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Literature / The Bands of Mourning

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WARNING: Late Arrival Spoilers abound for previous books in Wax and Wayne.

Third book in the Wax and Wayne series.

Six months have passed since Wax was called to do Harmony's dirty work, and he is finally getting married to Steris. Despite a shootout shortly before the wedding, he manages to make it mostly on time. The scars from Lessie's death haven't quite healed, but he is able to put it aside and go through with the marriage. Midway through the ceremony, however, the church is attacked, and Wax barely manages to get himself and Steris to safety in time.

Shortly before the wedding, Wax was approached by a kandra mentioning that Harmony has been conspicuously silent, and they want Wax's help to find out what's going on. He refuses, but kandra are not known for giving up easily...

And then of course there are the Bands of Mourning, the metalminds belonging to the Lord Ruler himself, said to give any wearer the godlike Feruchemical/Allomantic abilities that he used to rule the world for over a thousand years. Most people dismiss them as superstition, but some scholars and adventurers have found some promising leads, and Wax's uncle might be after them as well...


This book provides examples of:

  • Amusing Injuries: Downplayed with MeLaan. As a kandra, injuries can hurt, but aren't fatal, and can be ignored if she shuts off nerves. Her being able to reduce everything into Amusing Injuries lets them set off traps in the Bands of Mourning's temple with impunity.
    • However, while she can mend any flesh wound, she can't repair any damage to her skeleton directly, causing her body to distort further and further as she is forced to keep an increasing number of broken and shattered bones together with awkward improvised muscles. The result is Body Horror even more nauseating than your average Kandra fare, and it's unpleasant and crippling to MeLaan herself, leading to her getting easily overpowered near the end of the book.
  • And a Diet Coke: Played for laughs when Steris carries steel flakes suspended in cod liver oil for Wax, since it's healthier than whiskey and she wants him to live healthier... never mind he needs those steel flakes to get into insanely violent Allomantic gunfights.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Steris and Wax kiss for the first time after flying above the Mists.
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  • Blood Magic: We get another glimpse into Spook's hemalurgy research. Beyond the basics of killing someone for their power by tacking their soul onto yours, hemalurgy can also rewrite a soul depending on how the spike is used, explaining some of the creatures the Lord Ruler and Bleeder were able to create. The Set has also advanced their own research into hemalurgy, although we don't see dead victims, just the results. They have learned the upper limit of "How many spikes before Harmony takes over", namely, three hemalurgic boons. Most of the Set leadership has access to stolen powers now.
  • Book Safe: Steris takes a knife to her book of contingency plans to hide one of the open-use brassminds just in case.
  • Book-Ends: Going all the way back to The Final Empire. Both its prologue and this book's epilogue have Kelsier wandering into a hovel full of a broken down group of people, out of seemingly dangerous conditions, intent on helping them in his own egotistical and self serving way.
  • Brick Joke: During a conversation with Marasi regarding the culture of the Southern airship crew, Allik mentions that social decorum is extremely valued and things like the ability to dance well are important, even mentioning a friend of his who was thrown overboard (while tied to the ship still and eventually pulled back up) for his terrible dancing. During the climax, while rescuing the remnants of his crew Captain Jordis mentions her mild dislike of Allik and comments on how at least his dancing ability has improved, implying Allik was actually the man thrown overboard.
  • The Cameo:
    • Hoid's back, and taking an active hand in the plot this time. Poses as a beggar outside the New Seran party, and when Wax gives him money, hands back "change"... in the form of a special coin related to his search, that Wax uses to get answers much more quickly than would otherwise be possible... and then doubles down as an open coppermind, containing a suggestion that someone is Not Quite Dead...
      • He also appears in the story from New Seran's broadsheet New Ascendancy "Nicki Savage, Paranormal Detective in The Constructs of Antiquity" as a young white-haired man who offers to tell Nicki a story (which is his typical modus operandi). She declines.
    • Khriss, the historian from the Seventeenth Shard who is the In-Universe author of the appendices at the back of all Cosmere books, dances with Wax at the party in New Seran, asking him questions about his powers.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The spear tip and the coin.
