106 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2012
I have read most of Brandon Sanderson's novels, including his Wheel Of Time additions. I am a big fan of his, and the genre in general, and read almost excessively. After having read the original Mistborn trilogy, I was very excited to hear this one announced. I only recently got to this book on my list, and having completed it in a single day I come away with mixed feelings.
Pros: It is a Sanderson book, and he seems to be turning into quite the masterful fantasy storyteller. He manages to come up with great new magic systems for each of his books, while also developing excellent characters and believable worlds. He manages to make you care about what is happening. This book is no exception. The characters read as real people, with distinct personalities, habits and mannerisms that charm or annoy you, weaknesses and strengths you can appreciate, et cetera. He manages to make you love or hate characters wthout making them absolutely good or evil. Specific to this book, you find that even the worst beings within have a sense of humanity about them. There is a sense of what makes them tick. Even if you despise the character, they feel human and you can understand their motives. Brandon Sanderson manages to avoid the typical pure evil "no knowing his mind" character for an antagonists. Likewise, the protagonists are never flawless knights in shining armor. They aren't titans who never show weakness of fault. They are people who are trying to do good or to achieve high goals, but do not always make it. This book advances an excellent story that began in the trilogy. I would not recommend this unless you have read the Mitborn trilogy, and I will not get into explaining the world. This book advances the world to an era similar to our late Victorian period. It sort of has a steampunk feel, but not entirely. There is a certain sense of wonder at impossible new technologies and machines that comes with that steampunk edge. That is mixed in with a bit of the western feel, but it is not a western. Toss these excellent characteristics into the mistborn world and it is an excellent mix. A wonderfully fresh and well designed magic system, a world with many religions rooted in stories you'll remember from the trilogy, excellent characters, and the sense of excitement, wonder, and adventure from the steampunk and western influences. It also takes on a slight Holmesian feel, with the main character being more than just a gunslinger or wizard or warrior. All in all, it mixes many of my favorite things and manages to keep them all clean and interesting. Overall, a very good read that was an easy single sitting book because I never grew weary of what I was reading.
CONS: It feels more like a very long "short" story than a full novel. This is not a bad thing alone, but it comes out incomplete. The ending feels like the ending of the first act of a play, not the ending of a novel. Mr. Sanderson spends an entire book developing these excellent characters with real relationships within an exciting world just exploding into the modern era, surrounded by amazing mythology and history rolled into religions based on the near flawless trilogy. It feels like such a great introduction into a new world of discovery, and right when you start to really dive in he pulls the plug and yells "You don't have to go home but you can't stay here!!" It's a massive let down. The worst part is that everything is so good, so well done, that I was loving every sentence, right up until I hit the back cover. Instead of putting it down early out of boredom, or finishing a 300 page book satisfied with a story well told, I turned the page wondering where the next chapter had disappeared to. It appears that this is a stand-alone novel, so we won't find out what happens to these excellent characters or how the different schemes turned out, where the world goes, anything, and that is frustrating when you realize that he has woven a world and a character set that you really loved and want to read more of.
My first book "review" so I'm sure it was hard to follow, but overall: Great story, great author, and a worthy read, but incomplete and disappointing because of this. Brandon has been pumping out material at an incredible pace, and the quality of the material has been outstanding, but I think this book was pushed out before completion and for a work of such great potential this is particularly disappointing.
124 of 134 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2011
UPDATE 8/01/12: Brandon Sanderson posted a blog entry today, mostly about the final Wheel of Time book, but he also had something to say about The Alloy of Law. YES, there will be a sequel. So for all the people that didn't like the unfinished ending - there WILL be more! Yay!
Wax is a lawman livin in the Roughs where most folks think law optional. Its a rough place, but for the last 20 years its the place Wax called home. But when his uncle dies, he is called back to the city of Elendel to become the head of the nobel house of Ladrian. But once a lawman, always a lawman, and when a string of robberies are committed by a crew dubbed 'The Vanishers', Wax can't help but start investigating. And once he starts he finds himself pulled in entirely.
