Book Review: The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

Written by: Brandon Sanderson
Release Date: November 8, 2011
Pages: 332, Hardback
Series: Mistborn, #4
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In the three hundred years since the events of the Mistborn trilogy, science and technology have marched on. Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads, electric lighting, and even the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Yet even with these advances, the magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for those attempting to establish order and justice.

One is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax must now put away his guns and assume the duties incumbent upon the head of a noble house–until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

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The Alloy of Law is very different from the original Mistborn trilogy. Where the original trilogy was epic fantasy, this is a sort of Western steampunk. There are less mindblowing plot twists, and more witty banter sequences. It’s still amazing, of course. The characters are well developed, the action sequences are exciting, and the story moves quickly and keeps my attention all the way through.

While you could technically read and enjoy this without having read the original trilogy, I highly recommend reading the original trilogy first. There are a lot of references to the first three books, a lot of nostalgic moments that made me smile. There are even several appearances of original trilogy characters–obviously I can’t say who without it being a spoiler. (Also, reading the original trilogy will make your life significantly better I’M JUST SAYING.)

Mostly, this book was just so. much. fun. Fun characters, fun setting, fun action, fun dialogue… I read The Alloy of Law in about two sittings and I am eagerly awaiting the next book. (See, this is why I love Brandon “oops I accidentally wrote two whole books in addition to the other many books I’m working on that are being released soon and will no doubt be awesome” Sanderson.) If you read it expecting the epicness and scope of Mistborn, you may be disappointed. But as a light read with entertaining characters and original ideas, The Alloy of Law works spectacularly well.

Didn'tWorkDon’t you just LOVE when fictional narratives open with a female character being killed to create angst for the male protagonist? *deep sighs* I sure don’t.

DidWorkI was not expecting this book to be quite so hilarious! The original trilogy had its witty banter moments, but here I burst out laughing every couple of pages. Waxilium, Wayne, and Marasi played off each other brilliantly, and the dialogue is hilarious.

“Wayne’s a little attached to that hat,” Waxillium said. “He thinks it’s lucky.”
Wayne: “It is lucky. I ain’t never died while wearing that hat.”
Marasi frowned. “I … I’m not sure I know how to respond.”
Wax: “That’s a common reaction to Wayne.”

As a result, I have the deepest affection for our three protagonists. I haven’t quite connected with them to the extent that I did with Vin and Elend and Kelsier and those guys, but I still enjoy their interactions and want to hug them all.

I have a particular level of appreciation for Marasi. She’s pretty different from what we’re trained to see as a “kickass protagonist”–she’s inexperienced and blushes a lot and loves wearing dresses and doesn’t like shooting people and gets adorably excited about crime statistics–but she’s totally smart and brave and awesome in her own way.

In The Alloy of Law, the world has evolved a lot from when we last saw it. The technology is now on turn-of-the-twentieth-century level, with trains and cars and guns. Aside from the fact that this is the only time I’ve seen a fantasy world in a book* evolve into one with relatively modernized technology, the combination of technology and magic leads to some extremely fun action scenes. (Brandon Sanderson is consistently the only writer whose action scenes I actually care about. There are else several newspaper sections added in; I love extra things like this so much and appreciate the dimension they give the world. There are also pretty major changes in the magic system–the addition of two new metals, for one, and the existence of Twinborn, who have on Allomantic and one Feruchemical power. I just love how much Brandon Sanderson changed things up–it made for a new and exciting world, with bits of the old story I’d loved still mixed in.
(*I specify “in a book” because I have seen something like this happen from Avatar to Legend of Korra!)

Everything I’ve said in my reviews of other Brandon Sanderson stands true here as well. The pacing is great, the plot is great, the world is great (despite the fact that I would actually have liked to know more about what it’s like now? but I guess there are more books to explore that). As always, Brandon Sanderson tells a delightful, original story, and I have yet another anticipated release on my TBR.

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If you liked Mistborn and want more of the world and/or need something to cheer you up after The Hero of Ages, definitely pick this up.

Polina 

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

    • Thank you! Now that I’ve read Mistborn, I just want to read everything Brandon Sanderson has written ever–I’m so so excited for Stormlight Archive in particular.

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