Brandon Sanderson’s work has become a recent obsession of mine. Blending intense worldbuilding, expansive magic systems, empathic character writing, and a breakneck writing pace comparable only to the great Chuck Tingle, Sanderson has left an indelible mark on the sci-fi/fantasy world. His wake can in fact be felt in every aspect of the modern publishing industry, evidenced by his recent Kickstarter project shattering records. Central to his work is the Cosmere, a universe of sci-fi/fantasy novels, comics, and short stories interweaving a larger narrative of godhood and the intrigues therein. Central in turn to the Cosmere is Mistborn.
Serving as somewhat of a backbone for the universe’s overarching narrative thus far (scant though it may be as yet) Mistborn has long been a fan favorite in the fantasy genre, and its newest entry The Lost Metal lives up to the reputation. As the climax and finale of the Mistborn Era 2 arc, it sticks the landing, but more impressively it serves as a satisfying ending to a frankly rocky story arc. (The Wax & Wayne books were developed out of a single short story and it shows at times.) While the main narrative of The Lost Metal can be tedious at times, the ultimate conclusion of the arc leaves our heroes’ lives and journeys truly tied up in a bow– for better or worse.
While I do have my complaints about the Era 2 story arc, ultimately it is a compelling story of heroism and identity. Especially relevant to the conversation of heroism is the series’ fascination with the law. At times the arc has honestly felt like copaganda (the second book is literally about putting down a labor riot.) That being said, I think The Lost Metal does an excellent job in its approach to demonstrating the lengths that individuals will go to do good, and the boundaries that can’t– or shouldn’t– be crossed. It is a story about shedding the persona the world has cast for you and finding passion in life and in the bonds of loved ones.
I do truly love this book. Given my voracious appetite for Sanderson’s work, that was most definitely a given, but it still manages to excite me in ways I never expected. For anyone who has the fortune not to be subjected to my ranting about the Cosmere and its inner workings, know that I spend an inordinate amount of time scouring the fan wiki, rereading Mistborn and its gargantuan sister series The Stormlight Archive trying to piece together theories and divine the future of the fantasy universe. I once spent an hour arguing with a friend whether magic from one book would work on the planet from another book. I have a functional knowledge of physics from a fantasy universe, but I have no marketable skills for a resume. I digress.
All this to say: this truly is a passion of mine and has built and strengthened friendships in my life. That’s what fandom is about, and that’s what GateCrashers is about. I want to share a little bit of what excited me about The Lost Metal, as a mega-fan myself.
- First off, the large-scale Cosmere crossover in this book is insane: I don’t want to spoil any of the crossover characters or magics, but know that it is both completely different and far wilder than I ever expected. Major crossover is nothing new– the protagonists of Warbreaker are recurring characters in Stormlight and a pesky storyteller/carriage driver/beggar et al. named Hoid manages to worm his way into every Cosmere novel. However, one familiar face in particular did throw me for a loop while reading The Lost Metal, and the mere taste of a totally foreign magic system unlike anything Cosmerenauts are familiar with is enough to hook me in and of itself.
- The Batman & Robin dynamic of Wax & Wayne is strong as ever. I was talking to my friend about Mistborn and Stormlight recently, and he mentioned that he loves the superhero aspect of Sanderson’s fantasy books. The Lost Metal solidifies this role of hero for Wax and Wayne, pitting them into a battle for the very soul of their world. Interestingly, it also positions Wayne into more of the Batman of the duo. (Maybe the name should have been a clue.) One of my favorite scenes of the book is Wax and Wayne literally just calling a 5 minute break to catch a breather and shoot the shit. It’s wonderful because you get to see the old gang back together one last time, the sheriff and the deputy, but it’s also a silent testament to the bond that the characters have and the effort that Sanderson clearly put into their dialogue, inhabiting their voices and personalities.
- Wayne is genuinely the funniest character I’ve seen in a long time. I try to be aware of it, because I’ve noticed that Sanderson tends to fall into writing a stock comic relief character. No shade to The Lopen, Galladon, or even Wit, but it does get a little old having someone standing around cracking jokes in every scene. That said, Wayne still just guts me. Almost everything he says makes me literally laugh out loud. At the same time, it feels earned. Wayne is a spectrum, a complete person given ample breathing room to explore his nuance. And this is truly his book– in the same way that it’s truly Wax’s.
- Speaking of Wax, there’s an action sequence at the climax that is absolutely begging for a live action recreation. Daredevil hallway and stairwell vibes in every sense.
The Lost Metal has the distinction of being the first Sanderson novel I’ve read at publication. It has a lot to live up to as the lynchpin and climax of Mistborn Era 2, but on a personal level it had an even higher standard in my mind. This was it: the culmination of 2 years of obsessive reading, rereading, wiki scouring, panel watching, theory-crafting. This is what I love. This is what I go to media for. I want to get lost in the sauce, enveloped by the lore as I hyperfocus on every little detail. That little quip about understanding Cosmere physics wasn’t a joke, I’m a fucking dork. But it’s fun to be a dork! And I really can’t stress enough how awesome these books are. Now is the perfect time to jump into the story, with over 20 years of storytelling in the universe to come, backed by the mad genius of the man who wrote 4 extra novels in a year because he was bored. And yes, I will read every single one.