Picture a Mistborn Western and you'll get The Alloy of Law. I'm not at all interested in Westerns, but I LOVED Mistborn, so there was no doubt in my mind that I HAD to read this book. The beginning was a little slow and the setting quite like that of the Old West. But as soon as the story moves to the city, things start getting exciting and more Mistborn like. There are several references to characters and events from the original series, though you might not recognize them at first considering you are hearing about them from characters who are living three hundred years after the end of the original trilogy. Things get changed over the years and three hundred years is a long time. I thought it was really cool how that was woven in. Keep an eye out for Spook's weird speech patten at one point (I laughed when I understood what it meant when it called it High Imperial).
The characters were really interesting. Wax is in his forties, with twenty years of lawkeepen behind him, so he isn't like most hot headed youngsters you read about in fantasy. Wayne is just an amusing character, with lots of emphasis on character. Marasi is a smart, brave girl who constantly spouted off statistics about crime, which was really interesting. I really liked all three of them and enjoyed reading about them.
You don't really need to have read the original trilogy to enjoy this book. It stands all on its own, which is pretty neat. In the Acknowledgments at the front of the book, Brandon Sanderson says that he originally envisioned Mistborn as three trilogies - one in the past, present, and future. He clearly states that The Alloy of Law is not one of those trilogies, but a side project that grew up on its own. So I am now really looking forward to even MORE Mistborn!
44 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2011
It has been a while since I have had the pleasure of returning to a Brandon Sanderson book. Having read all of his published works over the span of a few months (excluding his Wheel of Time books), I was having Sanderson withdrawal. Enter The Alloy of Law, a Mistborn book during an industrial revolution period. Considering I have yet to read a Sanderson book that I have not thoroughly enjoyed, I was psyched for this book and having just finished it, my expectations were met and darn it, I want more!
I love the Mistborn universe. It provides a fantastic setting incorporating an enjoyable and unique magic system that is well thought out and given great attention. The original trilogy had a typical fantasy setting, pretty much devoid of any semblance to the present. So when I found out The Alloy of Law was going to have industrial technology and have a Western feel, I did not feel one bit of trepidation. I typically avoid Westerns because I do not like the setting, but this was Brandon Sanderson, my favorite author, the same guy that did not disappoint me with any of his books that I read. If anyone could take an environment that I care little about and make it enjoyable to read, he could. And he did, masterfully I might add. A wonderful blend of imagination and science that further enhances the story and provides an entertaining experience.
Sanderson has a knack for witty and humorous characters (Sanderson's Alcatraz series is full of them). While Waxillium, the main character, more or less fits a typical hero mold, he is a noble and cunning hero that you feel compelled to like and follow. Conflicted, determined and thorough, Wax is good at what he does and it was a fun ride watching him do his thing. Wayne is a fantastic supporting character who literally had me laughing with his sharp witticisms and seeing, or reading, him in action was a treat in itself. Two other characters make a brief appearances, but that is all the tease I will give. You will just have to read the book yourself to find out more; it would not hurt to read the Mistborn trilogy either (and why shouldn't you? It is a fantastic read!).
When the story was over, I really wanted more. This originally started out as a standalone novel and is literally half the length of his typical works, but Sanderson left it wide open so that he can easily revisit this setting. Because of its short length and lack of depth that his other Mistborn novels contained, I gave it a four. If it were truly standalone with no loose ends, perhaps it would've been slightly more satisfying. This is a book of mystery that is but a piece of a larger picture, similar to The Final Empire, but much more open. In typical Sanderson fashion, the story is easy to read, will have you hooked and is hands down far more satisfying than much else out there. Sanderson goes to great lengths so that his plots are not convoluted and characters do not behave or act without a lick of sense just to progress the plot. My biggest problem with this book is that it was not longer. Another great read and I look forward to revisiting Wax, Wayne and Marasi in the future.
31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2011
A marvelous read. I always enjoy Sanderson's narrative, dialogue and plots. This is the next book within the Mistborn world, and is set a few hundred years after the events on the first trilogy. The people we grew to love in the first books (Vin, Kelsier, Sazed) are now part of the religion and myths of the day.
