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The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson Jacob Send a noteboard - 09/11/2011 05:28:05 PM
The Alloy of Law
by Brandon Sanderson
Published by TOR Books

The Alloy of Law is a return to Brandon Sanderson's very popular Mistborn world. Ah, but everything is different. 300 years have passed since the end of The Hero of Ages, and the ending of the old world and the reshaping of a new one. The world is changing, society is industrializing, technology is growing, but there is always someone who would take from others.

Most everyone has heard the story of how this novel came into existence. Sanderson was taking a month or so off from writing on any of his specific projects, recharging his batteries, getting a little break from things. One day, he decided to do a free-write to keep the creative juices flowing, and he hit on an idea, which quickly became a short story, which then became an obsession, and then finally turned into a new, unplanned, short Mistborn novel. Thanks be to unexpectedly profitable free-write sessions.

The Alloy of Law reveals a world very different from the one readers got to know in the first Mistborn trilogy. The main location of the novel is the capital city of Elendel, which is undergoing an industrial revolution. Steam trains and machines run industry, electrical power is just becoming available, firearms are an expected, if somewhat rare, weapon. Outside of the city, the settlements (Roughs) exist in a rough-hewn, old-west style of freedom, crime, and grit.

What about Allomancy, you might be wondering? Well, don't worry, Sanderson hasn't abandoned his thrilling 'magic' system. Though, things have undergone changes. Due to the intermingling of peoples after the reshaping of the world, 300 years ago, Allomantic and Feruchemic powers have been diluted, though they can and often do both manifest in a single individual, called Twinborn, leading to often interesting uses.

The primary character in The Alloy of Law is Waxillium (Wax)Ladrian, a Twinborn who can push metals and can manipulate his own mass, and who has worked as a Roughs lawman for the past 20 years, who has recently hung up his guns to take over the leadership of his House. His time as a lawman ended with him nearly broken, and his new life is one that does not really fit him. Ah, but there is something afoot in Elendel, and it is more dangerous that anyone might expect. A series of high profile but mysterious robberies have taken place, and during these robberies women have been kidnapped. There are more rumors and tall-tales attached to the stories than any known facts. Wax, the retired lawman, might get caught up in it all despite his best intentions.

Wax is joined by his friend and collegue, Wayne, another Twinborn who can slow down time and use Feruchemistry to heal himself, and is also a source of comedy. Other characters come and go throughout the story, all add something to the overall telling. The core characters are well developed for what is a 300 page story that doesn't spend much time on extras or extrapolation.

So, how is the story? Well, it's one of Sanderson's best told stories to date. The writing is concise. The story is well-paced, focused, and engrossing. There is a enough character development, both for Wax and Wayne and for the antagonists to develop a real sense of tension and suspense. The action sequences feature all of Sanderson's well known ability to craft truly page turning, slick, and exciting encounters. The story is fun, exciting, and it keeps the pages turning quickly. When I finished it, I flipped to the first page and read it again.

The primary flaw to the story is that if you haven't read the original Mistborn trilogy you might feel more than a little lost when it comes to the use of the different Allomantic and Feruchemic powers. Sanderson doesn't waste a lot of words on explaining his system, how it works and the ins and outs of it all. He just gets on with having his characters living and doing what they've been doing. That isn't to say that new readers will be lost... they just won't have a background that will lead to easy understanding. That being said, I would say that this story is an excellent entry point for anyone who hasn't read Sanderson and is interested in giving his work a try.

So... impressions. The Alloy of Law reminds me a lot of a pilot episode of a TV show. We start by seeing a scene of back story, after which the reader is thrown into the present, with the primary character, in a different situation and station. Something happens, and the talents thought left behind are needed once again. There is a story, and that story is resolved, but a bigger, underlying story is revealed at the end. The feel of this TV show would be Firefly meets the new Sherlock Holmes movies with a dash of Heroes and The A Team thrown in... I love it when a plan comes together.

While I am an unapologetic fan of most of what Sanderson has written, I believe that The Alloy of Law will have a broad appeal. The book is simply hard to put down. It is filled with some twists, turns, mystery, and a whole lot of quick-paced action. The characters are interesting, and the story features enough moments of depth and character development that the novel goes beyond a simple straight forward action adventure. The Alloy of Law weighs in at 300 pages, more than enough to satisfy as a complete novel, but short enough to be a quick read, lacking a lot of the exposition and extra stuff that most longer novels feature. It is a style that really suits Sanderson's skills as a storyteller and writer.

So... I absolutely loved it. I really hope that Sanderson comes back to these characters and the greater story that he developed over the course of the novel. Even if he doesn't, though, The Alloy of Law is certainly a book most will enjoy thoroughly.

The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
TOR Books
Available Now
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The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson - 09/11/2011 05:28:05 PM 9387 Views
Some additional thoughts. - 09/11/2011 07:25:25 PM 1647 Views
I'll have to give it a go - 10/11/2011 05:52:33 AM 1578 Views
I don't have much time these days either... - 10/11/2011 12:51:34 PM 1466 Views
I hear that! - 10/11/2011 02:10:04 PM 1531 Views
I haven't gotten around to that one yet. - 11/11/2011 03:10:58 PM 1490 Views
Re: Cinematic - 14/11/2011 06:18:38 AM 1556 Views
That is one of Sanderson's strengths... - 09/12/2011 06:48:28 PM 1461 Views
Wow, only 300 pages? Is this his shortest book? - 10/11/2011 04:13:19 PM 1504 Views
Yes... - 10/11/2011 06:17:36 PM 1586 Views
Great book. - 10/11/2011 05:24:35 PM 1420 Views
I read it on vacation this past summer. - 11/11/2011 03:11:46 PM 1561 Views
When I closed the book at the end - 11/11/2011 03:43:24 PM 1526 Views
Re: The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson - 11/11/2011 11:35:50 PM 1456 Views
That's unfortunate if true... - 12/11/2011 04:12:06 AM 1645 Views
Just read it. Liked it very much. *NM* - 13/11/2011 07:47:17 PM 874 Views

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