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'The Alloy of Law' is supposedly a sequel to Brandon Sanderson's acclaimed Mistborn series, although it is perfectly possible to read and understand it without having read the original series. Set in the same world of Scadriel, technology has moved on several hundred years, but magic is very much still a part of this world, giving the book an almost steampunk-like feel.
The story focuses on Wax Ladrian, heir to a mighty house, who has so far eschewed his fortune and lived out in the Roughs, trying to maintain peace and justice in a lawless area. Wax is both an allomancer and a feruchemist; he can burn the magical powers stored in metals when he swallows them, and he can use certain metals as a store for their relevant characteristics, types of magic of immense use in his line of work. However, with the death of his father, he is forced to return to the city and take up his place as the head of the household. This involves abandoning his former lifestyle, and fulfilling his obligations to his house in terms of marriage and an heir. However, forgetting the old ways of life is not so easy when the city is hit by a spree of kidnappings, and even less so when one of the victims is his fiance, Steris. Wax joins forces with her sister, Marasi, and his old colleague from the Roughes, Wayne, to try and find the kidnapped women, and unravel a much larger conspiracy...
Unlike your ordinary fantasy novel, this one juxtaposes magic with guns, which makes a refreshing change. Indeed, at times it reads like a wild-west novel. The plot-line has some interesting twists, and has plenty of action scenes to move the story along; at a slim 325 pages, there is no time for long-winded descriptions here. Despite this, the characters are still sufficiently padded out for the reader to care about what happens to them, although a few stereotypes slip in at times. I particularly enjoyed the references to the previous 'Mistborn' series, the events of which have now slipped into legend, although they are not frequent enough to disrupt the story for those not familiar with them. A warning though: the final scenes are unlikely to make much sense, but they don't actually relate directly to the story. There's a handy guide to the magical styles mentioned in the book for those who get lost! My only complaint with this book is its length; fantasy novels are usually weighty tomes, and it feels a little rushed at times. Not all the loose ends are tied up, and as far as I know, there are no plans for a sequel, which is disappointing. Overall, this book is good fun, and an unusual take on the fantasy genre, but not overly complex.
Brandon Sanderson's 'Alloy of Law' takes place 300 years after the events of his original Mistborn Triliogy, (The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages). With the original trilogy being mindblowing, I had high expectations for this book; Brandon had a lot to live up to! Luckily he succeeded and has created a good progression book for the series.
Lord Waxillium Ladrian (a decendant from Breeze, a character from the first books) is the head of a noble house, with hundreds of people depending on him for employment. We are introduced to him in the Roughs (a lawless desert landscape with an abundance of criminals) where we understand he has left the city to become a lawkeeper. Living in the Roughs is hard, everyone expects they can take what they want, and get away with it. After witnessing the death of one of the most infamous criminals, Waxillium leaves the Roughs to return to Scadrial, the city in which most of the story takes place.
Brandon has very successfully created a world which has moved on. With guns, horseless carriages and electric lights becoming more common place, he has definitely not stood still for this novel. His technical progression in this world gives readers a new playground for the characters, adding variety to a common theme. One of the main messages I took from the story is that magic still exists in modern times, it's just harder to find, and sometimes less obvious. Is that voice he hears in his head when he prays really God, or is it part of his imagination? Is it just coincidence that Waxillium finds his suitcase, just as he needs to, or did some divine power aid him? It seems to me Sanderson intends to show his fans that although we all love stories of old magic and empires, dangerous and important work is done by lawkeepers and is still just as exciting in more modern times.
Waxilllium is a rare Twinborn, who has an Allomantic and Feruchemal power, from his joint heritage to previous Feruchemists and Breeze. His powers show us an ordinary Sherlock Holmes type of detective, with a bit of a kick. His 'Watson' style deputy, named Wayne, is also a powerful Twinborn and adds much welcome humour to the book. Miles (who may as well be named Moriarty) is a law keeper turned bad, and is the main criminal of the book.
One of the main reasons I like Sanderson's books, is that although they are high fantasy, with all the magic and power you could wish for, they are not overly difficult to read. I am currently struggling with reading the first Lord of the Rings. Whereas these books have a much more old fashioned and perhaps more genuine approach to language, Brandon's novels are accessible to anyone. Ok so maybe characters do use very modern language, however I definitely prefer this to not understanding what they're rambling on about.
Another reason for the success of this book is Sanderson's ability to create a world which has it's own superstitions, religions, saying and beliefs. My favourite adaptation is "take what he said with a pinch of copper". Instead of salt, Brandon uses one of the Allomantic metals, a simple yet effective method of making a more realistic world.
To avid Mistborn fans he gives extra snippets of information referring to characters or themes from the previous books, which add satisfaction and a sense of authenticity.
I think what I like most about this book, is that even without the magic of Feruchemy and Allomancy, it would still make a very good book. The storyline is clever enough, the characters just about unusual enough, and the noble society interesting enough for the novel to pass without it's "pinch of copper". This demonstrates that Brandon Sanderson does not rely on the fantasy alone to create a good book, something which cannot be said for all fantasy writers.