The story centers around a gentleman named Wax Ladrian. After some recent tragedies in his life, he returns to Elendel after being a lawman in the Roughs in order to take over as House Lord the estate his uncle left when he died. Wax is Twinborn, being both a steel misting (coinshot) and an iron feruchemist (can increase and decrease his weight). However, there have been some major robberies and kidnappings that have occurred, and Wax ends up getting sucked back into the action.
Together with his partner Wayne and Marasi, a girl studying criminology at the university, they endeavor to stop the robberies and save those who have been kidnapped (which include Marasi's cousin, Steris).
All in all, it is a great adventure story, and I had a blast reading it. I love the way Sanderson can still incorporate references to the characters we have grown to love from the original trilogy. Plus, the bantering between Wax and Wayne (hopefully you got the pun...) is classic. Definitely a book I will re-read and recommend to others.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2011
Three centuries have passed since a young woman named Vin and a band of assorted thieves used the powers of the Mistborn to save the world of Scadrial, dispersing the ash-clouds forever. Vin and her cohorts have become figures of myth or religious awe, but time has moved on. Great skyscrapers are racing for the sky whilst steam and electrical power are becoming more commonplace.
Out in the Roughs, Waxillium Ladrian has spent twenty years trying to bring peace and order to a rough, frontier land. Called home to the city of Elendel by the death of his uncle and forced to inherit his family's estate and business, Waxillium finds trading his six-shooters for cost ledgers to be harder than he'd expected. A spate of kidnappings and disappearance soon tempt him back to a life of law-enforcement, but Wax needs to face his own guilt before he can face down an old enemy.
The Alloy of Law is a (mostly) stand-alone novel set in the same world as Brandon Sanderson's earlier Mistborn Trilogy. Sanderson has previously announced that he plans three trilogies set in this world, one set in a medieval era, one in a contemporary setting and one in a futuristic milieu. The Alloy of Law is a side-story unrelated to these planned future works, though Sanderson layers some hints for the second trilogy into the narrative and also sets up a sequel (or potentially several sequels) for this book in its closing pages.
Written as a side-project to help the author stay fresh whilst bringing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time sequence to its long-awaited conclusion and coming in at barely a third the length of his last novel, The Way of Kings, it'd be easy to dismiss The Alloy of Law as a bit of fluffy filler to tide his publishers over for a year. This would be a mistake as The Alloy of Law is one of Sanderson's best novels to date.
Sanderson has always been a solid, entertaining author but his most laudable aspect has been the way he's grown and learned with each novel. Arguably his biggest problem has been the length of his books: the Mistborn volumes and certainly The Way of Kings, whilst good books, felt overlong for the amount of plot in them. With The Alloy of Law written as a short side-project, Sanderson has forced himself to write much more concisely, tightly and efficiently than normal, resulting in his most focused, page-turning novel to date. Sanderson has also learned a lot about how to deploy humour in a book (probably learning from his issues - eventually resolved - with handling Mat in the Wheel of Time books), with this book also being his funniest.
Although Sanderson's lightest and most humourous book to date, The Alloy of Law has its share of darker moments, opening with Wax accidentally killing an innocent person and being haunted by it through the book. It also touches upon more epic elements, with several potential references to upcoming storylines in the second Mistborn trilogy. The book also continues Sanderson's tradition of featuring minor links to his other fantasy novels with the appendix apparently being written by the world-hopping Hoid (and featuring a reference to the events of Elantris). The updated setting is another plus point, with the mixture of magic, steam trains, guns and electricity being unusual for a fantasy and blurring the lines between epic fantasy, steampunk and urban fantasy to create something that is more interesting than the norm. Action sequences - something Sanderson has handled quite well throughout his career - are also very strong, with some of his more colourful and memorable battles and duels being depicted here.
Sanderson delineates his main three characters - Waxillium, Wayne and Marasi - well, though the POV structure is a little distracting. The entire first half of the novel is from Wax's POV but suddenly switches over in the latter half to include Wayne, Marasi and the main villain. It feels that Sanderson could have found a more consistent structure to use than this. He also nicely inverts some cliches, such as when Wax finds himself betrothed to a woman who initially appears to be a severe harridan but becomes more well-rounded a character as the book proceeds.
