#37 The Bands of Mourning, by Brandon Sanderson

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With The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a New York Times bestselling spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America.

Now, with The Bands of Mourning, Sanderson continues the story. The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

The Bands of Mourning is the sixth Mistborn book overall, and the third one featuring Wax and Wayne. I was rather lukewarm towards Alloy of Law, but loved Shadows of Self, so I had high hopes for this one.

Did it deliver? Well, mostly yes, but there were a few not so minor bumps. The book starts off well enough, with some really fascinating details on the nature of the Feruchemical abilities of Identity and Investiture, which is precisely the sort of thing I love about Mistborn.

And then it’s a quest to find the eponymous Bands of Mourning. I enjoyed the adventure, with fights and action scenes sprinkled throughout to keep up the tension, but to be honest the star for me was the character development, especially getting to know Steris better, and the way her and Wax’s relationship develops is a real delight. I like how it’s not your typical meet-and-fall-in-love sort of romance, and how these two very different people support and complement each other.

On the flip side, there’s Wayne. I get that he’s supposed to be Wax’s sidekick and the funny guy, but increasingly, he just feels like a total dick to me. OK, maybe not a total dick – Wayne had his moments too, but he definitely got on my nerves at times, especially with all the casual stealing stuff and his behaviour towards Steris. Of course, not all characters have to be likable, but this feels more like a case of Sanderson trying to write quirky likable ruffian but not pulling it off properly.

As for the plot, after the initial excitement I felt at the beginning of the quest, the rest was a bit meh – it’s still fun, but not mindblowing. Unlike Shadows of Self, this book’s big plot twist was rather predictable. For that matter, the whole quest for the Bands of Mourning – despite being really high stakes – didn’t have the same tension for me as the Bleeder plot in Shadows of Self. Plus that sort of fetch quest has been done too many times, and feels a bit cliched at times.

I was much more excited at finding out more about the other peoples of Scadrial and what they’ve been up to, and the many really, really intriguing hints that the prologue drops about the past and the future, and things that involve more than just Scadrial, other parts of the Cosmere.

I think that’s also part of why the book fell a bit flat for me – the western style adventures, train robberies and gunfights, are just not for me. Sanderson’s written them well enough, it’s just that I’m much more interested in the Mistborn world and magic system and the larger Cosmere than I am in seeing Wax beat up yet another gang of thugs. So while all these big fights are going down, a part of me is always thinking can we just hurry up and have another infodump about Feruchemy?

I’m still eagerly looking forwards to the conclusion of this trilogy with The Lost Metal, and I still enjoyed the book, but it was probably the weakest Mistborn book for me. Which makes it sound bad, but all I mean is that it’s less great than the others. You’re spoiled us rotten, Mr. Sanderson.

One last thing – I freaking hate the cover! I know it’s a subjective thing, but seriously, it’s basically the same as the one for Shadows of Self with a new background. Can we please have something other than two people looking vaguely determined for the next one?


 

My Rating : 3.5/5

 

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