a review by Nalini Haynes
Alloy of Law has been shortlised for the Gemmell Legend Award. Set 300 years after the Mistborn trilogy, Alloy of Law is a new story that can be read independently of the original trilogy although there are Easter eggs for the loyal fan.
Waxillium Ladrian is both Allomancer and Feruchemist, with two magical abilities: the ability to push metals as a coinshot and the ability to control his weight through Feruchemistry.
The story opens with Waxillium – Wax – pursuing a psychotic murderer in the Roughs, the equivalent of the Wild West. Summoned back into civilisation – the equivalent of a very early 20th century city – to serve as head of his family, preventing hardship befalling thousands of families aligned with his family and his business, reluctantly Wax submits to the greater good. Financial necessity dictates that Wax submit to a marriage of convenience: his wife would gain social position while he would gain financial support. On the eve of finalising a suitable match, his would-be fiancé is kidnapped. Entangled in the politics of the city, aided by his fiancé’s cousin, Wax pursues his fiancé and the gang holding her captive.
During a panel at Supanova, Brandon Sanderson admitted that he cannot achieve the standard of prose of authors such as Patrick Rothfuss (Pat and Brandon share a mutual admiration society), however Brandon constructs his worlds with meticulous care, ensuring his plots captivate his fans.
There were points at which I felt critical such as mention of people with Koloss blood – Koloss didn’t breed in the Mistborn trilogy – but this could have been changed at the close of that trilogy. I think the one feature that annoyed me the most was the apparent invulnerability of a particular character: to me it seemed inconsistent with the established structure of magic, and yet I may be mistaken. I have a personal bias against any character being too powerful. Other readers obviously disagree with my criticism.
Sanderson’s themes never grow old: a theme of religious tolerance versus intolerance is consistent throughout his work. Sanderson creates magic and cultures for every world he builds – and evolves the religions to keep pace. Leadership serving the people is another worthy trope Sanderson has incorporated into this new trilogy even though, this time, the central character is not a king or emperor. Wax is ‘merely’ the equivalent of a CEO of a major corporation trying to look after the best interests of his ‘employees’.
In his interview in this issue of Dark Matter, Sanderson acknowledged his enjoyment of high-society-type scenes as in Jane Austen’s work, which he juxtaposes with action sequences. This is possibly a reason for his notable success as an author: he’s successfully appealing to a very broad audience due to his broad range of influences.
Alloy of Law is highly recommended to fans of fantasy, to those who enjoy a little high society action between gunshots and explosions, romance unfolding alongside the mystery.