The Alloy of Law

When I saw that The Alloy of Law was half-price in the Cambridge Waterstones, I did not hesitate long in picking the latest Brandon Sanderson‘s book! It is set in the Mistborn universe, with the same chemical principles directing magical powers (allomancy and ferromancy). A terrific concept by the way! However, The Alloy of Law reads much more like a steampunk novel. With a serving of wild (or weird) West. And, in short, it does not read very well… (Even though it reads fast, I was done with it by Sunday evening.)

“Numbers, patterns, movements. People seem erratic, but they actually follow patterns. Find the deviations, isolate the reason why they deviated, and you’ll often learn something. Aluminum on the floor. It’s a deviation.” (p.178)

In a sense, the novel The Alloy of Law best compares with is Gilman’s The Half-made World, that I read about a year ago. Same steampunk basics, same wild wild West atmosphere, same central characters of a female academic chafing at the Victorian constraints imposed by the society, same major role of trains… However, I feel The Half-made World is a successful and convincing construction, while The Alloy of Law sounds like an unfinished attempt. I have been amazed at the number of books published by Sanderson over the past years, especially considering the pressure he is under for completing Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I wish he had spent more time and care in polishing this book! Indeed, it greatly feels like it was rushed, with a neat idea for a backbone, but not enough meat to make the concept stand. There are too many dreary, repetitive, and overly precise descriptions of gun battles, the main male character is shallow (and only too well deserves his nickname of Wax!), the female character is more interesting but still caricaturesque, the overall plot does not make much sense, most of the dialogues are poor (e.g., when explaining “When you make an alloy, you don’t just mix two metals. You make a new one.“, p. 134), and the connection with the original trilogy is almost completely lost! (The fan-made trailer is actually quite well-made, by comparison. And covering about all main features of the book!)

I am certainly not looking forward the second volume in the series…., if any. In fact, the book is presented as a stand-alone novel, but the ending has all the loose threads (main villain still at large, love relations still unresolved, final appearance of a mythical figure, …) to proceed quickly (too quickly!) to a sequel of The Alloy of Law.

3 Responses to “The Alloy of Law”

  1. Ah! Once again, I observe that ‘Og’s readers are more intrigued than convinced by my negative review, since some already bought a copy of The Alloy of Law through my amazon associate link!

  2. Charalampos Chanialidis Says:

    First of all I have to say that I agree that the trilogy was, at least to me, surprisingly refreshing and original, especially the concept with the magical powers. I haven’t read his last book though.

    I just want to ask you if you’ve read Martin’s A Song of ice and Fire or Erikson’s: Malazan’s book of the Fallen which I consider to be amongst the top fantasy series.

    p.s. I had your book (the bayesian choice) so i don’t need more information to conclude that you must be a big fan of WOT but i would like to ask you if you thought the same thing about the first book of the series as the rest of it because I couldn’t continue reading after the first book (i found it predictable and full of fantasy cliches) but I still don’t know if it just wasn’t my cup of tea or it gets better as the story unfolds.

    • Thanks. I indeed read Martin’s A Song of ice and Fire series including the latest A Dance with Dragons (that I reviewed last Fall). I like the concepts and the stories, even though I find Martin has a tendency to get mired into irrelevant subplots and inner thoughts. I can only hope for the series to conclude! As for Erikson’s Malazan’s book of the Fallen, I have read one of the series with some difficulty: I found the plot highly confusing and could not recall or make sense of some characters…

      In answer to your postscript, I obviously appreciate very much the Wheel of Time. I also find Brandon Saunderson is doing a good job of completing Robert Jordan’s series. Now, if you do not click on the first volume, I think there is little chance you get convinced by later volumes (although The Dragon Reborn (#3) is better in my opinion, with #4-6 being also terrific!). As for the story being too “classical” fantasy, this is undoubtedly correct! It however fits my appreciation of the genre which is to create an alternative society with coherent rules at the physical but also economical, political, and sociological levels. The Wheel of Time does well at the political and economical levels. Some characters are undoubtedly caricaturesque and most young characters take too many volumes to grow up, the style is often repetitive, the culture of the continent is too uniform (with the exception of the Seanchans), granted. Jordan was suffering from a particularly severe form of page hypertrophy, granted. (but so does Martin!) Still, a large scale epic that I enjoy!

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