    • Ranette's sphere devices (basically, an improved version of hook-and-line especially for Coinshots). Wax gets three of them at the begining of his journey to New Seran and uses them to illustrate a talking point to Steris. In the fights that follow, each of the three spheres has its use and is accounted for.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Averted for kandra, even if they're shapeshifters instead of robots. Kandra generally keep their brain anywhere on their bodies but their heads, since they know that's where people aim. MeLaan prefers a metal container in her thigh.
    Marasi: So what's in your head?
    MeLaan: Eyes, sensory apparatus, and an emergency canteen.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Steris. To such an incredible (and open and honest) degree that she's quickly becoming a serious partner to her originally distant fiancé.
    • Steris had six copies of their wedding pendants made. Considering that four of them never made it to the church, this falls into Properly Paranoid. She also had two backup dresses and scheduled a second ceremony at a different church for two months later in case the first church exploded. And the church was indeed ruined by a water tower being rigged to collapse, both requiring a backup wedding and ruining her dress.
    • On arriving at their lodgings in New Seran, she gives a list of possible disaster scenarios to their proprietress, along with response instructions for each. Successfully turned into a Brick Joke when one actually does.
    • Started stocking vials of steel flakes on herself, anticipating Wax getting into trouble and running out. And earplugs for her and her sister.
    • Wax and Steris attend a political party hosted by some shady people. Planning on Wax's usual event-filled life, and anticipating he wouldn't be allowed to take his guns in, she tapes a spare to her leg. And adds extra layers of clothing to prevent embarrassment when he needs to retrieve it. At the same party, she also carries a mixture to induce vomiting, in case someone wanted to poison them. Turns out, it has other uses as well.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Survivorist religion has always looked very similar to Christianity, and their weddings are no exception. They have pendants instead of rings, girls spreading ash instead of flowers, and the guests are segregated into bride and groom sections. Even their wedding clothes are very similar, though there doesn't appear to be any superstition about seeing the bride before the ceremony. Oh, and their Crystal Dragon also managed to come back to life somehow, and left behind a spearhead-shaped relic, and hid it in a temple heavily armed with traps, guarded by the faithful behind a trap where runes spell out something significant to the Crystal Dragon, with the relic hidden in plain sight to be found only when the hero seeking it puts themselves in the mindset of the Crystal Dragon to decipher where the relic is really hidden.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Like Preservation before him, Harmony greets the souls of everyone who dies on Scadrial before they pass Beyond.
  • Dramatic Drop: At the very end, after seeing the memory on the coppermind, which reveals that the Southerners' "Sovereign" is apparently Kelsier, Wax drops the coppermind on the floor.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Rare literary version, when Wayne gets pissed enough to pick up Wax's shotgun and try and kill Telsin.
    Telsin: You– you can't– guns–
    Wayne: Yeah. [racks shotgun] About that. [Boom]
  • Evil All Along: Telsin. Not only is she a Set member of apparently higher rank than Suit, she recruited him.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Mr. Suit equates Wax's drive as a lawman to a hunger for violence and death, when his goals are something more noble;
  • Exact Words: Allik tells the crew that before he arrived to the south, the Sovereign was a king, then a god. When Wax tells him the Lord Ruler died, he replies that the Sovereign told that too. He never says those two were the same person.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Set clearly don't see the Southerners as human, and have no problem torturing them in order to discover the secrets of their technology. They also disparagingly refer to kandra as "creatures".
  • Fastball Special: Apparently a move that Wax and Wayne have pulled in the past, although mostly as a way of infiltrating past a line of guards. They call it a Spoiled Tomato because Wayne tends to splash.
  • Flight of Romance: At one point, Wax uses his Steelpushing on a misty night to show Steris the "Ascendant Fields": the top of the mists. It's here they have their first Big Damn Kiss.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Everything about the Bands of Mourning seems to make no sense, as the characters point out repeatedly. Why would the Lord Ruler make a weapon anyone can use? Why would he tell the southerners where to find the Bands, then forbid them from looking? Why all the tricks and traps with the temple? None of it makes any sense... for the Lord Ruler. It makes perfect sense for Kelsier.
