Review: The Bands of Mourning

“I’m wondering if every person I pass has similar depths, and if there’s any way to avoid the mistake of judging them so shallowly that I’m rocked when they show their true complexity.” ~ Brandon Sanderson, The Bands of Mourning

The Bands of Mourning (Wax & Wayne #3) by Brandon Sanderson
448 pages
Published by Tor, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Re-readability: I will definitely be rereading the whole Wax & Wayne series someday
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Pete
Spoiler-free review

The third Wax & Wayne book takes the series in a more Cosmere-oriented route, which is a nice change in pace from the first two books in the series.

If that was a confusing sentence for you, I’ll briefly sum up Sanderson’s Cosmere. Many of his books are set in a fictitious universe he calls The Cosmere. There are connections between the various worlds and their magic systems, and characters often make appearances in multiple series. Each book of his holds a few secrets that relate to the puzzle of the Cosmere—it’s like a massive and extremely intricate Easter egg hunt.

While the first two books focusing on the lawman and lord Waxillium Ladrian and his co-conspirator Wayne were adventures mostly focusing on the protagonists and their adventures in the city of Elendel, this book dealt more with a rapidly changing world and its connections with the Cosmere.

Bands of Mourning spent much more time with characters that had previously felt like side-characters, turning them into strong protagonists for a convincing and colorful ensemble story. No longer is the adventure just about Wax and his complex past—it’s about Marasi’s struggle to define herself in Wax’s shadow, Steris’s desire to be useful and supportive of Wax’s preposterously reckless lifestyle, and Wayne’s deep friendship with Wax—but more characters are introduced in this story, and none of them feel at all like props or devices. While it’s true that many of these characters are partly defined by their relationship to Wax, the overall effect is a strong group of characters with a charismatic leader at the center. Everyone has their own struggles, and for once the characters are facing a task of global significance.

This was more of a quest than the previous two stories, which was both a strength and a weakness. It was rewarding to learn more about the world of Scadrial and how it is rapidly becoming  technologically advanced place, but the quest-structure of the story felt a little cheesy at times. There were a few scenes that were somewhat cliche, which is particularly rare for Sanderson, in my opinion.

While the ending didn’t have quite the same punch as Shadows of Self, it did leave me incredibly curious about what’s in store for the world of Scadrial and all of the wonderful characters in this series. Knowing Sanderson, he has an outstanding finale in store for us—and it’s due out sometime in the next couple of years.

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