|Interesting novel. Felt much less standalone than The Alloy of Law – I’ve read that Brandon originally intended Alloy as a standalone, then decided to follow it up with a trilogy, and Shadows of Self definitely feels more like “first in a connected trilogy” than “sequel to The Alloy of Law in the same vein”. Nonetheless, the character, plot, and worldbuilding work established in The Alloy of Law is deftly followed up on.
The worldbuilding really is strong here. I find the characters likable, but much less compelling than those in the first Mistborn trilogy. The fact that this wasn’t a planned series (originally Brandon just planned the original Mistborn trilogy, a modern-day trilogy, then a space-age trilogy) in Brandon’s master plan, might explain this to some extent. Wax is a strong character, but the arcs for everyone else feel just functional a lot of the time.
The story in this one worked really, really well for me. It tied together really well, and had a lot more depth than the story in Alloy. It was interesting both in terms of worldbuilding, character work for Wax, and the mechanics of the plot itself.
The humour is very hit and miss, but the darkness inherent to a lot of the characters, story, and world was embraced here. I feel like the Mistborn books work better at this sort of tone, rather than the lighter tone of Alloy (although I really liked Alloy).
I give it four Pathian earrings, and a shoulder to cry on.