Book Review: “The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel” by Brandon Sanderson

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old 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 the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such 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 has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, 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.

The Alloy of Law is a pseudo-standalone novel because you can read it without ever having read the preceding trilogy and get a completely packaged story, or you can read it after having read the Mistborn books and get a complete story with a smattering of fun nuggets that make it even better. In my mind, that is part of the reason Brandon Sanderson has risen so quickly to the top as an author.

This installment in the Mistborn universe is significantly shorter than the others, but that’s alright because the comedic adventures of Wax and Wayne take center stage. It isn’t often that the protagonist in science fiction and fantasy is given the chance to banter with their sidekick. But, I certainly love it when it happens. I’ll take a sarcastic, yet funny bit of dialogue between two incredible well-written characters for 300 pages over something else running 1000 pages any day of the week. I sure do love me some wit and humor. For example:

Wayne walked over, glancing at the apparatus set up on the desk. “I’m not sure if I want to touch any of this, mate. I’m rather fond of all of my fingers.”
“It’s not going to explode, Wayne,” he said dryly.
“You said that—”
“It happened once,” Waxillium said.
“Do you know how bloody annoying it is to regrow fingers, Wax?”
“If it’s on par with your complaining, then it’s likely appalling indeed.”

“Odd,” Wayne said, “I usually find the safest places in life are everywhere but near Wax. Have I mentioned the likelihood of explosions?”

“That’s different,” Marasi said, walking past him.
“What? Why? ‘Cuz I can heal?”
“No,” she said, “because—even after knowing you only a short time—I’m fairly certain that on one level or another, you deserve to get blown up every now and again.”
“Oi,” Wayne said. “That’s harsh.”
“But untrue?” Waxillium said, pulling on his coat. It was looking quite ragged.
“Didn’t say that now, did I,” Wayne said, and sneezed. “Keep moving, slowboy. Rusts! A man gets shot, and he thinks he can take all afternoon. Let’s move!”

Like I mentioned a little earlier, The Alloy of Law is self-contained within itself as far as the story and plot are concerned, but Sanderson does an incredible job of leaving things open at the end to allow for a potential continuation without creating a sense that I’ve been left hanging and waiting for a sequel that may or may not ever materialize.

All in all, the best part about The Alloy of Law is the imagery. The way that Sanderson builds his worlds is amazing and when you finish reading this book you can sit back and imagine exactly what it would be like to be living in the world he puts forth. You can see the dust on the streets, the bullets flying through the air, and the societal elite attending their parties and balls. You can feel the mists in your mind’s eye and wonder what it would be like to use Allomancy to fly through them.

This book was a complete surprise to many of Brandon Sanderson’s hardcore fans because at the time of its writing he was (and still is really) neck-deep in finishing Robert Jordan’s illustrious Wheel of Time series. Sanderson wrote this book during a break he was taking to clear his head before starting the final Wheel of Time book and a few months later all of his fans got the great news that he’d taken it from an experimental short story to a novella, to a full-fledged novel.

If you’ve ever been wondering what the fuss is about the Mistborn books, try picking this one up first to see if you like the magic system and the general feel of Sanderson’s writing. I give you my word you won’t be disappointed.

Grade: A
Length: 336 pages

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