British Fiction Focus

Covering Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Once upon a time, Waxillium “Wax” Ladrian and his best mate Wayne were of precious little significance in the grand scheme of Brandon Sanderson. They had small parts to play in a creative writing exercise meant to help clear the author’s head before he completed work on The Wheel of Time series. But Sanderson’s practice blossomed into a proper short story… a short story that kept growing and growing until, before long, a whole new novel was born!

Published in late 2011, that novel was The Alloy of Law: “a wonderful fantasy with a steampunk feel” that won hearts and minds at the same time as bringing Sanderson back to the world which was his first real claim to fame. Given its success, a sequel to said was essentially inevitable, but as we learned last December, it, in its turn, turned into two books: Shadows of Self and Bands of Mourning. And there’s still another one to come!

But lest we get ahead of ourselves, let’s fix our intent on the present, and on the cover art Gollancz unveiled yesterday.

As with The Alloy of Law, and indeed sixteen of the other novels and novellas that bear Brandon Sanderson’s bestselling name in the UK, the cover of Shadows of Self is by Sam Green. Now I’ll be honest here: I’ve had my ups and downs with Sam Green’s work over the years. In the decade since the publication of The Final Empire, he’s produced a whole bunch of cracking covers; on the other hand, however, a few of his illustrations have been bland at best.

Happily, his Shadows of Self cover is appealingly ornate, if not as intricate as his art for The Alloy of Law:


I have to know, though: what in the world of Wolf Hall is Damien Lewis doing in that there mirror?

Expect that to go down in history as a minor mystery, because he certainly isn’t mentioned in the book’s updated blurb:

It is more than 300 years after the events of the The Final Empire shaped Scadrial. The heroes of the Mistborn series are now figures of myth and legend—objects of religious veneration, even—who have long since been succeeded.

Chief among the wonderful new cast of characters introduced in The Alloy of Law, we have Waxillium ‘Wax’ Ladrian, the hereditary Lord of House Ladrian—and also, until recently, a lawman in the ungoverned frontier region known as the Roughs, where Wax worked with his eccentric but effective buddy, Wayne. They are ‘twinborn,’ meaning they are able to use both Allomantic and Feruchemical magic.

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts. This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky civilisation now faces its first terrorists, who commit crimes intended to stir up labour strife and religious conflict. Assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, Wax and Wayne must unravel the conspiracy before Scadrial’s progress is stopped in its tracks.

Shadows of Self will be brought to Great Britain by Gollancz on October 9th, which is just a few days later than its publication across the pond. After that, Wax and Wayne will be back in Bands of Mourning next January, with a fourth and (thus far) final volume of their exploits to follow.

Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative ScotsmanStrange Horizons, and He’s been known to tweet, twoo.


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