and one liners, and he is just so wonderfully odd. There is definitely some pain there but he is such a hilarious guy. He may be my favorite character, actually.

Already I fear I have made things too easy for men.” 134

Beyond just development of characters, the book went much further into the culture and the customs of this second Mistborn era, and how and why those customs came to be. One of my favorite parts of the first Wax and Wayne book was reading how the world had grown and changed since the Hero of Ages, and there was so much more of that in this second book. There were also FAR MORE cameos of characters from the original trilogy and I was SO happy about that.

The plot in this book had a much wider scope. It had many more ramifications for the whole world. Many more questions are raised and many elements barely brushed upon in the first book are brought to light. As the second in a trilogy Shadows of Self had a very intense build, which makes me both very excited and very very scared for the third book.

“All part of Harmony’s plan. All actors on a stage. That’s what you are too, Waxillium Ladrian. It’s what all men are.” 170

Along with the overall plot having a wider scope, Shadows of Self had Wax and co. fighting a much different enemy. One that forces him to figure out very different strategies and methods. That was a very great twist on the story, and helped make this book not feel like a repeat of the first one at all.

“How did you fight mythology with a microscope?” 254

Unfortunately, what this book gained in depth and worldbuilding, it lost in action. Shadows of Self was certainly tense, but it didn’t have the fast paced fight scenes and chases of the first book. Then again, I read this book in one day, so it must have done something right in the pacing and adictability column.

There are so many reasons to read this book. Great worldbuilding, lovely characters, tense mystery… Basically, just read it. You can thank me later.


Now I’m going to discuss this book in full spoiler mode! If you haven’t read this book, scroll no further!

First of all, let’s talk about one of the most astonishing parts of Shadows of Self. It made me like Steris. (Yup. Just let that sink in.)

Now, it’s not like I hated Steris or anything. I felt pretty neutral about her in book one. At the ending I honestly felt Wax should just not marry either of them. That is, keep working on mysteries with Marasi but just remain a bachelor. Do whatever. Marrying Steris just didn’t seem like a good idea.

But, that ball scene in this book… (It’s always the ball scenes) Steris was just great. I loved how she wrote Wax flying them up to the party into her agenda, and through that whole scene she was funny and helpful and seemed to actually get the whole crime fighting thing, and was actually enjoying it. Let’s keep this Steris around, okay?

“8:17. Way into the building likely blocked by traffic. Lord Waxilium carries us up to the top floor by Allomancy, which is completely inappropriate and at the same time breathtaking.” 149

The backstory is this book too, ugggghhhh yes.

Let’s start with Wax. For one, I wondered where the Terris stuff would come in and there it was. The whole village thing is just fascinating. Also, really sad. And then there was the scene where young Wax was brought to the bank by his uncle, saw what he was going to do with the lower class people, and then tried to save that one man from being a slave to enormous bank debt… It didn’t work out, but aww baby Wax trying to save people already. I just want to cry. With all of that, no wonder he left Elendel.

Then there’s Wayne. Oh dear Wayne. He likes making jokes and everything, but humor is so obviously a coping method for him. It’s so sad how he goes to deliver that money himself to the family of the man he killed. He feels so guilty that he can’t hold a gun, and then in the ball when the one inventor’s daughter (she’s gonna be important later right?) mistook him for the man who wronged her father and he’s just standing there saying, “she said I killed her daddy…” Oh man. Wayne needs a hug or something.

We also had more of a look at Marasi, which was interesting. It was mostly about her job and how she is treated having been promoted so quickly and being friends with Wax, and it was kind of disappointing to me how much things revolved around him? It makes sense that the other constables would relate them and I guess in that way I feel a lot like Marasi herself does, but ugh c’mon people.

Probably the most important and interesting part of Marasi trying to figure out her place on the force was her realization about how much trouble Wax made for the constables.

“Waxillium was trouble. A worthwhile trouble, as he did get things done, but almost as bad as the problems he solved. But for that brief moment he seemed less like an ally and more like a storm that you had to prepare for and clean up after.” 209

You know what I loved about this book? ALL the references to the original trilogy and ALL the character cameos. Oh my gosh I was freaking out so much and smiling at all the little details that were mentioned. I feel like there weren’t near so many references in Alloy of Law and then in Shadows of Self we got SO MANY. Plus a lot of it was actually a major part of the plot of the book!

For one, Waxilium directly talking to Sazed Harmony! Like some of it was a bad thing I suppose but yes yes yes I missed Sazed. And then the Kandra! Kandra were my favorite magical (hemalurgic I guess) creatures in the first books and it was SO COOL that they had a major part in this book. MeLaan was a fabulous character and then we got to see TenSoon eeeee yes!

No but really, I loved MeLaan. She was hilarious and interacted so well with everyone else.

“That’s the thing about having an eternity, kid. It gets really easy to procrastinate.” 237

Wayne and MeLaan interacting especially. For one, they got to bond over all the impersonating and accent thing, which was great.

“Getting a good accent was like mixing a paint to match one already on the wall.” 167

One scene I especially liked was when Wayne and MeLaan meet in the bar, where Wayne modifies everyone drinks and makes them happy (aww) and then Marasi and Wax catch up to them and then they all start building towers out of coasters. They are such idiots I swear.

Other references… Well there is, “Wax had known more than a few Cetts in his time. He’d never gotten along with any of them.” 232 Which is just hilarious, considering Ladrian and Cett… Allrianne and Breeze… Then again, I have no idea how the house relations figure out. I have a lot of questions related to that kind of thing… What are everyone’s exact family trees? Do Allomancers still have to snap? If so, do they have to try using all 16 metals then? They have name for Aluminum/Duralumin mistings, does that mean they have a way to figure out if people can use those metals? Do people with Terris heritage just try on bracers of every kind of metal? I will probably not get these answers but I want details about EVERYTHING.

“So much metal that made the framework for the lives of men and women. They were the flesh of civilization, and steel was now it’s skeleton.” 173

I think some of the most telling parts of the book were Waxilium’s conversations with Bleeder. The conversation at the ball was really interesting, “The strike of lightning is not a hero. The earthquake is not a hero. These things simply exist.” 173 but I think the best was the conversation in chapter sixteen when Wax is standing outside of the governor’s mansion right before she attacks. That’s where we really see how much she knows him.

“That’s a fun lie. Do you tell that one at parties to youths who’ve read too many stories about the roughs? The don’t like hearing about interrogating the family members of a man gone bad? Tracking down gunsmiths to see who fixed an outlaw’s rifle?” 260

I did not manage to figure out that Bleeder had disguised herself as the governor. I was surprised about that one and it was a very good twist. It’s so great how Wayne figured it out first all based on the accent! Not so great that he got injured and tied up, but, well.

I figured out that Bleeder had been Lessie’s while Wax was talking to TenSoon. I had my suspicions about Lessie or Lessie’s killer not being dead, and later I figured one of them was probably a kandra, so the ending didn’t come as a total shock to me. The most shocking thing to me is I really thought someone major might die, and in a way someone did, but… Yeah. It was still all very sad. Poor Wax.

“We’re all so fragile, when you consider it. One little thing goes wrong, and we break.” 368