    • As early as the 4th chapter, why would a temple about the Lord Ruler and his Bands have spear iconography in the murals? After all, who is the spear a symbol of in this world?
  • Fridge Logic: In universe, Khriss asks Wax how changing his weight affects his Coinshot powers, and openly wonders why speed bubbles don't create a red-shift (according to Word of God, it's a required secondary power to keep Wayne from microwaving himself).
  • Game Changer: One of the biggest limitations of Mistborn's Metallic Arts was that one had to be born with the power to access them, and the potential is inherited. Most of the lucky gifted are then only given access to one Art with one metal, and further feruchemical metalminds can only be drawn on by the person who stored power in them. The only exception to this was killing and stealing another's power via hemalurgy. Now, research into nicrosil, long included in the metal charts but never explained, allows for the creation of open metalminds, usable by any random person who picks one up. Nicrosil also allows the storage of allomancy powers, breaking open those magics for anyone to use as well. A source of the original magic is needed, and there seems to be new limits with combining magics, but this one metal can potentially change everything in the Elendel Basin. The Southerners and their Magitek are a taste of things to come.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: Discussed with Wax by Harmony, who acknowledges that he could intervene, but states that as soon as he did so openly, people would keep asking for more of the same. Not to mention, he is a bit busy trying to keep some unknown power out of Scadrial.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Being Harmony's servant, kandra VenDell is by definition one of the good guys. However, he is also highly irritating, obnoxious, patronizing and has no people skills. Wax has a very strong urge to punch him, and MeLaan admits she feels the same.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: All the members of the Set and their servants appear to bow to a pre-Final-Empire god named Trell, whom Marasi has been trying to get details on. The epilogue shows that Trell is very much an active god who hails from some other world (he could possibly be Odium from The Stormlight Archive or Autonomy from White Sand) and seems to be finding ways to manifest power on Scadrial despite Harmony keeping him at bay. One of its servants implies that their original plan for the Set takeover is no longer stable enough, so the new plan is destroying all life on Scadrial.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power:
    • When they discover the Magitek device that can essentially function as an Allomantic grenade, Marasi's power becomes quite useful, as she can now throw the device and capture someone else in a slow bubble. A Leecher with the Set uses the device in a similar manner earlier, draining Wax of his Allomantic Reserves.
    • The iron metalminds enhanced with nicrosil Feruchemy allow anyone to store weight and make themselves lighter, which, as it turns out, is incredibly useful when in a flying machine where every ounce counts.
  • Hidden Depths: Once again, we get to see more behind Steris' stoic facade. She is extremely nervous before the wedding, and reveals that while she knows she can't plan for everything, she at least feels better for trying. She's also deeply insecure due to her lack of social skills her entire life, and is planning to start learning skills that will help her on adventures.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Kelsier hid the Bands of Mourning in the form of a spearhead on the statue of him in front of the temple (which appears to be aluminum at first glace). Then, he armed a corridor with booby-traps galore, only for the room at the end to contain a shattered case, as if the bands had been stolen. A second decoy is in a lower room along with the bodies of the ones who constructed the temple, all to distract from the spearhead. He is a con-man, after all.
  • Historical In-Joke: The Southerners, who come across as aliens, are flying around in super-advanced airships that they run like a pleasure cruise. Some of the first alien sightings were mysterious airships, full of people on pleasure cruises.
  • Hostile Terraforming: Sazed/Harmony saved Scadrial by reforming it from Ruin's damage and creating the Elendel Basin so the survivors of the Final Empire could live in relative comfort. The people inhabiting the other side of the planet, however, had long adapted to their overheated conditions, and were freezing to death in the new "normal" climate. It took a very different divine intervention for their society to survive and adapt.
  • Human Aliens: The Southerners give this impression, despite being of terrestrial origin. They have very advanced technology and have been secretly flying airships over the northern lands for some time. And the investigation by the Set of a wrecked airship plays out exactly like stealing the technology of a crashed UFO. The only biological oddity about them is that they can survive scalding temperatures, and will freeze to death in even mildly cold weather without the help of their allomantic technology.
