‘The Alloy of Law’ is the fourth book in the Mistborn series but the first in Mistborn Era 2 – a separate series set 341 years after the original trilogy. It’s completely different in tone, with far more humour, and a brilliantly fun and engaging read. Era 2 can be read completely separately from Era 1, but the events of Era 1 have formed the current myths, legends, and religions, and its easier to understand the magic systems of Allomancy and Feruchemy with the base knowledge gained from Era 1. (If you haven’t seen my previous reviews, more information on Era 1 can be found here.)
Mistborn Era 2 is a series of fantasy Westerns. Waxillium Ladrian – known as Wax – has lived all his life as a lawman, but now his uncle has passed away and he’s been forced to assume leadership of his house. He tries to settle into his new, more sedate, lifestyle – even entering into a marriage contract – but when his friend Wayne shows up with a job proposition, Wax finds himself being pulled back into his old life. There are kidnappings, murder plots, robberies, family secrets, and above all carnage. Wax and Wayne – aided by Wax’s fiance, Steris, and Steris’ cousin Marasi – must find out what’s really going on before it’s too late.
Fantasy Western isn’t a genre I read very much, and I wasn’t convinced when I heard about the intended direction of Era 2. Fortunately, Sanderson proved me completely wrong. ‘The Alloy of Law’ is much lighter in tone but still packed with engaging content and loveable characters. It’s impossible not to love Wax, and the banter he has with Wayne is exquisite. Marasi, too, is a brilliant character – strong, fierce, and determined to defy convention in a society even more repressive for women than Mistborn Era 1.
One of the most interesting things about this book is how the events of Era 1 are interpreted in hindsight. Sanderson has taken the original trilogy and created several new religions, an accepted history which is similar to – but not the same as – what actually happened, and several different cultural viewpoints and perspectives on the events. It’s cleverly done, creating nostalgia for the first trilogy but also showing how the facts of history are warped depending on who tells them and how they’re passed down.
The other fascinating part is the technological advances, and how these have been shaped by increasing knowledge of Feruchemy and Allomancy. Most of the technology is recognisable from the Victorian Era or American Western novels, but with subtle alterations to allow from a society where some people have enhanced abilities. Feruchemy and Allomancy have also been hugely advanced from Era 1 – they’re now subjects of study, and the way Wax and Wayne use their powers is incredibly different to how Vin, Kelsier, and the rest approached theirs in Era 1.
Overall, this is nothing like the other series’ is the Cosmere, but it’s still fun, brilliantly written, and packed with wit. Recommended for fans of lighter fantasy, witty banter, and intricate explorations of technology and magic.
Published by Gollancz
Published November 10th 2011