Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mistborn: The Alloy of Law Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: Wax and Wayne Book One, Mistborn Book Four
Pages: 416

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Set 300 years after the final book in the original Mistborn Trilogy, Brandon Sanderson returns to the world of Scadrial with a new cast of characters.  Readers won’t have to read the original Mistborn Trilogy in order to read Alloy of Law, although I would recommend they do, because it gives a lot of backstory, and was – generally speaking – a great read.

Compared to the original trilogy, Alloy of Law is a strong entrant into the Mistborn series, but it’s definitely not Sanderson’s best.  I would still recommend it to fans of the original trilogy.  If you haven’t read any of the Mistborn books, then I would recommend this to people who are into steampunk, westerns, and highly developed magic systems.

Waxilliam Landrian is a former law keeper in the Roughs who’s moved to the city of Elendel to take over his family estate. Looking to put tragedy from his past behind him, and looking to revive his family’s powerful aristocratic estate, he struggles adapting to the lifestyle of the aristocracy.

When a group of high profile kidnappers called the Vanishers begins to terrorize the Roughs and the city, Wax finds that it’s harder to stay retired than he thought as he, his former partner Wayne, and a young noblewoman named Marasi begin to investigate the crimes.

For those who are unfamiliar with Mistborn, this series is known for its incredibly well thought out magic system. It’s unsurpassed – in my opinion – as far as magic systems with clear cut rules written are concerned.  In Alloy of Law, Sanderson gets to once again exploit this brilliant system, and like the original trilogy the magic and action scenes with magic are the heart of what makes this series so exciting and enjoyable.

For the uninitiated, the magic system in Mistborn is separated into three basic branches: Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy. Only certain people in Mistborn can access magic, and in order for those people to do so, they must ingest some form of metal. Each metal has a different magical property, and the effects of each metal are different whether or not you’re a allomancer, feruchemist, or hemalurgist.

Sanderson does great job of further exploring magic in this world without being repetitive.  No full-blown Mistborns, and no Feruchemists here. Instead our primary protagonist Wax and his best friend Wayne are Twinborn.  Each character has one Allomantic power and one Feruchemical power. Wax can push on metals and gain or subtract weight, Wayne can create time bubbles where he speeds time up and he can heal real fast.  The focus on different magical abilities, along with new technologies results in a completely different style of action scenes from the original trilogy. Heist styled medieval epic fantasy is now turned into a steampunk western. Voila.

Wax and Wayne are a fairly entertaining crime fighting duo.  Wax is a straight up refined lawman with some rough edges due to undergoing some traumatizing experiences. Most of the story is told through his perspective and he’s likeable enough, but at the same time Wax isn’t going to be one of my favorite Sanderson characters.  It’s the situations in the plot that Wax takes part in that makes him interesting rather than his personality – a personality that feels like your stereotypical jaded lawman.

Wayne is the comic relief.  He’s excellent at creating disguises and changing accents. His most notable personality trait is he likes to trade: which is really his version of stealing property from someone else and replacing it with another object (usually one that’s far less valuable, although that’s not always the case). I wouldn’t be surprised if Sanderson created Wayne to practice writing Mat Cauthon for the final Wheel of Time book. These two characters have a lot of similarities, but they’re each different enough to standout on their own.

Marasi is a young woman who’s studying law at the university.  Her head’s filled with lots of random facts which she likes to blurt out frequently.  As a character, Marasi is the weak link, as she is oftentimes more annoying than likeable. With Marasi, Wax, and Wayne working together to solve a mystery it’s not hard – broadly speaking – to see what appears to be the formation of another Harry Potter power trio.  Wax = Harry, the scarred individual who always fights for what’s right; Wayne = Ron, the clown of the group; Marasi = Hermione, the nerdy one with all of the answers. While I didn’t care for Marasi all that much, I did enjoy her cousin Steris.  I don’t like her as a person, but that seems to be the point.  Her super logical approach to life, and the marriage contract she proposes early in the story is pretty amusing.

The prologue of the story is one Sanderson’s best beginnings; it’s messed up and having read a number of the author’s books I didn’t think he would take the story in that direction that fast. However, I’ve got to say the rest of the book doesn’t really live up to that beginning. It’s still a solid read, but having read other Mistborn and Sanderson books I was expecting a bit more.  The plot gets a bit too predictable by the end, however, Sanderson does open the story up for some potentially interesting sequels.

Score: 8.7

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