  • Incompatible Orientation: This book finally confirms that Wayne's crush, Ranette, is a lesbian.
    Marasi: She has a girlfriend, Wayne.
    Wayne: 'S only a phase. One what lasted fifteen years...
  • Interspecies Romance: Once Wayne moves on from Ranette, he quickly finds the next most implausible relationship. Wayne and MeLaan. Wax thinks they were taken in the train battle until he finds them stuffed in a luggage compartment in significant undress and completely oblivious to the attack.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Karma finally catches up with Suit in his jail cell when the mysterious power behind the Set decide he has served well, and he will be allowed to serve further in another Realm.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Discussed. When they finally talk, Wax rages over Harmony's manipulations that forced him to kill Lessie a second time. Harmony bluntly turns it around on him, noting Wax's hatred is also self-hatred. Wax knows, and finally admits, that with how far gone Bleeder was, even knowing Bleeder was Lessie, he would still have tried to take her out. Harmony in turn admits he hid Bleeder's identity to save Wax the pain of that crisis, of having to shoot her, or failing to, knowing she was mad and suffering.
  • Magitek: The southern people have discovered how to manipulate the Metallic Arts with technology, allowing them to create Push-powered airships. Best of all, however, is their use of nicrosil feruchemy to create simple feruchemical tokens that anyone can use. Their airships, for example, require all their passengers to wear iron discs so they can store weight and reduce the load.
  • Man Behind the Man: Wax's sister Telsin is not a hostage, but a member of the Set, and outranks Suit.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Wayne and MeLaan. He's thirty-some and she's about six hundred and virtually immortal, not to mention a Gender Bender. However, they do get along fabulously.
  • The Mole: Telsin plays along with Wax's rescue, acting the bit of a traumatized survivor, but Wax does put it together. Just a hair too late.
  • Mook Horror Show: The first chapter of the book starts from the perspective of a common criminal whose gang is in a fight with Wax and Wayne. It makes it very clear just how terrifyingly unstoppable those two are for regular, non-powered opponents.
  • Mundane Solution: The Set captured the Southerners, dismantled their airship, and started torturing them to discover how their technology worked. It never occurred to them to just patch the poor souls up and politely ask for details. It took them months to get even the slightest idea of how the technology worked, but Wax's crew got answers from Allik in a few hours just by showing him some common decency.
  • Nature Abhors a Virgin: Played with. Steris is a little too fascinated with a book on the train ride. Wax nicks it and find out that it's a book on sexual anatomy and reproduction. They are both mortified. Steris naturally has no experience. She's been trying to learn more, but nobody has any interest in discussing details with her.
    Steris: I know the basics; I'm not an idiot. But I need to provide an heir. It's vital. How am I supposed to do this properly if I don't have any information? I tried to interview some prostitutes about it–
    Wax: Wait. You did?
  • Never My Fault: Wax was mad at Harmony for keeping the truth about Lessie from him, true, but he also projected his self-hatred at having to kill Lessie/Bleeder at Harmony.
  • Noodle Incident: Wayne has apparently had to impersonate Death on four occasions.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: When Wax is dead, Harmony shows him the threat of what is apparently another god towards Scadrial, and tells him that he's not sure what it is.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • It is suggested by both the myth of the Bands of Mourning and what little is gleaned of the Southerners' religion that the Lord Ruler was arranging some things even after his death and after Harmony's Ascension. Some details never quite line up though, like being depicted with a spike in one eye and carrying a spear. It's strongly implied by the end that it's another legendary character, who is also supposed to be dead. Twice over. Kelsier.
      Allik: The Sovereign was our king from three centuries ago. He told us he was your king first. And your god.
      Wax: The Lord Ruler? He died.
      Allik: Yes. He told us that too.
    • Marasi manages to get the Bands to Wax before his soul passes Beyond, allowing them to heal him.
  • Not So Different: Everything about Wax and Steris in this book.
