[REVIEW] Shadows of Self – Brandon Sanderson

Characters – 4/5
Plot – 5/5
Style – 4/5
World building – 4/5
Overall – 4/5

“To the eyes of a man burning steel, Elendel was alight and full of motion, even while shadowed by darkness and mist. Metal. In some ways, that was the true mark of mankind. Man tamed the stones, the bones of the earth below. Man tamed the fire, that ephemeral, consuming soul of life. And combining the two, he drew forth the marrow of the rocks themselves, then made molten tools.”

SHADOWS OF SELF sees the return of Waxillium Ladrian, trying to balance his responsibilities as a lord and a lawman. When the Governor’s brother is murdered whilst hosting the cities corrupt noblemen and women, Wax is quickly drawn into the investigation. With the city falling apart and the killer always preternaturally one step ahead, Wax is forced to come uncomfortably close to accepting the possibility that this is one case he simply can’t handle.

In the same style as ALLOY OF LAW, Wax ends up once again drawn into a tangled mess of crimes, mysteries and thrilling experiences. There is a distinctly Wild West feel to these Era 2 novels that widens the genre and brings a completely new aspect to the fantasy landscape. I really enjoyed this crossover and as a reader who usually avoids crime and thrillers, this sideways introduction might encourage me to give some of the more traditional novels in this genre a try.

My absolute favourite features of the Wax and Wayne novels are the subtle nods to the original trilogy. While ALLOW OF LAW and SHADOWS OF SELF can both be appreciated without having read the Mistborn books, Wax’s thrill being at one with the mists is so beautifully aligned with my memories of the first novels. It’s incredibly nostalgic to read about the religions dedicated to serving Kelsier, Vin and Sazed as well as revisiting old places with new characters.

As what is essentially the fifth book of a series, at first SHADOWS OF SELF doesn’t seem to have much scope for building on an already well established world. But, of course, this is Brandon Sanderson we’re talking about. Taking on the industrial boom of Scadrial, where Kelsier and Vin once raced through Elendel’s streets in darkness, Wax now flies above motorcars and electric lights. It’s amazing to see such a familiar world through fresh eyes and I loved getting to know this newly developed Scadrial 300 years after the main events. Even since ALLOY OF LAW there has been rapid development in weapons and transport; this world is vibrant and free from the ashes that plagued Vin’s era.

The new characters continue to develop and I’ve really grown to like the determined Marasi more and more throughout these novels. She has just the right amount of impatience and tempestuousness thrown in with her intelligent and determined demeanour. Wax continues to be brilliant and terrible in equal measure, making reckless decisions that both serve his pride and protect his people.

We see the return of some huge characters and creatures from the Mistborn trilogy to shake the plot up and I’m very excited to see where Brandon takes the future books. The twists were just that little bit more sophisticated, complete with a truly unpredictable and devious villain, and the pace is pitched perfectly, keeping the narrative steaming ahead straight into a shattering conclusion. Dropping some serious bombshells towards the end, it’s clear that Wax, Wayne and Marasi definitely have a lot of story left to tell.

I received SHADOWS OF SELF from Orion in exchange for an honest review. My reviews always represent my own opinion.

[REVIEW] Draykon – Charlotte E. English

Characters – 4/5
Plot – 4/5
World Building – 5/5
Style – 4/5
Overall – 4/5

In a Tweet
“Jeweller unearths a gem people will die for, gates to other worlds mysteriously open and the biggest danger imaginable threatens the realm.”

A clever combination of mystery, fantasy and adventure, DRAYKON is the first novel in the eBook trilogy by Charlotte E. English. Following two female protagonists, talented but anxious Llandry Sanfaer and the experienced High Summoner Lady Evastany Glostrum, DRAYKON threw me into a vivid world complete with its own plants, creatures and history.

When Llandry stumbles upon a cave filled with the beautiful but mysterious gemstone istore, demand for her jewellery begins to unexpectedly soar. Overwhelmed by the unexplainable fervour surrounding her work and horrified by the gruesome deaths beginning to be linked to her pieces, Llandry is instructed to stop trading and hand over any remaining istore.

As High Summoner, Eva takes it upon herself to investigate the deaths and randomly opening gates to other Realms, but as her search grows deeper and more complex she discovers much more than she was ever anticipating.

English writes with a careful flair, she knows exactly how to build stunning scenery and her characters are well developed and likeable. The two point of view characters are very different from the stereotypical fantasy heroines; Llandry is young but not inexplicably special or strong while Eva is older, capable and sensible.

I was initially a little put off in the prologue when I realised Llandry had wings as I very rarely knowingly pick up a fantasy book that involves ‘fairies’ but I’m glad I kept going. The Darklanders are essentially humans with added wings, nowhere near the classic fairy archetype.

One of the particularly striking features of this novel for me was the world building. Eva and Llandry both live in the Middle Realms; akin to our world it lays between the two unstable and magical Off-Worlds each with its own wildlife, nature and dangers.

Perhaps the most interesting element of English’s worldbuilding is the differences between the inhabitants of the Daylands, such as Eva, and the Darklands, like Llandry. Daylanders live in perpetual sunlight, while Darklanders’ eyes have grown accustom to only the light given from small floating orbs. This is a completely new concept to me and I loved the originality and how it plays a role in the narrative.

DRAYKON has a great pace and builds piece by piece to a fantastic and dramatic ending that I definitely didn’t see coming. The plot is original and exciting, the mystery genre element kept me guessing throughout and I was totally hooked very early on. As my first free eBook I wasn’t sure what to expect from DRAYKON, but if the standard set by Charlotte E. English is anything to go by I will definitely be downloading more! Sequel LOKANT is already on my Kindle ready to go!