On the negative side, some of the secondary characters aren't as well-defined as the three heroes. In addition, there are moments when it sounds like the lawless frontier would have been a more interesting setting than yet another fantasy city (albeit one that more resembles turn-of-the-century New York than a typical fantasy conurbation), though the culture clash between the two settings is something Sanderson handles well.
The Alloy of Law (****½) is a tight, well-written fantasy novel that uses traditional tropes and ideas but combines them with an unusual (for epic fantasy) setting to produce something fresh and engaging. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.
25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2011
Sanderson's Mistborn series is one of my all time favorite fantasy series. This newest addition to what I thought was a complete series was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't crazy about the Western/Steampunk setting of The Alloy of Law but I certainly enjoyed the incredible magic system and the wonderful way Sanderson creates such authentic characters and a story that is non-stop enjoyment. There were of course several surprising twists and turns that kept this short read exciting all the way to the end. While Alloy of Law undeniably cannot compare with the depth and intricate world building of his earlier books in this series or many of his other works, it is still an entertaining story and a must read for any fan of Brandon Sanderson.
It's not necessary to read the first three books to enjoy The Alloy of Law, this is almost an entirely new creation that builds upon the world and magic system created in the previous books but with wholly new and original characters and premise. This just solidifies why Brandon Sanderson is one of my absolute favorite authors. I would recommend The Alloy of Law to any fans of high fantasy, steampunk, westerns, unique magic systems, and of course the Mistborn series.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2012
Ok. First off, reading the Mistborn trilogy is not REQUIRED, but HIGHLY recommended. It is described as a stand-alone book but I think Allomancy is complicated enough on it's own that you really need to read the earlier trilogy to understand what is going on without it causing any confusion. But, that is really not a review, is it? Just take my advise and read the other books first. They are really good too! (BONUS)
I read this book after having just finished the Mistborn series a few days earlier. So, I did enjoy the occasional nod toward the old characters. But, I also then saw the similarities between Kelsier. I even think it was strong enough that Sanderson himself hints at it near the end of the book. But, it really isn't a copy of the old series just rehashed, that would be selling it oh, so short. The characters in this are interesting and likable in their own right. Sanderson has a knack for making his lead characters likable. The main villain in this book was also interesting with a hint of Zane from the past. But, again, maybe a bit took "likable". I like that Sanderson can make the reader and even the protagonist of the book understand the villains view. But, I think there could be more depth if the understanding was darker and scarier and just an understandable bad guy.
Throughout the book, there are a lot of references to newspaper-like articles about the history and exploits of Wax and those like him in the Roughs (Wild West). Another main character even admits to being a fan of them. This really makes me think of the dime westerns and the quick read of the high-adventure. The fake news page in the book even has one in it! But, even with that dime western spirit and Sanderson's gift with writing amazing cinematic action sequences, this book eventually just feels like a pilot episode for some TV show.
It was good. I really liked it. It obviously ended in a way that showed that there was more story to tell. It was not really a cliff-hanger. There was not that type of tension. This book really did have an ending. But, it really just seemed like an episode. I really could see this story continuing. The main characters have room to grow and Sanderson doesn't seem to be in a big hurry for them to change. Maybe he is taking a long-view on this story and not just a normal trilogy idea. I really could see this as a long-term series of short novels. Another series like that (not fantasy) would be the Anna Pigeon series by Navada Barr.
This could go on for awhile...why three big book of 1000-plus pages. Why not ten books at 3-400? Just sayin'...
This book is a good continuation of the Mistborn world. My rating on it is partially based on my love of the original story. But, it is a good alloy in itself: a blend of western dime, cinematic action, tv series-esque, and Sanderson's unique fantasy world magic. I would give the 3.75-4.0 stars on it's own. That might be a bit harsh. I really do think this has a lot of good potential.
If a sequel is published and know I will buy it. How is that for a statement the publisher wants to hear. PS-love the maps, keep them coming. (Read Maphead by Ken Jennings for the significance). :-)
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2011
The strengths of the Mistborn Series, in my mind are:
1. Engaging characters, with whom you empathise and whom you care about.
2. Fascinating, well-developed magic system with well-thought out application.
3. High-stakes stories with consistent tension and unexpected twists.
4. Moral complexity and ambiguity.
I found Allow of Law to have all of these things in abundance (although the stakes are not quite as high.)
