The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson is a novel twist/sequel based on his claim to fame (at least to me it was), the Mistborn trilogy series. I’ve just finished writing the review for Elantris a few days ago and I said that it seems it impossible for the author to disappoint me. Well, I sadly retract that statement here because The Alloy of Law (TAoL) certainly disappointed me. The book is actually quite enjoyable but being as how high a pedestal I hold Brandon Sanderson up upon, I expected something more grand. If you’ve never read the Mistborn trilogy, stop what you’re doing and put those three books in your must read now list. Just don’t expect the same experience when reading TAoL. However, I don’t think the author meant to give us the same experience. At a little over 330 pages, this book felt like a children’s past time story to me. Most books from Brandon are well over 600-700+ pages. Will this fact hinder TAoL?
“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.”
Although you are not required to have read the Mistborn trilogy prior to reading TAoL, things will be much more clearer if you do. The author simply does not have enough time to go into the intricate details of the Allomancy and Feruchemy system. Of course, I’m sure you’ll pick it up within due time but it just doesn’t feel special this time around. The story of TAoL is what I consider “different”. You have your three main characters of Waxillium, Wayne and Marasi. Each of them possess a special kind of Allomancy power which makes them different from other more normal individuals in the world. Together, they are determined to put a stop to a group of robbers and thugs from performing another train robbery and kidnapping.
To sum things up a bit, TAoL is a book set in the future of the Mistborn world where a bunch of people are trying to solve a mystery case of “who dunnit”. To make things intense, Wax and company have special powers similar to those of the past where metal and other precious alloys and compounds play a big part in fight scenes. That’s right. I said the word mystery. Brandon Sanderson do not usually write “mysteries”. To a reader who have never read a book by this author before, nothing seems amiss. However, many fans will be disappointed in that this book just doesn’t have that special “oomph” that Brandon Sanderson usually brings to a fantasy novel. There is no sense of awe here. TAoL is definitely a different kind of fantasy book from what the author usually writes.
Characters are pretty bland and not very memorable. Wax is your typical protagonist trying to do all the right things while struggling with his internal self because of a mistake he made in the past. Wayne is the funny one with witty remarks and careless attitude. Marasi is the smart and shy university girl who likes numbers and statistics. I don’t really have a problem with the main characters but I did have a problem with the main villain. He’s as dry and cliche as they come. Not something I expected from such a great author. The action is however intense as always. Considering the many different types of powers a individual may possess, the author can let his mind roam freely to draft up some pretty excitable fight scenes. It also helps in that the writing of TAoL is as easy to follow as any other of the author’s previous work.
In the end, I can’t help but feel that the author was limited in what he could do with this book due to its short length. TAoL feels like a kid’s story compared to his other works. There is just no grand fantasy feeling here. You don’t get a sense of taking part in the world. You don’t get the feeling of taking part in a grand scheme to bring the villains down. Even the ending was a little disappointing, considering the major build up leading to it. TAoL is said to be a stand alone book but I can’t see how that is. It definitely seems that a second book is to be written. All in all, TAoL is an above average fantasy book. It does have its moments but once again, if you’ve read the author’s previous master pieces before, you can’t help but feel something is missing here.