BlackRabbit’s #CBR5 Review #5: The Alloy Of Law by Brandon Sanderson

When I saw this sitting on a shelf, I was initially very hesitant. I was introduced to the Mistborn series by my friend Tovah, and I plowed through the first one based on her recommendation. However, nothing about it grabbed me.The magic system in it seemed clumsy and the characters didn’t seem relatable. I did finish the trilogy, hoping it would improve, but no dice. I don’t know what changed with this new book. Maybe Mr. Sanderson altered his style in some way. Maybe I’m a different person now. All I know is that Alloy of Law is a good read.

Set hundreds of years after the Mistborn books, society and technology have moved on. The rare and powerful magical gifts of Allomancy, in which a person can “burn” a bit of swallowed metal for various abilities (pewter for strength, or tin for supersenses) and Feruchemy, in which a person may “store” something from themselves in a bit of metal for use in a in a tight situation (such as weight or healing) have become accepted and known. This system didn’t really work for me in the previous books, but here they are much more integrated and seem more well-explained, making the actions and abilities of the characters easier to follow. Granted the heroine of the first books had 14 powers to play with, while each member of this society has at the very most two, and are called Twinborn.

The protagonists are Waxillium Ladrian, a son of a noble clan who headed out to the “Roughs”, a lawless area, to escape his family and society. He returns home to discover that the city is much more dangerous than he expected, and he must use all of his powers and skills to survive. His assistant is Wayne, his former deputy.

Sanderson’s dialogue is easy and informative, painting the people and settings with spare color while giving you enough gaps to allow your imagination to do some work. There’s even some philosophy thrown in by the title drop. The action is likewise well-done, and if the magical system wasn’t so dependent on description instead of visual effect this book would be an excellent movie. it could still be done, of course, with some careful reworking, similar to the Dresden tv series.

Wayne is in particular a great character. His background is touching and believable, and his personality is charming. The funny repartee between himself and Wax is worth enjoying especially.

I would not be myself if I didn’t mention the bad guy. His identity is a minor revelation in the story, but suffice it to say that his motivation is very compelling (especially these days) and his gift is made out to be downright terrifying, enough that the heroes are honestly unsure of their ability to even slow him down, much less thwart him.

It’s a fun, fast adventure that will keep you reading. The Mistborn books were not favorites, but this one is a much better story. Not worth its weight in gold, perhaps, but I’m willing to say silver, at least until I’ve seen the sequel.

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