The development of guns means an entirely new application of allomancy, and other powers, feruchemical and allomantic, are applied in new ways that restore the original wonder of the Mistborn world.
Sanderson's characters are becoming more three-dimensional, and this book continues the trend. They face real life challenges and decisions, and react in unpredictable ways.
His character rapport is also at its best, and the book is packed with hilarious interchanges between the characters.
What I enjoyed most about it is that Sanderson is not afraid to ask the big questions. Just as in previous books, he reaises real questions of belief, faith, and self-confidence, here he invites you to question justice, rebellion and corruption.
What would Kelsier do if he lived in a time like ours, where the system is not fundamentally corrupt, but is full of corruption. Would he be a hero, fighting for the oppressed, or a villain, hurting good people who are trying their best?
I think that Alloy of Law is Sanderson's finest novel thus far.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2012
I'm left with mixed feelings after this one. While this came out of a fun side project, and is clearly best read as a fun, light novel, I had a number of issues with "Alloy of Law" that detracted from my reading experience.
I'll start with the good. The concept of moving the world and its development forward is great. While not thoroughly innovative, it's the first time I'm aware of that a big-name author has done something of this magnitude. We get exposed to some of the progress in the world's society, but it's almost always briefly mentioned or implied.
The plot is also fairly solid. It's straight-forward, but it drags the story along at a good pace. The beginning is slow, clumsy and a little confused, but the story moves on from that quickly. And as ever, the action is superb.
However, the plot is left unresolved. Of course, Sanderson is planning to write a trilogy in this updated world, and I believe he's said this links into the story somehow, but it's still problematic for a supposedly stand-alone novel.
Another issue with the plot is that it lacks Sanderson's usual nuance. Because of the stream-lined nature of the plot there's almost no mystery, or subtle foreshadowing, which can be found in his other books. There was rarely anything, outside the action scenes, that left me hanging or had me guessing or unable to figure out what would happen.
And the characters here really had me disinterested. I don't think describing them as flat is right; there's a slight degree of depth there most of the time. But each character has their attributes taken to the extreme. There's the wild noble's son, always on the side of justice. The shy geeky girl, always ready to blush or quote textbook statistics. The socially awkward one, so formalised in their way of speak that they're a robot. Disillusioned guy who rages against the system. And so on. Unless there's a point in the story where tension is needed, the characters will have the perfect set of attributes (often unbelievably) to keep the story flowing, or they'll know someone else who does.
The best I can say about this is that the characters don't act this way all the time. But if it's anything not focused on the plot, chances are they'll slip back into their character roles. And how these character relationships will work out is painfully obvious, so much so that I predicted most of it after the first scene. The only real surprise comes near the end, but the end is left open, and I don't believe things will work out the way they're alluded to. And the dialogue needs alot more work.
There are some other issues I have. The biggest is how the world, supposedly set around the invention of the automobile and the growing use of electricity, everything else seems far too modern. There's alot of tiny things, like how surgery is conducted, or how one character refers to textbooks which contain very modern researching techniques and results, or how universities are structured, etc. There are plenty more, and it kept on jolting me out of the narrative. Plus, gender issues are mixed - the female characters act in very typical, demure ways, but in other ways the society doesn't match the time period. This lack of consistency was really annoying.
Despite my problems with it, I don't think this is a bad book. Even without my issues I don't think this comes close to measuring against Sanderson's other work. But if you're going to read it, do so expecting a popcorn thriller.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2014
I took up this (Kindle) book right after finishing the original Mistborn trilogy and while it was a solid page-turner, it somehow felt more like an experiment of putting a few hundred years of earth's technological development into a fantasy world than a truly finished novel. The plot lacked depth, complexity, and surprises. The characters were moderately shallow and did not develop. There were a number of battle scenes, with repetitive description of the fantastic powers of the "magic system" and their interactions, the repetition uncalled for in such a short book, assuming the magic system is something a novelist should dwell on in the first place. And finally, the interesting events started to happen only in the last chapter. I was left hoping that this volume would have been packed with the good stuff, and not only a promise of it.