Thursday, January 8, 2015

Book Review: The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

Title: The Alloy of Law
Series: Mistborn #4 (Wax and Wayne #1)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Fresh from the success of The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson, best known for completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time®, takes a break to return to the world of the bestselling Mistborn series.
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.

This was my final read of 2014 and the way I concluded my self-proclaimed "year of Sanderson." It was a great way to conclude the year, that's for sure. Like all of Sanderson's books it had a complex and interesting world, likable characters, and an exciting plot. But what struck me so much was how it took something that was already established, the Mistborn trilogy, and changed it in a way that made it feel completely fresh.

The Alloy of Law takes place in the same world as the Mistborn trilogy, but I'm not sure if I would call it a sequel however.  Sure it takes place after The Hero of Ages, but 300 years later. And yes, it does elude to and is influenced by moments and characters from the previous series, but the book is about brand new and unique characters. And yes, it uses the magical systems from the previous books, but it changes and develops them as well. On the whole this book feels like a fresh and exciting turn for a series that I love.

Brandon Sanderson once again proves that he is the master at creating a unique and entertaining magical system. And by that I mean that the magic within this series is so freaking cool! What I loved in the Mistborn series is that the magic is both internal and external. With both Allomancy and Feruchemy you have to have the inherited ability to burn metals and the metals to burn/or use, one without the other will not work. In The Alloy of Law those were of course the same prevailing magical systems but they were both expanded and developed to something even more creative. I didn't think Sanderson could make them any cooler but he succeeded in doing just that. From the use of new metals that give the person amazing abilities to the existence of Twinborns who can do both, the magical system in The Alloy of Law was completely fantastic! Sanderson took the magical system from the previous series and made it different and more interesting.

But Sanderson also made the setting of this book different and more exciting. The world of the Mistborn series was a vivid Medieval style society. Not at all surprising for a High Fantasy. But what Sanderson does is develop his society into something new and different. As if following our own history, the world of Mistborn becomes like the Old West of the 19th century. So we now get a more modernized world with technology and cultural advancements. That's right friends, Allomancy in the Old West! I want to compare it to Steampunk because that is the closest comparison but it's not really like that, it's something all it's own. And while it is something utterly unique it also made perfectly logical sense. Allomancy perfectly lends it self to this kind of setting and Sanderson does an amazing job of portraying to the reader how what happened in the previous series that led to things being this way. It's like that the previous series was an origin story or a mythology. The characters that I learned to know and love have become legends and heroes. It was so much fun, completely unique, and so interesting!

Plus that new setting led to a really cool and interesting plot. I've never been a big fan of Westerns. I don't dislike them, I'm just often disappointed by them, especially with books. But The Alloy of Law is a fantastic Western. But that is probably because for me it read more like a mystery or heist story, which I always love. Sanderson always does a great job of infusing his books with mysteries and big reveals but in The Alloy of Law it felt more like a traditional mystery or procedural. The bulk of the plot was about solving the mystery and we were along for the ride as the characters hunted for clues and attempted to find out who was behind the crime. And while it was less complex and much less of a mind fuck than the two previous books it was still full or surprises. And action. It was so full of action. Between the allomantic battles to the thrilling escapes this book was a quick and exciting read that kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

And once again Sanderson created a host of likable and complex characters that it is easy to connect with. While I did miss the characters from the previous books, the subtle references to them satiated me enough to not miss them too much. Plus in The Alloy of Law I found a group of characters that were just as fantastic. Waxilium and Wayne are the perfect team and the perfect foils. They are both smart, resourceful, and tough but Wax is the more serious one while Wayne brings the humor. Alone they are interesting but together they are fantastic! They have some amazing banter and they work so well together. They have this total Holmes and Watson vibe and I loved it. But there also some really great secondary characters. There's Marasi, an amazing strong female character who is intelligent tough. But my personal favorite character, besides Wayne, was Ranette, who is another amazing female character and while she had a tiny role she made a big impact. I mean her inventions? Ah-mazing! And then of course there was the antagonist who was terrifying and complex. I have always loved the characters that Sanderson creates and that was no different in The Alloy of Law. The characters were interesting and likable and I can't wait to see how they develop with the series.

Fans of the Mistborn trilogy will really enjoy this continuation of the series. It's creative and interesting and is unlike anything I have ever read, and I mean that in the best possible way. Sanderson takes something that we know and love and succeeds in making it better with the development of an engrossing world, a thrilling plot full of mystery, and great characters.

I give The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! Fans of Mistborn and members of the Sanderson Army should definitely check out this book. And with two more books in the series coming out soon, including Shadows of Self coming this fall, this is the perfect opportunity. If you haven't read the Mistborn series then get on that so you can check this book out. It's truly fantastic.

Have you read The Alloy of Law? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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