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Rating: Not Rated

Entertaining but Shallow

Talraen's Review of Mistborn: The Alloy of Law (Brandon Sanderson) (Books)

The Alloy of Law is the fourth book written in the Mistborn world, although it's not directly related to the previous three. It has an interesting origin, as it was written basically as an exercise between the last two Wheel of Time books and wasn't originally meant for publication. This isn't part of Sanderson's grand "trilogy of trilogies" plan for Mistborn, and it shows. Alloy of Law is a fun book, but not a terribly substantial one.

The plot begins a few hundred years after the events of the original Mistborn trilogy, in a world featuring turn-of-the-20th-century technology. There are guns, trains, even a few cars (which are just appearing). There are no mistborn anymore, nor do there appear to be feruchemists like those in the original trilogy that have access to all of their powers. Instead, people in the world can be born with no more than one specific power of a type, though several main characters are "twinborn," meaning they have one of each. All 16 of the basic metals are now known, and we see a few cool allomantic powers here that were not seen previously.

The tone and story of the novel is reminiscent of the Robert Downey Jr. version of Sherlock Holmes from a few years back. The main character is a lawman returning to the big city after a successful career in the "roughs," and his sidekick is sort of a mildly insane version of watson. There is a lot of amusing banter between characters, but some of it feels like it's trying a bit too hard. This isn't a very challenging book - it's not quite the literary equivalent of a mindless summer blockbuster, but it wouldn't exactly be in Oscar contention, either. (On the subject of movies, I feel like this book would actually be pretty fun and a lot easier to make than the rest of the Mistborn series, but that's neither here nor there.)

I enjoyed Alloy of Law, but like many Sanderson works, it's really easy to criticize. The writing is very on the nose, and the way characters act is more out of 2011 than 1900. This is a short book, and that leads to the characters being fairly one-dimensional, particularly the women. The casualness with which the protagonists kill bad guys was also pretty offputting, though I couldn't say exactly why. Let's just say Nathan Drake would be right at home in this universe.

In the end, this is a pretty typical Brandon Sanderson novel, without any overtures of being epic. It's fun and enjoyable, and it's a quick read, but I don't expect any college students to be writing thesis papers about it. Allomantic gunfights are cool, and the action sequences are predictably great. The things I like about Sanderson, such as the main characters not being the only one with clever ideas, are also present. If you've read Sanderson, you pretty much know what you're getting here. Mistborn fans won't do wrong to pick it up, provided they don't have a special hatred for urban fantasy (although honestly, the only significant setting difference between this and Mistborn is that now they have guns).

Score: B-

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