I’d already read Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy when he published the first book of a companion trilogy, The Alloy of Law in 2012. I’d intended to read it right away, but I kept forgetting about it. Fast forward to 2016 when I heard Sanderson talk about the second series on a podcast. He said that he’d intended Mistborn to be an ensemble heist novel, but that it kept working its way back to high fantasy. With The Alloy of Law, he said, he’d written a book in the same universe that captured the tone he was going for originally. I love a good heist story, so I grabbed a copy and finally got to reading.
Lord Waxilliam Ladrian made a name for himself as a nearly invisible lawman on the frontier until a tragedy in the Roughs and his uncle’s untimely death at home forces him back to Elandale to take over as head of the estate. When a chain of mysterious robberies and kidnappings hits close to home for Lord Ladrian, he goes back to his lawman roots and investigates himself, uncovering a plot more complicated than anyone originally imagined. The heroes from the original Mistborn trilogy are part of the mythology of the current civilization, which is a fun touch for anyone who’s read the original series. I don’t think you would feel at all lost without having read Mistborn, however, until the next book in the series. By Shadows of Self, I was wishing I’d gone back and read a summary of the original trilogy to keep everyone straight.
Like everything by Brandon Sanderson, The Alloy of Law is well written. The story arc is tight, the magic system is intricately designed, and the characters have unique voices. Each of his books also tends to feature a pun-loving character. (My computer is sure I meant fun-loving there, but I really did mean someone who loves puns.) Sometimes the humor annoys me; other times, it makes me laugh at the ridiculousness. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the punster in question at first, but Wayne ended up being my favorite character. A few of the other characters surprised me by the end as well, which is always a great surprise in a straightforward adventure.
All in all, The Alloy of Law fits what Sanderson set out to do. It takes the complicated world and history of the Mistborn series and uses it to tell a more accessible story. It’s one part Batman, one part John Wayne, and two parts nerd. If you’ve been looking for a (sort of) Western adventure featuring a statistics analyst and cleptomaniac obsessed with hats (and who hasn’t?), I’ve found the book for you!