So you know how you’re reading one book and you think you know all about it and then BAM IT’S ANOTHER BOOK AND WHAT IS HAPPENING EVEN? And then you’re like, ohhhhh shiiiiiit. This book. This one right here.
Honestly, I should know better by now. After I finish up Bands of Mourning, I’m sure in rather short order, the only books of Brandon Sanderson’s I won’t have read will be the Alcatraz books. I’m used to his tricks. And still. I thought I had this book pegged. Hahahaha NOPE.
So Shadows of Self picks up a year after Alloy of Law. Wax (and Wayne, of course, on top form) is doing his lawkeeper from the Roughs thing all across the city. He’s determined to bring down the shadow conspiracy calling itself the Set, and he’s pissing off a lot of people along the way. Meanwhile, the city is increasingly in a state of unrest. Food shortages, worker’s strikes prompted by terrible working conditions (a legacy of the changes that come with an industrial revolution), and religious unrest are all fomenting. And then a series of brutal and terrifying murders targeting public figures make it clear that a dangerous Feruchemist with an agenda has taken up residence. What follows is a madcap series of adventures through the city as Wax, Wayne and Marasi try to unravel the confusing and complex actions of their suspect.
Everything about this book worked for me. The characters all have great arcs, even Wayne, who is so wonderfully eccentric as a character that he’s in constant danger of slipping into a caricature. But Sanderson walks the fine line, and gives Wayne more of a firm ground to stand on in this one. We get much more into his head here, why he is the way that he is. He also gets all the best lines. Sanderson also uses his main character so effectively, giving him great emotional and physical conflicts, allowing him to triumph, and then tearing him down. He also uses the other POV characters to shed light on Wax’s flaws, giving him even more of a chance to grow. And Marasi is just perfection.
Shadows of Self takes the world and characters introduced in Alloy of Law and says, Okay, you liked that? Now watch me turn it up to 11. I can see the final two books in this series going to epic places.
Now please excuse me while I go start Bands of Mourning immediately.