    • Steris is hyper aware of all the rules of society, and finds herself isolated when she can't figure out the proper social responses, and won't just naturally fit in. She explains this to Wax not two minutes after he muses similar thoughts about his handling of the party.
    • Wax can't understand why Steris is so interested in the house financials, not seeing that his own reaction is a result of his uncle's influence on his childhood. Steris explains it in his idiom of investigation, like putting a story together from a hundred different pieces, and he is soon digging into some unbalanced accounts beside her with amusement.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Wayne is so mad about Telsin's betrayal, Wax's death and MeLaan left mindless after her spikes were removed that he manages to pick up a shotgun and shoot Telsin, if non-fatally.
  • Physical God: The Bands of Mourning grant anyone full access to the Lord Ruler's powers. Fans have speculated for years how stupidly overpowered a full Mistborn/Feruchemist like the Lord Ruler would be — and it turns out that they were severely underestimating it. Marasi taps so much speed she leaves behind a vacuum when she moves (then throttles it back to merely causing a sonic boom), and has Steelpushing and Ironpulling strong enough that she can fly by pushing off the trace metals in the ground. When she gives the Bands to Wax, there's enough healing power to bring him back from the dead, then he flies over to his uncle's airship, increases his weight enough to keep it from flying away, increases his mental speed enough that he can calculate all possible outcomes in the time between one spoken word and the next, has his tin flaring hard enough that he can hear someone talking in the engineering bay on the other side of the ship, and finally is able to Pull the ship down to the ground when it tries to fly away again. He can even see and recognize people's souls. And this still wasn't utilizing the powers to their fullest extent.
  • Public Domain Artifact: An expy of it anyway. The Survivor's Spear, which makes you a Physical God, is standing in for The Lance of Longinus. Especially because both Christ and Kelsier were pierced by a spear — although in the case of Christ it was just to make sure He was dead. The only important difference is that the Survivor's Spear isn't the weapon that killed Kelsier, but rather an artifact he made later to match his own religious iconography.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Wax to Harmony, for keeping him in the dark about who kandra Paalm really was and as a result, making him kill his beloved wife Lessie. Again. He gets over it.
  • Recoiled Across The Room: Happens a few times thanks to the massive new shotgun Ranette built for Wax, designed to take down Pewterarms and koloss-blooded. The first time, a bandit just breaks his hand trying to fire it from the hip during a Traintop Battle. Moments later in the same battle, Steris tries firing it from a properly braced, kneeling position, and is thrown clear off the train. Finally, near the end of the book, Wax fires it at a Coinshot, who gets Blown Across the Room without even touching the bullet when he tried to Push it away. Ranette specifically states it was designed to be used in conjunction with Wax increasing his weight with Feruchemy to handle the recoil.
  • Refusing Paradise: Waxillium Ladrian dies of gunshot wounds from Telsin, and crushing rock from a trap Suit triggered. After being greeted by Harmony and talking a bit, he offers Wax his hands. In one hand is what Wax calls freedom, an adventure into the unknown beyond. In the other hand, which Wax calls duty and Harmony calls just a different adventure, is Marasi giving the Bands to Wax's corpse and begging him to use them to heal. Wax chooses to return with zero hesitation.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After watching Telsin tear out MeLaan's spikes and leave her for dead, and then witnessing Wax die from wounds she inflicted, Wayne is pissed enough to ignore his gun phobia, track her down, and put a shotgun blast in her back before she escapes. Then another to her face. Somewhat subverted — he noticed she had gold metalminds for healing, and allowed her to escape once he got the spikes back to restore MeLaan, figuring Wax would've done the same.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: We get to see how others react to this trope when Elendel's new governor complains to Wax, at the end of the book, that it really isn't fair that Wax can do whatever he wants, cause whatever problems he wants, and then have one of Harmony's own Faceless Immortals explain things.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: Marasi has this as a reflexive reaction when a train robber takes a human shield against her, leaving her shocked at her own ruthlessness.
