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The Bands of Mourning
Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Mistborn: The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages, Towers of Midnight, A Memory of Light, Dangerous Women, Games Creatures Play, The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self.
Sixth in the Mistborn steampunk epic fantasy series (third in the Wax and Wayne and also known as the Alloy Era) revolving around Wax and Wayne, the white hat and his crazy sidekick.
In 2016, The Bands of Mourning was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Fantasy.
It’s all about duty. Duty to the family, duty to truth, duty to one’s fellowman in an Old West-meets-Eastern-steampunk setting with Wax, Wayne, Steris, and Marasi off on a treasure hunt that includes train robbery, midnight escapes, rescues, red herrings, and more.
Sanderson uses third-person omniscient point-of-view, which is right handy for getting inside everyone’s heads and emotions, as there is quite a huge jump in Steris’, Marasi’s, and Wax’s character arcs. Sweet, even if Sanderson takes some weird swings to achieve enlightenment.
And the power of not caring about what others think of you…
That Steris is something else. She’s practical and no-nonsense — and so dutiful, right along with Wax, and my heart bled for her in that church. It’s Wax who’s kickin’ and screamin’ about the kick-off, er, the inciting incident, while Steris considers the realities and starts making a list, lol.
Poor Wax. Sanderson gives us a couple of chunks of back history on Wax’s time in the Village and how he so badly wanted to fit in (as well as a peek in at his activities on the morning of his wedding), to be accepted. Except that need he had for the rules was there even then.
It just goes to show. Even a peace-loving people who pride themselves on their insight can be so very blind, so very gullible, and worried about what others think.
“You enjoy playing with people’s perceptions of you, don’t you? You seek to make them uncomfortable, so they’ll be off balance.”
With each book in the series, I’m impressed all over again with Sanderson’s worldbuilding. Such an odd blend of our world, peoples, and history with his steampunk world of Edwardian-seeming mores and styles. It both parallels and swings off from our own. Although I do wish he provided better clarity on who’s who, how, and what. I still get so confused over the “Ascendant Warrior” and “emperor” and all that. As for the characters…I’d’ve never thought of kandras. It takes you aback with that whole bone thing…ick… Of course, there is the funny side that’ll take your mind off it:
“‘She assumes,’ Wax said, ‘that our detective style isn’t “normally” the punchy-punchy, stabby-stabby type.’
‘To be fair,’ Wayne said, ‘it’s usually a more shooty-shooty, whacky-whacky type.'”
Interesting bits of foreshadowing from Devlin Airs, and part of the rumbling Wax and company hear on their journey, some pertinent to this story, other bits that will carry over the series arc.
“The difference between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is not found in the acts they are willing to commit — but merely in what ‘name’ they are willing to commit them in.”
Then along comes that ending that blows everything up and opens humongous possibilities for storylines in the next installments.
The fear is that the Bands of Mourning, the Lord Ruler’s metalminds, his bracers, will endow any person who wears them with all the powers of a Mistborn. A fear that intensifies when ReLuur staggers back into kandra civilization, missing his spike, babbling tales of bracers with possible proof of their existence.
Lord Waxillium “Dawnshot” Ladrian is a Twinborn, a Feruchemist (he can make himself weigh more or less) and an Allomancer with a power of Steelpushing, who believes in the Pathian way. The first lord of House Ladrian was Breeze Ladrian, part of Kelsier’s crew. Cob is Wax’s coachman. Drewton is his valet. Darriance is the butler. Herve is a footman.
Lady Steris Harms is the bride-to-be with a need to plan anything to the nth degree. Landre is Steris’ maid. Marasi, Lady Colms, is Steris’ bastard half-sister who traded in being a lawyer to become a constable, who’s hopelessly in love with Wax, and is obsessed with statistics. She has the Allomancy ability to slow down time, a Pulser.
Wayne has an absolute talent for disguise. He’s also Wax’s crazy sidekick of a deputy with a hatred of money but a love of things. He has an, unusual, way of paying for anything, for it depends on Wayne’s value system. He’s also a Twinborn who uses bendalloy to fuel his Allomancy as a Slider (create a bubble of compressed time around himself) with the Feruchemical ability to heal fast, a Bloodmaker. The unfriendly Ranette is a Lurcher and makes quality guns, including Wax’s beloved Sterrions and Vindication. Wayne has a passion for her, but she already has a girlfriend. I think Edip is Wayne’s mother.
…the primary city of this world. Lord Drapen is the constable-general of the Sixth Octant. Lord Steming. Governor Aradel hired Marasi as a constable to spy on Wax. Ahlstrom Tower has a flat top. Constable-General Reddi works closely with Marasi. Old Dent is a fast food vendor. Migs, Slink, Drawers, and Guillian are part of a gang.
The Village is…
…a forested area within the city of Elendel with the Tin Gate its entrance into the city. Asinthew is Wax’s name here, but he’s still considered an outsider. Telsin is Wax’s sister. Elder Vwafendal is their grandmother. Telsin’s friends include the girls Kwashim and Idashwy and one boy, the Twinborn (a Coinshot) Forch. Master Tellingdwar teaches proper Terris attitudes and meditation. The Synod’s Lodge is where the Terris offices are located.
