The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
Published: Tor Books (Nov 8, 2011 )
Posted: Goodreads (Jun 18, 2016)
(5 / 5)
Alloy of Law is the beginning of Mistborn Era 2 (the second set of books after the Mistborn Trilogy). While it isn’t the second trilogy’s official beginning, it’s a fun adventure filled with loveable characters in a ten of the century, late 1800s-type setting.
If you love fantasy and Victorian-esque literature (or the brief expansion of the American Midwest during the mid to late 1800s), you’ll thoroughly enjoy Era 2. Just insert automobiles and magic and you’ve got some fun story elements. Since the events of the original series have lead to this world – one without actual Mistborn – the storyline and magic system make sense but cause a rift between the Mistborn world and this timeline.
During the first half of the book the storyline consists of a robbery investigation gently and a cool villain. Fans of the series will pickup on references to the “ancient” Mistborn world and get the sense of something epic in the background as events in Alloy unfold. As the story progresses, you’ll return to the Mistborn world you left behind and there’s plenty of suspense for things to come.
Alloy introduces a new character type to Scadrial, the rare Furachemist/Allomancer mix called a Twinborn and gives us two great protagonists for our future journey. There are no Mistborn or even true Mistings with the ability to burn a specific metal and reap all of its rewards. Here the protagonists have 2 powers, 1 expression of Allomancy (think Steelpushing), and Feru ability like weight control. No other benefits of Steel are possible in the case of Coinshots and, while not as “epic” as in the original trilogy, these powers do play into the meta-story of this Era. (News clippings of what’s happening elsewhere on Scadrial also serve to whet the readers appetite for more.)
If this altering of the original formula sounds strange to you, it did for me too! But the changes are actually well implemented; they play out in enjoyable action packed ways and are fully detailed in only a way Sanderson can accomplish. The two main protagonists are so funny and cool that you’ll no doubt conclude that balance fits the setting better.
Let’s fill up a vial with metal suspended in whiskey and take a closer at the novel…
“I did some researchin’. Real, serious stuff.” He paused. “Why do they call it research if I’ve only done it this one time?”
“Because I’ll bet you had to look things up twice.”
Sanderson’s expert pacing combined with his spot-on humor makes Alloy a lot of fun to read. Some of the jokes are funny while ones interrupting conversations are just as awkwardly amusing as they’d be in real life conversations. Wax and Wayne getting along like brothers will endear you to them immediately.
Wayne is a goof but far from idiotic, his backstory is compelling and and gives you a firm understanding of his character. Wax’s inner conflict – at 40-something years old – really highlights society’s expectations of him versus what’s in his heart. While he’s much more serious than his long gone relative Breeze, he is a true Ladrian, conflicted and free at heart. B.S. also gets romance right, with it, all the positive and negative realities of love.
Alloy of Law is a good idea: introduce the reader into a Mistborn-esque world without throwing the epic world-breaking stuff at us right away. The meta starts trickling in slowly, at 50% in I was tempted to rate Alloy 4/5, but it does fill the Mistborn shoes if you give it time! The storyline and pacing lends a lot to the notion that Shadows of Self is the true beginning of trilogy and, I assure you, by the novel’s conclusion you’ll be hooked.
The connections to the original trilogy are numerous. I can’t list them all. Suffice it to say that Sanderson handles them well. One noteworthy element is how new names are given to important figures are concealed to avoid giving the reader spoilers as to the coming story.
To think that this was a writing exercise that turned into a short bridge connecting the first two Eras is impressive. I started reading Alloy with a lower expectation of its content since it is a short bridge (Sanderson’s primary works are often over 750 pages). This doesn’t hold true, while it seems like part of a larger work, it’s truly a great read.
Great storyline, awesome characters, intriguing world and excellent writing. I’m definitely excited for the direction of the series. 5/5