A dreadful realization came over me as I was finishing this book. As I neared the end it suddenly hit me that I was going to have to wait for the next one to be published before I could get closure on the series. According to the author’s current timeline, it looks like I am going to be left in suspense until at least 2018!
This story begins six months after the conclusion of the previous book. Mere minutes before the scheduled start of his wedding ceremony, Wax is approached by a small group of kandra seeking his assistance. Their agent ReLuur has returned home from an investigation crippled and missing one of his hemalurgic spikes, but also bearing evidence of an incredible discovery. Included among his possessions is information that could lead to the long-lost Bands of Mourning, the deceased Lord Ruler’s Feruchemic bracers thought to contain a considerable remnant of his power. Feeling betrayed by Harmony and offended by the timing of the request, Wax initially refuses to have any involvement in either the search for the missing spike or the artifacts. He comes around, however, after finding out Marasi has agreed to help and that the Set organization is most likely involved as well. The journey takes out heroes far outside the familiar confines of Elendel to the city of New Seran and frontier beyond, where many new threats and challenges await them in their quest.
I was a bit unsure about this book after the first couple of chapters. With Wax still reeling from the events and revelations that ended the last book, this one opened on kind of a down note. This, in combination with Wayne’s usually amusing antics only serving to make him look like a real dick, had me worried that the series was about to take its first stumble. How wrong I was! Once the story got going the book recovered quickly and I couldn’t put it down. Both Wax and Wayne redeem themselves, and we get to see some very different sides of each by the time the book ends. I also liked that Steris emerged as a strong, relatable character. It is now very clear that she makes an excellent partner for Wax and I’m looking forward to seeing where she goes from here. For a final thought on the characters, it was a lot of fun to have MeLaan back. Let’s just say she is an excellent companion for Wayne and, as a kandra, brings a unique perspective to most situations.
The highlight of this book, though, was its implications for the story going forward. With each of these novels, the world of Scadrial keeps on getting bigger and by the end of this particular installment we very clearly get a sense of how much the world has changed since Ruin’s defeat and of how little we’ve seen of the planet thus far. My guess is that the final book is likely to feature a lot of new people and places; all made accessible by some pretty cool new technologies that appear. This change in scope, in combination with the spreading social unrest and political resistance to Elendel in the surrounding cities, brought a sense of epic adventure to the story, giving it a Raiders of the Lost Arc-like feeling. Hanging over everything, though, there was once again a lot to think about in regard to Harmony; in particular the extent and limits of his powers, his role in shaping life on Scadrial, and what, if any, equivalent forces exist.
Speaking to that last point, this novel marks the first time in the series that we see the word “cosmere” in print, used somewhat interchangeably for “universe” by some of the characters. I am getting really curious how deep we are now into that shared universe. Although it did not interfere with my enjoyment of the book, there were a few places where I strongly suspected that certain people or events might be part of a larger picture I am not yet privy to. Cautiously looking into this after reading the book confirmed that was indeed the case, though not necessarily where I thought. Since I seem to have about a year to go until I can pick up the last installment of this series, my goal now is to fill up my reading list with some books that might help me fill in some gaps. I get the impression that some of our old friends were quite busy in the space in between the two sets of books.