The Basin is…
…the territories outside of Elendel.
…a town where the train stopped. Constable Matieu is the local police captain.
New Seran is…
…a town of gondolas that act as buses to haul the populace up and down its mountainous hills. The people who “count” (and are at the party) include Kelesina Shores (Burl is one of her servants); Lord Westweather Cett is heir to the house fortune; that insulting jerk, Lord Gave Entrone, is in textiles; his cousin Valette has married; Lady Felise Demoux and her nephew; Lord Severington is the mayor of Bilming and busy whipping up the populace of the Basin against Elendel; and, Devlin Airs buys information. Mr. Eriola is a banker. Dechamp is the night gravekeeper; Bilmy is the day man. Templeton Fig owns the cemetery; Destra is his wife. The hotel, the Copper Gate, is owned by Aunt Gin.
Sazed, a Terrisman, became Harmony, the Pathian god of this world, the Hero of Ages. Beliefs Reborn are from the Words of Founding. The Lord Mistborn was the Survivor of the Flames while Kelsier was the Survivor who inspired Survivorism, a religion that is about lasting as long as you can before you lose. Vin, the Ascendant Warrior who slew the Lord Ruler, and Elend Venture are buried in the Field of Rebirth in the center of Elendel. The Catacendre ended the World of Ash while Vin ended the Lord Ruler, Rashek.
The kandra are…
…creatures, Faceless Immortals, who carry out Harmony’s wishes. To take on a shape, they must eat the bones of whoever they want to shift into. The spikes the kandra carry in their heads brought them to sapience and hold many memories. VenDell of the Sixth is sent to recruit Wax. MeLaan is a kandra who has helped Wax before. ReLuur, a Third Generation kandra, is an explorer and a genius who had been tracking the Bands of Mourning. Third Generation kandra are the parents of MeLaan’s generation.
The Nightstreet Gang is…
…getting bolder. Donny is the leader.
…a cordoned-off territory in the countryside where the Set, a shadowy organization, is planning for the rebellion. “Sequence” is in charge. Edwarn, a.k.a., Mr. Suit, Wax’s paternal uncle, is trying to breed Allomancers. Professor Irich has the rank of an Array and is dying. Lord Stanoux is an expert on ancient, anteverdant languages. Lady Stansi and Professor Javie will head up the engineers. Fed is one of the men.
Rust and Ruin, rusting, and Harmony are expletives. Lessie had been the woman Wax loved, killed, and could never forget. An evanoscope is an image projector. Think of the Roughs as the equivalent of our Old West; Weathering is a city out there. Ape Manton used to hunt Allomancers, including Wax.
A Metalborn is a person born with one of the three Metallic Arts: Allomancy in which a person draws power from an external source and then “burns” the metal; Feruchemy uses metal as a focus — the metalminds — and stores the power to use when they want it; and, Hemalurgy, a dark art that steals a Metalborn’s Allomantic or Feruchemical abilities to create a spike that enables a person to do as they like with those stolen powers. A Twinborn is a person born with an Allomantic power plus a Feruchemical power. Of the Metalborn, Lurchers can pull iron to them; Steelrunners can store up speed; and, Coinshots Pull on metals. A Crasher is a combination of Coinshot and Skimmer, I think. Mistings. Ferrings. Aluminum is Allomatically inert and had been rare. Investiture is the raw power of both Allomancy and Feruchemy and keyed to your soul. Identity is when this Investiture is keyed to an individual. A metalmind is an object that can be filled with power. A coppermind can be filled with memories.
The Wearers of Masks are…View Spoiler » …people in the South of the world whose land suffered the Ice Death, when the Originators ended the World of Ash. The Lord Ruler (who had died) showed up and became the Sovereign for 300 years. He created the Firemothers and Firefathers to fill the medallions, a.k.a., Excisors (metalminds). They are at war with the Deniers of Masks.
Different peoples have different lifestyles surrounding the masks. Hunters grow into their masks; some change their masks according to their mood; others give a child a mask which is only changed once on reaching adulthood; and, the Fallen (the former rulers) who wear plain unpainted masks until they earn a more ornate one. Jaggenire, Herr, and his sister Frue are old Terris gods. Ettmetal is what the wearers-of-masks use in their metalminds.
The Brunstell and the Wilg are…
…flying ships from the Malwish people. Allik Neverfar (his parents are from Wiestlow) was the last of the Wilg‘s crew still alive. Captain Jordis and Petrine, the enginemaster and oldest of the crew, are but a few of the one hundred crew from the Brunstell who are still alive.
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The Cover and Title
The cover is icy cold at the snow-laden mountain top temple with the curly-haired blonde Steris in her fur-trimmed cloak, standing at alert with the long-haired Wax in his black cravat, shirt, vest, and overcoat. The author’s name is a blocky royal blue outlined in an icy white at the top while the title reverses the colors in a Gothic script-like serif at the bottom with the series information at the very bottom. There is a band of thin vertical lines at the very top and bottom that bring to mind the corrugation found at the end of duct pipes.
The title is the focus, the Lord Ruler’s metalminds, the bracers that are The Bands of Mourning.