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Review: The Alloy of Law

November 16, 2011

Title: The Alloy of Law

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Read this: if you read the original Mistborn books and thought “whoever invents plastic is going to make bank!”  Conversely, read this for a lighter, shorter intro to the series.

The short version: it’s fantasy with shootouts and train heists.  If that idea doesn’t appeal to you, think again: odds are this book will win you over.

Set in Brandon Sanderson’s bestselling Mistborn universe, but in a far-off future time (with guns! and trains!), The Alloy of Law is a rollicking fantasy adventure and Wild West detective story rolled into one.

With guns.  And trains!  If you’re like me (or like Sanderson himself, as it turns out), you might have misgivings about pairing those elements with the phrase “fantasy novel.”

When I actually sat down with the book, though, I was a quick and easy convert.  The original Mistborn trilogy features an inventive and full-featured system of magic in which gifted Allomancers access their powers by ingesting and then “burning” various metals.  Two of the most flamboyant of those powers include the ability to “Push” or “Pull” against metal objects–thus allowing those Allomancers to soar seemingly effortlessly through the urban night sky.  Or, of course, to Push against incoming bullets to halt them in their tracks.  The magic of Mistborn requires a keen sense of physics and an eye for a good action sequence to do well.  Fortunately for us, Sanderson has both in spades.

Mistborn’s metal-based magic also makes the series a prime candidate for an industrial-age update, and The Alloy of Law is both thoughtful and buckets of fun.  Quirks like the Allomantic inertness of aluminum lead to high-stakes aluminum smuggling and train heists, while the book is peppered with physically inventive action scenes–including the railway outlaw adventure’s requisite chase atop a speeding train.  Thanks to Sanderson’s world-building skill, the future setting feels authentic to the original trilogy.  Characters occasionally refer vaguely to events and people from the original books, but only by legendary epithets centuries in the making (and now the foundations of churches).

Protagonist Waxillium (“Wax” during his more adventurous moments) is a lord who’s spent years out in a wild frontier town as a lawman, but is dragged back to the capital to head up his family’s holdings after his uncle’s untimely death.  But he can’t escape his past, even down to his friend and sidekick Wayne (say it with me: Wax and Wayne), whose master-of-disguise schtick and witty buddy banter are some of the book’s highlights.

While not as epic as the original books, The Alloy of Law clearly isn’t trying to be.  It’s fun, funny, and chock full of the strong characters, both male and female, that I’ve come to expect from Sanderson.  There are even a couple of unexpected twists to round out the ending.  You should pick up a copy to find out what they are.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2011 1:54 PM

    Oh my GOD this book is so good! And way to point out the ‘Wax and Wayne’ thing that I definitely didn’t get until I said them out loud.

    I’m excited for sequels!!!

    • November 16, 2011 2:03 PM

      Yup! He should probably finish WoT first, though, or Fans Will Be Angry.

      • Mary Buchner permalink
        January 25, 2012 8:29 PM

        i just saw this comment, and OHMYGOODNESS you have no idea. Thankfully, he seems to be on top of everything. Also, so sad that you’re not going to be able to review it. Maybe if you start now you can catch up… in three years. :)

  2. November 30, 2011 11:18 PM

    I am a big fan of the original Mistborn Trilogy. After reading what you have to say, I know I have to read this book. I’m kind of wondering if this book was written to take a brake from WoT and the Stormlight Archive. That might explain the funny and fun parts. Thanks for the insight:)


    • December 1, 2011 11:35 AM

      Thanks! I think he must be taking a break from the back-breaking heft of those two series–especially as he’s just starting the one and finishing the other (under a ton of pressure from fans, too). This one’s definitely a lighter read. Enjoy it!


  1. The Alloy of Law – A Fun Read « Teegan Purrington: Chimera Muses

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