The Mistborn trilogy started hitting bookstore shelves in 2006, and it established rather quickly that Brandon Sanderson is an author of considerable talents. For many, Mistborn is an essential addition to any library and is beloved. News of a new Mistborn novel was cause for excitement, and now that stand-alone volume has been released.
"THE ALLOY OF LAW is a great adventure and fantasy, and is certain to provide enjoyment for those seeking an escape, even if only for a few hours."
THE ALLOY OF LAW takes place, as expected, in the world of Scadrial, occurring 300 years after the events of the previous Mistborn novel. Over that passage of time, the world is on the verge of an industrial age of Enlightenment. Trains are becoming more and more the transport mode of choice, and electricity is also starting to see a rise in popularity. In the city of Elendel, Wax Ladrian has come home to become the head of his family after his uncle and sister met an untimely end.
Wax has been living in the Roughs and operating as a lawman, and a successful one at that. Though he is known in Elendel, and word of his lawman dealings is making the rounds, he finds himself both a point of interest and yet frowned upon in a society on the verge of advancement. Highborn families, of course, need to carry themselves with certain distinction, and so Wax begins courting Steris. Soon, he gets thrust into a crisis as dangerous and brutal as anything seen in the Roughs. When Steris is kidnapped, Wax begins the search to find her and to find out why.
Sanderson made a great decision in advancing the timeframe for this new installment. Because of his abilities as a storyteller, a reader feels an instant connection to the work and recognizes much about it that anchors to the original trilogy. The great spin here, however, is that, for all of its recognizable qualities, THE ALLOY OF LAW is fresh and shows that world as having grown and morphed, which gives it a newness.
As in all of Sanderson’s works, this book features some great magic systems. The system known as Allomancy gets its front-and-center treatment, but Wax has the ability to do more than just Allomancy. Meanwhile, his companion, Wayne, can create zones of magic. Those outside the zone can be frozen in time, while within the zone they move freely. It's all well played and really adds some great twists to the world.
Speaking of the world, Scadrial is a world in transition and in a collision of times. Not quite fully industrial, not quite primitive, the entire book has a fantastic sense of embracing the steampunk genre while coloring it with more of a quality of the Old West and frontier life. These two cultures clash into one form that works surprisingly well together.
While the book is a stand-alone and is certainly set apart from the original trilogy, one can't help but get the sense that there is more to come. You can absolutely pick up THE ALLOY OF LAW never having read the previous three Mistborn novels. With the passage of time and the shifts in technology and culture, this installment feels wholly separate. And I would encourage you to pick it up.
Once again, Sanderson has succeeded in crafting a world people like to visit. Within that world, he has peopled it with characters who readers want to follow intently. And around all of this, he has shaped a magic system that really impresses. THE ALLOY OF LAW is a great adventure and fantasy, and is certain to provide enjoyment for those seeking an escape, even if only for a few hours.
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on January 5, 2012