  • Shout Out:
  • Showdown at High Noon: Subverted. Wax himself claims that he's conducted testing and such showdowns make no sense, as the one that draws first, always shoots first. And when his clueless uncle Suit proposes a shooting duel, Wax does not shoot but throws himself at Suit — getting shot in the process — and then uses his Allomancy and Feruchemy to defeat him.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Played with, though the line is never invoked. Wax and Steris' wedding is ruined in the opening pages. Wax was having a bit of a panic but was proceeding, when a nearby water tower is tipped and dumped on the church, flooding it out. Wayne set up the sabotage, thinking Wax wasn't ready yet so soon after losing Lessie for the second time, and having a mild ship for Wax and Marasi.
  • Theme Naming: The Set's leader is called the Sequence, both mathematical terms. A rank within the Set is called an Array. In Suit's conversation with Trell's servant, it speaks in a very logical, almost calculated fashion, possibly hinting at the nature of Trell.
  • The "The" Title Confusion: A victim of it on This Very Wiki. There is, in fact, a definite article in the title.
  • They Do: Having been through hell and back on this trip, and finding much more in common with each other than their initial agreement suggested, Wax dispenses with Steris' contract arrangements, and flat out proposes to her with a priest standing by. She emphatically says yes.
  • Train Job: Wax and company are on the receiving end of one as their train is attacked on the way to New Seran. Lampshaded to the point of mockery; Wax thinks they must have gotten their ideas from too many pulp stories, as he's never actually seen anyone try to rob a moving train on horseback instead of just forcing the train to stop. The cliché dutifully includes a safe fall into a river and a Traintop Battle.
  • Translator Microbes: Duralumin metalminds can be filled with a "blank connection" to no place. When you tap it, it automatically connects you to the nearest land, making your soul think you were born there and allowing you to speak the language. When paired with nicrosil, anyone can use it, but it only works for visitors to a land, since it's just redundant if someone from a land uses it to connect to that same land.
  • Villain Has a Point: As the book wears on, it becomes increasingly clear that the outer cities have genuine grievances against Elendel. While comparing Elendel's economic hegemony to the Final Empire's tyranny is laughable, the situation does bear quite a bit of resemblance to events that caused real-world revolutions. Of course, the Set is intentionally making things worse, inflaming the populace and squashing any possibility of a non-violent solution. Many of them are Elendel nobles, but they only used their positions to make things worse. They actually owned the governor outright for a time, but still only ramped up tensions.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Mr. Suit sets a great one up, reinforcing his Magnificent Bastard tendencies. Wax is puzzled by inconsistencies in the Train Job, and is requested to help collar the rest of the gang, but regretfully declines to get to New Seran. Once there, he finds a symbol left by a serial killer and is sprinting towards the latest crime scene before he stops himself and focuses back on the task at hand. Both were diversions set up by Suit, playing on Wax's tendency to jump at dangling plot threads to draw him away from the case. When these fail and Wax catches Suit's Dragon at a rally against Elendel, the Dragon is killed, and Wax framed for it, sparking civil war between the outer cities and Elendel, forcing Wax to deal with anything other than Suit. Amazingly, this doesn't take, possibly due to Wax's sister being on the line.
  • Wham Line: Spoken in a coppermind memory, to suggest that the ancient historical figure behind the Bands of Mourning and the Southerners' mythology is not actually the Lord Ruler.
    Kelsier: Survive.
  • Wham Shot: Wax accesses the coppermind and watches a memory of the Sovereign, the man who saved the Southerners from death. He still assumes that the Sovereign is the Lord Ruler, until the man crouches down and places his hand on the shoulder of an old woman, revealing his arm is absolutely Covered in Scars . . . and there is only one character in Mistborn known to have scarring like that.
  • Worst Wedding Ever: At the beginning Wax is getting married to lady Steris, even though he feels he is not ready yet. There are some small disturbances, such as missing wedding pendants but it all seems to go smoothly... up to the moment when a nearby water tower crashes onto the church. Which turns out to be the work of Wayne who believes Wax should marry Marasi instead..

Alternative Title(s): Bands Of Mourning


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