[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] Broken Angels – Harambee K Grey-sun

Broken AngelsSummary
Characters – 3/5
Plot – 3/5
World Building – 5/5
Style – 3/5
Overall – 4/5

The White Fire Virus has infected thousands of humans and blessed them with extraordinary powers to bend light to their will and dive into the ultimate reality of XynKroma. The catch is that they’re being slowly and painfully consumed from the inside-out by the parasite. BROKEN ANGELS tells the story of infected Watcher agents Darryl and Robert in their hunt for a particularly elusive case; missing teenager Marie-Lydia McGillis. After storming a nest of virus-infected terrorists, they instead find self proclaimed “angel” Ava Darden, the last person to see Marie-Lydia before she disappeared. The search for Marie-Lydia winds around a complex background of the impending apocalypse and a race against virus-infected ID terrorists.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this novel. Anyone who’s been reading my blog for a while knows that I’ve been slowly but surely working my way through BROKEN ANGELS for a good few months now, it’s taken me a lot longer than usual to finish because of a number of factors – life getting in the way being one of them.

The characters were a little hard to connect with in the beginning; Darryl was clearly deluded and Robert was a little too stiff and boring until Ava came on the scene. I enjoyed trying to puzzle Ava out, her lost memories and conviction in her angelic status made her mysterious and she seemed to be the only character really pushing the book forward in the early stages.

I felt a real lack of plot for a long time with this book,when it suddenly kicked into gear in the final third and things turned very exciting, very quickly. For me, far too much time was spent dripping hints and clues before any real action took place, although I wouldn’t say that my stop-start reading helped this feeling at all. The pacing felt more than a little slow and coupled with a thick style, I definitely didn’t find BROKEN ANGELS an easy read. 

Grey-sun has a very deep and philosophical style, which while elegant on the page, did cause me to struggle a little. The whole novel is pitched in a spiritual and religious manner; thought-provoking  and quite beautiful to read. However, I would often find myself reading the same section over and over to try make sense of it. I think this might have been intentional in some places; when the characters visit XynKroma for example, but it was sometimes too often than I had patience for. 

The imagination and creativity behind the world building was wonderful, I loved the concept of the White Fire Virus and XynKroma was Alice in Wonderland in the extreme. From what I understood, XynKroma is an extra-dimensional realm, a different version of reality, which doesn’t adhere to any laws of physics. It is a special kind of chaotic hell crammed with the thoughts and souls of every living being all at once. Only the carriers of the White Fire Virus can visit, and a certain terrorist group of carriers called The ID are attempting to cause this realm to leak into our reality, causing the apocalypse. It’s complicated, but I love it.

I thought the book ended rather roundly with all the ends tied up nicely, however, BROKEN ANGELS is only the first in a series. I will definitely be grabbing DIVINITIES, ENTANGLED at some point but would have to re-read BROKEN ANGELS to try cement the story in my head beforehand.

Overall, while I did struggle my way through this novel I can’t help but feel it was worth it. There was a lot lacking, but exceptional world-building and an exciting ending definitely swayed my opinion. I would recommend setting aside a large chunk of time if you’re planning on tackling BROKEN ANGELS, but I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed if you make it to the end.

I received BROKEN ANGELS for free from the lovely people at HyperVerse Books. My reviews always represent my own honest opinion.