So here we are. Like an Allomancer burning Atium and exhausting all her metals, I’ve siphoned all my reading power and finished every currently-released core Mistborn book. Brandon Sanderson continues to craft an epic, sweeping tale, and I adore this series beyond measure. Unless, of course, you count my review scores as a measure, which would be totally fair. But what difference does an 8, 9, or 10 make when my readthrough of the three existing second-era books took me only a month or two? The fact is, I burned through these books with a bookwormish zeal, and I loved every minute of it. Now I join the ranks of many a Brandy Sandy fan, eagerly awaiting The Lost Metal and the fates of these wonderful characters.
Spoilers ahead, intrepid explorers! Proceed with caution.
Waxillium Ladrian and his cohorts, having foiled a plot to take over Elendel, believe that Edwarn Ladrian is keeping Telsin (Wax’s long-lost sister) prisoner. They also believe Edwarn is searching for the Lord Ruler’s Bands of Mourning, incredibly powerful weapons capable of granting the wielder Allomantic and Feruchemical abilities. Wax, alongside trusty pals Marasi, Wayne, and Steris, set out to stop Edwarn and his organized crime syndicate, the Set.
Like the previous books in the series, The Bands of Mourning offers classic Sanderson fare. A tight, vibrant magic system, a well-realized world, and characters I’m dying to have a beer with (I don’t even drink). But I do have one gripe: the first two Wax and Wayne books built a beautiful world apart from our own. The Bands of Mourning sends its characters to the far reaches of the world, including a foreign city and a frozen wasteland. A good portion of this novel takes place in New Seran, an intriguing setting outside of Elendel. But it soon eschews this setting–one that feels like it fits–for the icy, colorless tundra where the titular weapons are supposedly hidden.
None of that is inherently bad, but I pined for the sprawling cultural touchstones of Elendel. Or even the new customs of New Seran. The frosty landscape featured in a big portion of this book is disappointing compared to the vibrant settings elsewhere in the series. Sanderson uses The Bands of Mourning almost as a filler book, setting up the events of the final Wax and Wayne novel. Was I disappointed? Yes. Did I still love the book? You’re damn right I did.
The Bands of Mourning also wildly expands the world of Mistborn, to the point of introducing a whole new culture. They join the cast near the back half of the novel, and they’ll clearly play a huge role in the finale. For readers who enjoyed the sharply focused world of Mistborn and the first few Wax and Wayne books, this may come as a shock. But I’m thankful that Sanderson pulls it off. In his usual way, he drew me in for a 100+ page reading spurt, and I turned the final page with wide eyes and a rapidly beating heart. Sadly, I need to wait a while before I can dive into the final era 2 book.
And that’s because the characters are still as fun as ever. They’re growing into themselves and learning lessons they wouldn’t dare contemplate in The Alloy of Law or Shadows of Self. It feels like a privilege to be on this journey with them, and I don’t take that for granted. Steris, like I mentioned in my previous review, continues to be an absolute star. Her character development showcases one of the strongest arcs in any of the Mistborn books, including the original trilogy.
The Bands of Mourning is a serviceable and fun addition to the Mistborn pantheon, though I think it’s the weakest of the books so far. Even so, setup and filler can serve a purpose, and I’m fine being ushered along for a few hundred pages, hopeful the finale will blow me away.
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