Friday, 16 December 2011

Review | The Alloy of Law - Brandon Sanderson

You've probably guessed by now that I'm a big Sanderson fan - the clues being that he tends to be good example in my articles rather frequently. The logical magic systems, detailed worldbuilding and intricate plots get me every time: but The Alloy of Law is different. It'a  a kind of fantasy/Western cross - set in the world of the original Mistborn trilogy, but industrialised. So, does his latest work live up to his previous Jacob-rating standard?

Before I say yes (dammit! Spoiled you!), allow me to say one thing: Waxillium. Waxillium. For those who haven't heard, Waxillium is our hero's name. For those who can't see my expression of horror, Waxillium is the kind of name that shouldn't be allowed. even in fantasy. Also, his companion is named Wayne. These qualms aside, here's my summary:

Wax was a Lawman in the Roughs (wow, three capitalised words already!). A Twinborn, able to both store and retrieve weight and to steelpush, his Feruchemical and Allomantic powers seem of little use when forced to return to the city of Elendel, where he must head House Ladrian. However, there's more going on: Wax needs to marry to restore his House's ailing finances, and he soon gets involved in the struggle against a group of thieves and kidnappers who seem to have wide-reaching support... And it escalates.

This is Brandon Sanderson's tightest novel to date - he's known for writing doorstoppers, but this is fast-paced, relatively short, and focussed on a small group of characters. And wow, these are good characters. Whatever my qualms regarding the naming in this group, the central trio of Wax, Wayne and Marisi are great - and very different from Kelsier's crew. I love a good pair of protagonists, and Wax and Wayne (agh, the pun!) definitely qualify, as well as doing so amusingly.

There's less focus on Allomancy. With Feruchemy now more widespread and Mistborn no longer extant, different techniques have become common. For example, Compounding, which I can't explain for its role in the original trilogy (spoilers, people, spoilers), has become more widespread, so the possibilities certainly aren't exhausted.

Although I wasn't entirely convinced by the Wax/Marisi relationship, Wax definitely developed over the course of the novel. Although no Kelsier or Szeth, he's a fun hero to watch - if a little idealistic for some tastes. The ending, likewise, surprised me. This is a Sanderson novel which isn't an epic - a rarety. It sticks to a smaller scale, it's faced paced and written with his usual style: and it's very, very competent. If not quite reaching the brilliance of some previous works, The Alloy of Law is definitely a good addition to your bookshelf.

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