Gunner McGrath's Reviews > The Alloy of Law

The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
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's review
Oct 28, 11

bookshelves: own-in-arc, autographed, own-in-hardcover, fantasy
Read from October 20 to 25, 2011 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Brandon Sanderson commented on this review via reddit! See below.

This review originally appeared on my book blog.

The original Mistborn trilogy was a masterwork of fantasy, artfully combining a cool magic system, detailed and lush worldbuilding, and a plot and characters that were incredibly enthralling, weaving them together so perfectly that every piece depended completely on every other piece.

Sanderson has spoken and written about his goal for the world he created: three trilogies, spanning many centuries on the same world. Sometime in the future we will see an "urban fantasy" trilogy and finally a "science fiction" trilogy, all based on the same magic system and, if The Alloy of Law is any indication, religions and mythologies derived directly from the first series.

But the author decided to give us a treat in the meantime, something that initially started out as a short story but due to an epic writing style, even "short" turns out to mean 300+ pages. And so we have this novel, in a setting similar to the American Old West, with the most notable difference of gunslingers with magical powers.

Overall, this is a very fun action/mystery novel for anyone looking for something unique or genre-bending. The tone is a bit lighter than Sanderson's other work, so while crime and death and moral questions abound, it is still not quite so dark and serious as it could have been. I am certainly glad, though, that these ethical issues were not left out, as they are one of my favorite aspects of his writing. There are some great twists and turns, exciting gunfights enhanced by abilities to push and pull metal, manipulate time, and heal quickly, to name a few.

Because it's a short novel, however, there is a distinct lack of Sanderson's trademark world building; the reader is largely left to imagine a vague western setting. It's also not nearly the intricately planned masterpiece his other novels tend to be, so expectations should be set appropriately for a more straightforward novel where the author is simply having some fun in his fictional playground.

Some have claimed that this book stands on its own, and that one needn't read the original trilogy in order to enjoy it. That may be so, but I suspect that anyone who does will have a distinct sense of being left a little bit out of the loop. Many of the original characters are referenced in passing as parts of various religions, and so without that prior knowledge of the world's history, such a reader would be at a disadvantage. There are also a couple of more important passages that cannot be fully appreciated without knowing those characters. For those of us who loved the first trilogy, they point to an exciting potential aspect of the future trilogies, and make me very excited for the next Mistborn book, whenever that may arrive.

In the end, the last couple chapters are the most meaningful, both to the story and to the world itself, so I would recommend that this not be the book that introduces you to the Mistborn series, as the best parts of the climax and resolution would go right over your head, and the trilogy novels are each superior to this one. Those books are the main courses; The Alloy of Law is just a delicious snack meant to hold you over until the next big feast.


Mr. Sanderson's gracious comment:

This is a really solid review of the book, Gunner. Thank you. You basically captured what I feel is the spirit of the book. One of my primary worries with this is that readers will expect too much. It's meant to be fun and enjoyable, but the shorter length and smaller scope means that it's not going to have the depth of the original trilogy or of TWoK.

I kind of look at this like I view some of the great sf television series out there. Many, like DS9, had beautiful, long-running arcs with enormous scope. But occasionally, they'd stop to do a stand-alone episode that was just meant to be fun. That's what Alloy of Law is.
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Reading Progress

10/20/2011 page 1
0.0% "Thanks to reddit, Brandon Sanderson himself offered to send me a signed advance reading copy! Could not be more excited to start this, (even though I'm reading two of his other books at the same time haha)"
10/20/2011 page 64
20.0% "Very cool so far!"
10/21/2011 page 153
48.0% 2 comments
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Vikingabroad (new)

Vikingabroad He is great at interacting with fans on Reddit. I msged him there, and asked if I could read his unpublished works, and within a day he he had responded, and given me pdfs of two of his earlier works that he had tried to get published, but wasn't able to.

message 2: by Jay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jay Greenwood Sanderson is awesome, I read his entire AMA on reddit a few months back! Great review and even greater that Brandon recognized it.

Matthew Langham That is great Vikingabroad! I really liked this book better than the other 3. The first one had a great ending, but the characters developed slowly and there was a lot of dialogue and it moved along slower than I would have liked. The second was all filler in my opinion and was all but useless. The third was a continuation of the second right up until it was 100 pages from the end and it took off and never looked back. This book was a continuation of the third. There was never a dull moment and everything developed quickly with nice plot twists and it would work as a standalone novel. I thought it was a great book, and what a great guy to send a fan some stuff that he was proud of, but couldn't get published.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi! So, I've been looking into this and I'm a little lost. Is Alloy of Law a "standalone" Mistborn novel in between the trilogy of trilogies, or is it the start of the second trilogy? The reason for my confusion is because the upcoming one, Shadows of Self, apparently features the guys from this.

Chris Dow According to the foreword to this book, this is not part of the second trilogy. That being said, he's writing a sequel to Alloy, which is apparently ALSO not part of the trilogy, so we'll see where this goes. I just started Alloy, and am really loving the updated setting.

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