Hmmm… I’m not completely sure how I feel about this book. It was an excellent read. It moved quickly, the characters are good, and the story is engaging. I liked the action and mystery. The resolution was appropriate. It had pretty much everything I’d expect from a good book.
But I’m not sure I liked it. In general, I really like Sanderson’s books. He strikes a great balance between excellent writing and fantastic storytelling. His magic systems are well thought out and consistent. He also doesn’t rely on them too much, instead letting the characters humanity carry the action. He does all these things here too. The problem is that there’s an underlying story in the book that isn’t resolved, and is pretty disturbing. I’m assuming that this is done intentionally as it’s the middle book in a trilogy, and the resolution will come in the third book.
I think this is similar to The Empire Strikes Back. Technically, it’s the best movie in the Star Wars universe, but it’s dark, it doesn’t have a happy ending, and it raises a lot of questions. Overall, it’s kind of depressing. The movie really becomes enjoyable after watching Return of the Jedi, when some of those questions are answered. I’m really hoping that’s the case with Shadows of Self. The ending is kind of dark and a lot of questions are left unresolved. If Sanderson can clean up the mess he’s made in the third book, then this one will become more enjoyable.