The Wax and Wayne Series [So Far]
by Brandon Sanderson
I’m a huge Sanderson fan, and these latest books in the Mistborn saga are just three more very compelling reasons why he’s one of my favorite authors.
If you aren’t familiar with the Mistborn series, here’s a little more about it: Sanderson originally meant to tell the story across three trilogies (a high fantasy, a contemporary, and a science fiction). The first set (Mistborn 1-3) was published between 2006 & 2008. Somewhere along the way, while working on a plethora of other projects, Sanderson got a wild hair and decided to add what I’m calling a “bonus” series – a set of four books that focus on the characters Wax and Wayne. This bonus series, set a few hundred years after the first Mistborn trilogy, is a fantasy/mystery hybrid set in an era resembling the 1920s. While these books are strong enough to stand on their own, readers would benefit from exploring the entire series in order of publication (starting with Mistborn: The Final Empire) to fully enjoy the rich history and nuances of character this saga has to offer.
This spoiler-free review will focus on the Wax and Wayne series (thus far) as follows:
The Alloy of Law:
I really enjoyed this novel and thought it was a great introduction to both the new era and characters within the Mistborn saga. The characters all caught my attention right away with their interesting backstories, but Sanderson really only scratched the surface of their depth in this first book. The mystery was also engaging, but it’s not until the next few books where you see how it ties in to the arc of the saga as a whole. Overall, The Alloy of Law was a light first read that’s entertaining and worth your time… but you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Shadows of Self:
After finishing Shadows of Self, I was certain it would be my favorite of the series, it was that good (and yet IT GETS EVEN BETTER in the final book). It not only brought in a fresh mystery that clearly tied into the overall arc of the series, but also offered a glimpse into a few characters’ pasts. Strength of character is easily one of the trilogy’s best elements, and I particularly appreciated the chance to learn more about each person’s quirks and inner motives. This book is when I knew for certain that Wayne, the loyal sidekick of the story, was my favorite character because a) he’s hysterical and b) it was fun to see him in his element (incognito, doing very serious detective stuff… wink wink). Also, as hinted at earlier, there’s a point in this novel where things start to tie back to the original trilogy in a way that had all of my nostalgic meters beeping off the charts. But the tiebacks were subtle, which made them accessible to new readers of the saga. Overall, Shadows of Self was a very strong work filled with mystery, action, humor, and a few surprises that might just knock your socks off (I’m still looking for mine, they flew so far).
Bands of Mourning:
I could barely put Bands of Mourning down. Every single last page was engaging and exciting, culminating towards an ending that had me stalking the author for news on the next one (which is on hold for a couple years while the author finishes up Oathbringer, the third book in the Stormlight Archive series, and incidentally the only series I’d be okay with postponing this one for – can you say amazing?!). What stood out to me about Bands of Mourning, aside from the obvious aforementioned character depth, world building, excellent action scenes, and spot-on pacing, was that it felt like Sanderson had an absolute blast while writing it. It maintained its serious base plotlines while at the same time managing to be positively hilarious. I laughed out loud for what felt like most of the book while still reveling at all the twists and turns. Sanderson gets yet another A++ for execution on this one, landing it not only as my favorite book of the series so far, but one of my favorite books of all time!
Overall, is this bonus Mistborn trilogy worth your time? Definitely. Fans of the series will enjoy the continuation and delight in the new characters while newcomers will (hopefully) be intrigued enough to go back and see where the saga started. I consider Sanderson a must-read for any fan of the fantasy genre, and this latest set of books are no exception!
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