Every Sanderson novel has all you ever need from a fantasy story. They have perfect, feel-good stories with characters to love and identify with. They offer mysteries to be solved and lots of subtle hints and foreshadowing to involve the readers. They have creative magic systems and intriguing worlds. And they have healthy doses of action and suspense with hints of romance.
A new story, three hundred years later
The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel is no exception to this. The fourth book set on Scadrial, the world previously seen in the bestselling Mistborn trilogy, The Alloy of Law is set several hundred years after the climactic events of The Hero of Ages, in a reborn world where the original cast have become almost mythological and their deeds legendary. In a way, they have become something akin to caricatures of what they once were, time decaying their memory into stories. Names like Ironeyes, Ascendant Warrior, Last Emperor, Survivor, and Harmony have become titles both reverent and religious to many.
Waxilium Ladrian, affectionately known as Wax, is a rare Twinborn—someone who wields both a Feruchemical and Allomantic power—and he can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After spending twenty years as a lawkeeper in the Roughs, the Scadrial equivalent of the Wild West, Wax is called back to the metropolis of Elendel to take his deceased uncle’s place as head of House Ladrian. Though Waxillium is trying to put away his guns and lead a respectable life, a group of criminals is robbing Elendel’s elite and kidnapping noble women, and the reluctant Wax, helped by his friend Wayne and the young Lady Marasi, seems to be the only one who can stop them.
A cleverly reinvented world
There is one thing that The Alloy of Law lacks that all of Sanderson’s other works have, and in my opinion, this very lack makes this one of Sanderson’s best novels. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sanderson’s worldbuilding and his creative ways of introducing readers to a world, but with The Alloy of Law taking place in an already existing world, with the magic system previously established, there is a lot less worldbuilding in this story. Yet, I believe readers who haven’t read the Mistborn trilogy will still be able to thoroughly enjoy The Alloy of Law. Sanderson gives just the right amount of background needed for the story and doesn’t bother explaining the rest of the world in detail. Instead, this is a fairly straightforward novel with more attention for the story and the character dynamic.
Brandon Sanderson did something rather remarkable with Alloy of Law. He took the strict social and magical rules that governed the old series and let them mingle. This has allowed many of the mechanics to change both subtly and violently, allowing enormous new possibilities for his writing. The world has changed, and so has the way people perceive the magic of Scadrial. Technology has mingled with the magic, leading to amazing magical gunfights and other extraordinary feats.
Magic in all its forms
Sanderson handles the Twinborn perfectly; he creatively harnesses the dual abilities to turn them into something unique for each character. The main character, Wax, manipulates his powers to handle situations in ways unexpected for the reader, adding a lot of fun to The Alloy of Law. Bendalloy is used frequently in this book, adding temporal elements to many scenes. Sanderson shows his true creative powers in designing magical combinations and possibilities that a reader can’t even predict. This was a definite strong point for The Alloy of Law, letting it feel like a Mistborn novel, yet bestowing on it a sense of individuality and vibrancy.
A bold and enigmatic set of characters
While Sanderson’s characters have always been likable, their flatness and flawlessness have often been a weakness in his writing. With The Way of Kings, he already proved he was getting better, and with The Alloy of Law, Sanderson continues to demonstrate improvement. The characters of The Alloy of Law are each bold and enigmatic and very memorable. In most books, there are major characters that just fail to evoke a lasting image, but Sanderson has crafted each of these characters brilliantly. Wayne is an obvious standout, with all of his quirks and accents; he develops as a character that brings a new perspective to the term “multifaceted.” Wax, the primary protagonist, is almost like a superhero when viewed externally, but becomes grounded and relatable when observed from within his mind.
The females of The Alloy of Law are intriguing, handling the pressures of society and social stigma in differing ways. They are never just a flat part of the plot, like so many female fictional characters have been written throughout the course of fantasy as a genre. One of the most interesting pieces of feminism in The Alloy of Law was the academic course on the Ascendant Warrior as a powerful woman at the University of Elendel.
Core themes that shift slightly
While the story mostly takes place in the city of Elendel, there are scenes outside the great city, adding contrast and a layer of socioeconomic and judicial philosophy to the story, themes that the original Mistborn series centered around. The protagonists are all lawkeepers or have a direct relationship to such a career and it shapes their view of the world, with subtly different shadings between each point of view. For the first time, Sanderson has truly mastered the morally ambiguous antagonist: a bad guy who believes he is doing the right thing and has believable motivations to do what he does.
Why should you read this novel?
The Alloy of Law is a short novel, but never flagging. It starts slowly, but quickly becomes intense and detailed as the action picks up and the story fully grabs you. Despite some predictable twists, there are still moments where it takes you places you didn’t expect. The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson is a riveting, action-packed story that reinvents the world of Mistborn with a bold new set of characters, witty dialogue and a revolutionized setting. This is a novel any fantasy fan should read. Whether you are a fan of the epic, the urban, or steampunk, The Alloy of Law has it all. Please give us a sequel, Mr. Sanderson!