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Wax and Wayne: Shadows of Self - Review

Posted May 15th, 2024 at 12:37 PM by TGRF
TGRF Reviews: Shadows of Self

I recently completed the second installment in the Wax and Wayne series, the sequel series to the Mistborn books. At this point I've read both the Mistborn trilogy and the four Stormlight Archive books, and while I like the Stormlight setting more, I feel that the Mistborn trilogy was definitely Sanderson's best work that I've read. So my hopes are high for Wax and Wayne to deliver. Let's get to the review.

5: Amazing, above flawless.
4: Flawless, but doesn't really stand out.
3: Might have some issues, but works fine.
2: Has some issues which might detract from the media.
1: Flawed, bring the media down noticeably.

Title: Shadows of Self
Author: Brandon Sanderson
My Rating: 4/5 - A fun and solid read, with good promise for what's to come

Summary: As I understand it, Alloy of Law was more of an introductory book, a way for Sanderson to test the waters as it were before he committed to a full series. Thus, Shadows of Self is the real first book in the 'trilogy' of Wax and Wayne.

Wax, now a recognized lawman in the city of Elendel, is doing his best to stop crime in the city when he is sent on a mission by Harmony himself. Harmony - who is essentially a god - tells wax that a kandra has gone rogue. Kandra are shapeshifters which serve Harmony, but this one has severed her connection and now seems to be bent on a killing spree in the city.

It's up to wax to stop her, while also unraveling the mystery of her motivations. How does he stop someone who can literally look like anyone, and against whom bullets are only a minor inconvenience?

Review: Shadows of Self is in a strange place for me. The book defies normal breakdowns, and has instead melted in my mind into simply the knowledge that it was a good read.

I can't really get more detailed than that. The characters were solid. The plot was solid. The twists were solid. Nothing really grabbed my attention as being outstanding, but certainly nothing was bad. In fact, I think this is the first Sanderson book I've read since Mistborn where I have nothing negative to say.

I'm excited about this, because it could mean that we're on the way to two great books to finish out Wax and Wayne. The ending of this 'first' book definitely sets up some intriguing questions and conflicts, and I'm excited to see where they go.

Sanderson has said that he wants the Mistborn books to be more of a character-driven story, while Stormlight is there for epic scale. And honestly, I think Mistborn is profiting wildly off of that. Shadows of Self shifts constantly between Wax, Wayne, and Marasi, but the story remains very much in Wax's hemisphere. I think the story is a great read for anyone looking to master the balance between having multiple characters, but not diluting the power of the singular protagonist.

I wish I could break the story down more, but there isn't a lot to say. It worked. It worked well. There was nothing wrong with it. I'm looking forward to the next books. I've been pretty hard on the Sanderson books, so for me to be able to say that about this one is a great win.

Going forward, I hope that Sanderson capitalizes on the tantalizing questions and conflicts he teased in this book. I hope that he manages to avoid his typical low-tension opening. But to find out, we'll have to wait and see.

I'll see you all again when I've finished the third book. Until then, keep writing.

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