Review: Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

Posted on 04 November 2011

Chapter Eight: “A Name”

So, I feel like I’m becoming a bit of a Sanderson expert. I’ve read all of his published work except for his thesis and that new media tie-in piece he did, and I am acquainted with him from conventions, and I correspond with his assistant Peter from time to time. So, I sometimes feel a little biased when I review one of Brandon’s books. Well, biased isn’t the right word. See, I love Sanderson’s writing, and Alloy of Law has been no exception, but I’m not going to give anything he writes a five-star pass. In fact, I might be more tending to be harsher in my criticism, or at least more specific, as I am conscious of my propensity to want to give him a five-star pass, thus I raise the bar. Is it fair, no. Is it me and still an honest review, yeah. Anyway, spoiler-free! So, on with the show!
Alloy of Law is a sort-of sequel to the Mistborn trilogy, only it takes place 300 years later and with entirely new characters and a new take on the magic system. Now, our main character, Wax, is not a mistborn himself as Vin was, but instead is a “Twinborn”, a man who can use 1 of the 16 metals for Allomancy and 1 of the 16 metals for Furuchemy. In his case, he can push metal with his Allomancy and store weight with his Furuchemy. I won’t go into that more, because the book actually does it ad nauseum. More on that in a bit. Anyway, Wax is a law keeper from the world’s version of the Wild West that has returned to civilization to take his place as a house lord, but is quickly drawn into the investigation of a mysterious set of crimes.

So, as always, the good stuff first. The writing is strong and enjoyable, much as I’ve come to expect from Sanderson. The story, much like the prior Mistborn novels, is very character driven, with strong personalities and plenty of banter that hides info dumps and “slow parts”. This book is also meant as an entry point to the Mistborn world, and I even tested that by having a friend of mine read it that had not read Mistborn and then discussed the book with him. In this highly unscientific method, Sanderson succeeded. He doesn’t give any spoilers for the prior books while still leaving plenty of hints and clues for those of us that have read them. If you don’t get the hints and clues, you still enjoy the book. If you do, you get a chuckle or a “oh…” type moment.

On to what I didn’t like so much. One: I can tell this was (I think) a bit rushed in the production due to Wheel of Time. This kind of doesn’t make sense, seeing as Sanderson completed this nearly a half year before it hit the bookshelves, at least that is when the advanced copies were starting to appear, but from what I have followed of Brandon, Alloy was really just a spin-off exercise on writing he was doing to stretch his mind that ended up becoming book length. Because of that, it has some weaknesses.

The first is that I think Brandon goes a little overboard on re-explaining the magic. Yes, I have three much longer books under my belt explaining this magic system to me, and this book is supposed to cater to new readers as much as returning, but when there are asides in the last fight repeating, and I do mean fully repeating, how the two halves of Wax’s magic work and interact, it seems a little overboard. Also, the last fight’s choreography was a bit trite, even if the major points were pretty awesome. The stuff that connected them was, well, not hard or boring to read, but after a while I started saying “I get it, Wax can shoot the wings off a fly at 100 yards.”

My final complaint is that the ending was… well, lacking. Several times in the novel, they go on and on about the “reason behind the crimes.” They set up a master-mind king-pin type character that Wax has to face off against. Okay, that is well and good. Wax never faces off against him. Again, not all bad. The ending is very much saying “There will be a sequel”. But what makes all this annoying to me is that, in all of the marketing and blogging about this book, it was marketed as a “Stand Alone”. That means the main drive of the plot, if not every single thread, is wrapped up in a tight bow by the end. That this book is probably half the length of a normal Sanderson novel really makes me feel like I got half a book, not the whole one, especially with all of the major plot threads.

So, spoiler-free short? This is a great book, but Sanderson leaves us hanging a little bit with it. I know recent marketing schemes have called it “A Mistborn Adventures Book”, so hopefully there will be sequels.

1 comment to Review: Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

  • […] Around The Blogosphere Guest Post: Brandon has a guest post on the Tor/Forge blog discussing his thoughts on guns in fantasy, and The Alloy of Law in particular.. Review: Elitist Book Reviews Review: Neth Space Review: SFF World Review: Pat's Fantasy Hotlist (in which Sanderson is once again accused of writing YA fantasy. Anyone else besides me tired of hearing 80s & 90s style fantasy being termed YA? Ack, had more to say on this but deleted it. Will just leave it at alone.) Review: Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin' News & Reviews Review: A Dribble of Ink Review: The Happy Booker Review: The Ramblings of Richard Fife […]

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