Size Doesn’t Matter (131): The Bands of Mourning; The Wicked City

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (131): The Bands of Mourning; The Wicked CityThe Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Mistborn: Alloy Era #3
Published by Tor Books on January 26, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Western
Pages: 447
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

The #1 New York Times bestselling author returns to the world of Mistborn with the follow-up to Shadows of Self

With The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a New York Times bestselling spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America.

Now, with The Bands of Mourning, Sanderson continues the story. The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

The Alloy Era of Mistborn continues to outstrip the original era. Sanderson makes some interesting choices with the plotting of The Bands of Mourning that point to a satisfying conclusion to the series.

In The Bands of Mourning, Wax’s crew go in search of, you guessed it, the Bands of Mourning. No, they’re not looking for a sweet band to play at a funeral, though it probably wouldn’t hurt them to have one on retainer; they’re looking for the Lord Ruler’s metalminds (aka a mega evil dude from the original trilogy). I was seriously worried about this plot line for a couple of reasons, but Sanderson handles this really well.

For one thing, the series gains some additional depth in the inclusion of a new culture. The people of the Basin have been curiously uninterested in the world around them, but people from the South have come up in their own search of the Bands. There’s a new perspective on the Basin and on the Lord Ruler, which makes things more complex. Sanderson could have used The Bands of Mourning as a convenient cop out, but View Spoiler »

Sanderson has made some interesting romance decisions in this series. Wax and Marasi are officially not to be a thing anymore. I do like the slow way that Steris and Wax have come to form a bond of their own, even managing some decent banter; it’s not the epic romance he could have had with Marasi if things had been different, but it’s kinda cool that it wasn’t the right time for them and they’ve moved on. Admittedly, Marasi moving on is pretty clunkily handled, because the focus rests more on Wax. The burgeoning ships for Wayne and Marasi have yet to impress, but they do have some amount of potential.

The book does run a bit long, and the pace drags a bit more than it did in the prior two books, but The Bands of Mourning does impress and satisfy if you put the time into it.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (131): The Bands of Mourning; The Wicked CityThe Wicked City by Beatriz Williams
Narrator: Julie McKay, Dara Rosenberg
Length: 13 hrs, 14 mins
Published by Harper Audio on January 17, 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams recreates the New York City of A Certain Age in this deliciously spicy adventure that mixes past and present and centers on a Jazz Age love triangle involving a rugged Prohibition agent, a saucy redheaded flapper, and a debonair Princetonian from a wealthy family.

When she discovers her husband cheating, Ella Hawthorne impulsively moves out of their SoHo loft and into a small apartment in an old Greenwich Village building. Her surprisingly attractive new neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement at night. Tenants have reported strange noises after midnight—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano—even though the space has been empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the place hid a speakeasy.

In 1924, Geneva "Gin" Kelly, a smart-mouthed flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin becomes entangled with Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.

Headstrong and independent, Gin is no weak-kneed fool. So how can she be falling in love with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent when she’s got Princeton boy Billy Marshall, the dashing son of society doyenne Theresa Marshall, begging to make an honest woman of her? While anything goes in the Roaring Twenties, Gin’s adventures will shake proper Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead—secrets that will echo from Park Avenue to the hollers of her Southern hometown.

As Ella discovers more about the basement speakeasy, she becomes inspired by the spirit of her exuberant predecessor, and decides to live with abandon in the wicked city too. . . .

Beatriz Williams’ books have been consistently enjoyable, but The Wicked City easily became my favorite of her books thus far. Both the plot and the ships excelled in this one.

Williams’ books have had two downfalls in the past that have kept me from loving them. First, there’s a tendency towards soap opera level melodrama, which, while entertaining, isn’t something I actually love. Second, because she generally does the dual timeline structure with a heroine researching a mystery of the past, I’m usually not as into one of the timelines.

With The Wicked City, Williams kept the book heavy on action and excitement without letting the drama approach melodramatic levels. Mostly. The final showdown with Gin’s stepfather went way too far for me, but otherwise I loved the way this book unfolded.

Both Gin and Ella delighted me from the start, and the audiobook performances for both of them are excellent. Gin positively drips with personality, and she’s impossible not to love. Having been through serious shit with her stepfather, she ran off to New York City, the wicked city, and determined to live her own way without shame. She’s daring, witty, sassy, and smart. Ella’s much more staid, as she tries to figure out how to deal with the fact that her husband cheated on her. Her plot line is predictable, but satisfying, though the two timelines tie together in a weird magical realism way that doesn’t fit with Williams’ collection of historical companion novels.

The ships in this book are the cat’s meow. Gin’s got a total crack love triangle, and I’m so here for it. Ella has a sweet romance with the hot guy who lives in her new apartment building. They’re done in this perfect crack way, and yes very ship. Also, both have really hot scenes where they admit their feelings, and the anticipation is used really effectively. View Spoiler »

I really need to go back and read the Williams books I’ve missed, because they really are a hoot. If you don’t care about reading them in order (they do tie in; for example, Ella is the daughter of Pepper, one of the heroines of Along the Infinite Sea), A Wicked City‘s a good place to start with Williams.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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