Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I enjoy the Mistborn books greatly. The first trilogy is a wonderful mashup of epic fantasy and supers, while the second trilogy, of which this is part, is a mashup of supers and slightly steampunk Western. The protagonist's time in the Roughs, the frontier area, is told in flashback, though, and the current action takes place in a city, so it has a kind of urban fantasy vibe as well. The events of the first trilogy are legend and religion in the second, which is a great touch.
I listen to the Writing Excuses podcast and have watched some of Sanderson's videos, so I'm aware of his craft as I listen to these books. Mostly, though, I just immerse in them and enjoy them, while occasionally spotting a technique that he's talked about on the podcast or the videos.
For example, he sometimes talks about letting the reader feel clever because they guess the twist that's coming - and then doing something else that they haven't guessed. He definitely did that here; I saw the solution to the problem coming from miles away, in general if not in detail, but then he sprang a huge and completely unexpected revelation which suddenly cast the whole story, right back to the beginning, in a new light. This is top-class writing.
I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator does a wonderful job, particularly since one of the supporting characters is explicitly interested in accents and uses them in his crazy schemes. Combining comedy, tragedy and action, with a bit of police-procedural mystery and more than a little superheroism, and scattering reflections on identity, justice, the structure of society, and the search for happiness and freedom throughout, this is a book of many dimensions that I also found thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable.
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