The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson is a western crime story based in a fantasy world that has progressed to the industrial age. It tells the story of a lord who used to be a lawman, a lawman who used to be a criminal and a criminal who used to be a lawman, and if that wasn’t confusing enough, everyone else has their own secrets as well!
Brandon Sanderson has been repeatedly called one of the best fantasy writers of our time (and not just on this blog!). He then has to take it to the next level of world-building awesomeness by making his world actually progress. After his amazing trilogy Mistborn takes place, The Alloy of Law steps in to tell you about a fantasy world that has discovered electricity, started its industrial revolution and still has the magic system and religions that the trilogy ended with. And folks, I’m pumped. You should grab this book just for the appendix in the back telling you about the new discoveries that have been made. Also there are actual newspaper clippings from the world in the book, who does that?!
Update: There is an audiobook of The Alloy of Law already, check out this clip of it: http://media.us.macmillan.com/video/olmk/macmillanaudio/AlloyOfLaw.mp3
Goodreads | Amazon
Title: The Alloy of Law
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre-ish: Western Fantasy, for realz
Rating: ★★★★☆- Solid book, not his best
Setting: The world of Scadrial is in the throws of industrialization. Electricity is starting to become common place, horse-drawn carriages are being replaced by the first cars, but Allomancy and Feruchemy are still central elements of society. Mistborn (people with all Allomantic powers) are no longer born, but Twinborns (a person with one Allomantic and one Feruchemical power) have become a rare but possible combination. The city of Elendel was blessed with fertile ground and the city continues to grow and develop. However, past the edge of civilization are the Roughs, where criminals think they can get away with anything and lawmen like Waxillium have to prove to them otherwise.
Premise: After tragedy of every kind strikes Wax’s life, he moves back to Elendel to claim his lordship and try to put his house back in order. Unfortunately, his lawman instincts don’t seem to agree with this plan, and a series of suspicious robberies just keep pulling him in. When his old friend Wayne comes into town to look into the “Vanishers” as the robbers have come to be called, Wax just can’t say no, which is good because the city needs him now more than ever.
- How many times can I say how crazy awesome it is that Brandon Sanderson is not only expanding the stories of Scadrial with another book, but better yet letting the world actually progress culturally and technologically! I honestly can’t think of another fantasy world that does this like The Alloy of Law does. That is a huge reason to read this book by itself.
- But the reasons don’t stop there. Wax and Wayne have an awesome dynamic and Brandon Sanderson’s sense of humor shines through once again. These are guys that I would love to meet in person and have a beer with, if only to watch them try to have a civilized conversation with each other!
- The Alloy of Law is also a great opportunity for Brandon Sanderson to show off all the subtle ways that he can build Scadrial. The common sayings that people use aren’t like our world’s at all, they are mostly based off the big important thing in their culture: metals. Instead of beating dead horses, the people of Elendel worry about hammering brittle metals, and many other fun sayings. In addition, the religions that have been founded between Mistborn and The Alloy of Law are awesome since we know the people after whom they were founded!
- I have always liked how realistic Brandon Sanderson’s relationships are. In The Alloy of Law, there are all sorts of opportunities for a slightly ridiculous romantic element to develop, but Sanderson doesn’t take them. He lets his characters have friends of the opposite gender, and any potential romantic element is never rushed. Maybe we’ll see some smooches in a follow up book, but it was definitely way too soon for Wax to be falling head over heals for someone, and Sanderson respected that realism.
- The action scenes rock, enough said. With the way Brandon Sanderson writes, I half expect him to reveal that he secretly is a Mistborn and that’s how he thinks of all these awesome ways to use this crazy original magic system.
- I was never really in to westerns as a kid, and I’m still not. I was glad that most of The Alloy of Law took place in a familiar-ish city setting, since I had been a little nervous about reading a western, even if it was by Brandon Sanderson. That being said, I had also thought going into The Alloy of Law that it would be a steampunk book. It is not, at least as far as I’m aware of the definition of steam punk. For one thing, there is no steam power.
- While there were some interesting female characters, I found them quite outshone by the two awesome male characters. This is all right mostly, but it seemed like Brandon Sanderson tried to have a couple of strong female characters and just didn’t quite make it happen. This was mildly disappointing, but I got over it when there were cool action scenes.
- The beginning of The Alloy of Law is a little jarring, so just be prepared. That’s not what the rest of the book is like at all, so don’t worry.
If you like Brandon Sanderson’s writing, you should read The Alloy of Law. If you’ve never read any Sanderson, you probably shouldn’t start with The Alloy of Law (instead start with Mistborn), since you will appreciate The Alloy of Law a lot more after you’ve got some background. The Alloy of Law is a fairly short book with a pleasantly straightforward western/mystery feel to it, though I don’t think you’ll be able to predict the end; I certainly didn’t. The characters are exceedingly fun and engaging and the world is, as always, really freaking awesome. If you are a Sanderson fan, you should pick up The Alloy of Law just for the appendix at the end that details all the Allomantic and Feruchemical powers and hints at the deeper connection that there is between all the magic systems in the books! That appendix makes me want to go on a Brandon Sanderson binge all over again, gah!