The Era 2 books of the Mistborn series are as close to perfection as one can get to in storytelling. Any Mistborn fans who skip the Era 2 books are depriving themselves of some of the best dry humor, classic Sanderson heartbreaking plot twists, and a cast of fantastically built characters, specifically, the best character of all time: Wayne. You’ll thank me when you meet him.
Rating: 5 stars
FYI: This is a general review of the series as a whole and is SPOILER FREE!
Mistborn Era 2 (The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, The Bands of Mourning)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
I struggled with how to begin this review because I didn’t think me screaming “READ ERA 2” over and over again would go over too well. I will start off by saying that if you can tolerate audiobooks, I HIGHLY suggest reading Era 2 via audio. Michael Kramer is a god amongst narrators and his ability to imbue emotion and action to his narration is stellar in this production. When a character is in pain or tired or out of breath, you can hear it in his voice. Very few narrators do this, but Kramer brings everything to the table with his readings and it breathes such life into these books. Also, accents. But we’ll get to that later.
The Era 2 books include The Allow of Law, Shadows of Self, The Bands of Mourning, and one sweet day in the future, The Lost Metal. Each book builds upon the framework of what I refer to as the original trilogy (Era 1: The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages) or for the purposes of this review, the OT. We jump back into the Mistborn world 300 years after the events of the OT. The world has settled down a bit from all the end of world chaos, and technology has started to advance. The city of Elendel (brb crying forever about Elend) has skyscrapers and motor vehicles are coming into fashion. From an outside view, things seem pretty good in our Mistborn world. But this being a Brandon Sanderson series, we know nothing is pretty good.
Because this is a general review of the first three books of Era 2, I won’t go into particulars about the plots, but I can say that Sanderson remains an expert in the craft of weaving delicate, heartbreaking, and long brewing plot lines. The way certain stories tie together is nothing short of masterful. Some will think that this is just a western series with magic based on the first book, but it is not. Yes, the style of era we are in during these books is western-ish, but these novels are SO MUCH MORE. I really can’t say more without spoiling things, but the ways these books progress the mythology set up in the OT is wonderful and heartbreaking.
I think one of the most wonderful things about Era 2 are all the little nods to the OT. Fans of the OT will still feel the presence of OT characters throughout Era 2 in ways that are comforting and a little sad, but not in a way that overshadows our new cast.
The lead of Era 2 is Waxillium Ladrian, a nobleman who ran away from his title and spent time becoming a hardened Roughs (think desert/western type area) lawman. He is drawn back to Elendel due to the death of his Uncle and his responsibility to take over the family’s house. Wax is one of my favorite leading male characters and also hardcore book boyfriend material to me. He is gruff, slightly awkward, heroic, and has some of the best dry humor moments. The story of Wax’s life is immensely interesting and as it is slowly lain out on the page of the course of the three books, you can see how tragic it is too. Y’all, I can’t say no to lawman character with a tragic backstory.
Then we have Steris and Marasi, our two female leads. Steris starts off as one of my least favorite characters, but the more we get to know her the more we grow to love her. By the time we hit book three, I am prepared to die for Steris. You may think you know all you need to know about her from her introduction to the story, but trust me, there is so much more to Steris. Marasi is a little more predictable in her character, but still immensely relatable and amusing. Her interactions with Wayne are always top notch and though she isn’t always doing epic things, she is important to the story and the other characters.
And then there is Wayne. Wonderful, weird Wayne. I almost don’t know what to say about Wayne. He is one of the most unique characters I’ve ever read. He has such profound wisdom that he delivers in the most ridiculous ways and you can’t help but hang on his every word. Wayne is the perfect counterpart to Wax’s gruffness and they play off of each other perfectly. But Wayne is not just a humorous sidekick. He brings a startling depth to the story in his own way and more than once manages to break my heart. His philosophies about accents and hats are deeply insightful in the most ridiculous way and relates to how writers crafter their characters.
Whenever people say they are starting the OT, I always say “I hope you enjoy them. MAKE SURE TO READ ERA 2!”. And while I fully agree that the OT is wonderful and amazing and epic, it will always be Era 2 that truly has my heart.