Book Review: Shadows of Self

Shadows of Self (Mistborn, #5)Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was in Brandon’s writing group back in the day when he was originally drafting Mistborn. As such, I never really got a chance to read the series the way most people have. I saw it stretched out over months, as we tackled a chapter or so a week. That’s how I read half of the first and all of the second and third books in the series. To this day, I still haven’t sat down and read the final versions of the second and third books. (I own them. Maybe I should get around to doing that. The thing is, I talked about those books and the ideas behind them with Brandon and other writing group members for years. I’m much more familiar with them than I am with any other book I’ve just read once. It’s the same reason I typically don’t reread books of my own once they’re finished. It’s hard to approach them fresh and get the same enjoyment out of them, even though I love them.)

So it’s a blast for me to be able to read new Mistborn books the same way everyone else does: all at once, after they’re all polished and shiny. Shadows of Self is a fantastic outing in the Mistborn world that Alloy of Law explored. More than that, it’s a great book in its own right, and the start of a new Mistborn trilogy.

One thing Brandon has always done extremely well is plotting and being able to chest his cards until the right moment. He’ll leave tidbits and hints peppered throughout books, and sometimes those hints don’t make sense until multiple books have gone by. That’s what Shadows of Self felt like to me: the pay off of some setups Brandon had hidden way back when. It’s the sort of book that makes you want to re-read earlier books, just because it’s changed the way you view those earlier books.

And somehow, he never fails to surprise me. There are things in this book that I didn’t see coming. Things set up long before. Very nicely done.

What’s it about? The book traces the conflict and struggles of a large city in a wild west setting. A city on the brink of rebellion and anarchy. There are huge class struggles and corruption in the government, and it’s up to one law man to solve a mystery, find a killer, and bring everything to a happy ending. What does he have available to get the job done? Quick wits, six shooters, and some killer magic.

Will you like the novel? If you’re a Sanderson fan, then of course you will. That’s a no brainer. If you’ve never read a Sanderson book, the good news is this is a great place to start. It’s the beginning of a series, and it’s a fast paced book that I think should make sense regardless of whether you’ve read the earlier Mistborn books or not. Better yet, it’s so different from typical fantasy. Hard magic in the wild west? How can you not like that?

In any case, do check this one out. It’s a fast read and a lot of fun.

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