Tuesday 15 December 2015

#CBR7 Book 136: "The Alloy of Law" by Brandon Sanderson

Page count: 392 pages
Rating: 4 stars

In helping me establish some of the background for the plot of this book, here is the Goodreads summary:

In the three hundred years since the events of the Mistborn trilogy, science and technology have marched on. Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads, electric lighting, and even the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds. 

Even with these advances, the magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands, known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for those trying to establish order and justice.

One is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax must now put away his guns and assume the duties incumbent upon the head of a noble house - until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs. 

So our hero is Wax, or the ridiculously monikered Lord Waxillium Ladrian, who has to leave his position as a lawkeeper in the Wild West-like areas of the Roughs. While he is a legend with his guns, and his Allomancy, a personal tragedy has made him wary of using his skills anymore and since propriety seems to demand that the High Lord of a noble house don't run around catching common criminals, he instead tries to figure out what to do to make the House of Ladrian slightly more solvent. The answer appears to a marriage alliance to someone with a generous dowry, and the lady Steris appears to fit the bill. Unfortunately, at their first public appearance together,  she gets abducted by the Vanishers, the band of robbers/kidnappers who have been plaguing the city, stealing train loads of metals and taking women of good families as hostages.

Wax, his former partner Wayne (who is hilarious) and lady Steris' country cousin (in reality her illegitimate sister) Lady Marasi, an unobtrusive and quietly clever university student, team up to track down the Vanishers, rescue Steris and hopefully the other missing ladies as well.

It's been a fair few years since I read the original Mistborn trilogy (or any Sanderson really) and while I wouldn't recommend reading this book without first having read the other three books, I didn't feel too confused about the world building and the magic system, even though I hadn't re-read. This is partially because Sanderson has let three hundred years pass since his original trilogy, so while that was set in a sort of fantasy Renaissance, this is set in a sort of 19th Century developing technology world, with the same rules of physics and inherent magics. Sanderson is famously excellent at world building, and this series is no exception. While the book started a bit slowly and I was unsure of Wax as a protagonist, I got more engaged as his buddy Wayne showed up and they decided to actually solve some crime instead of Wax just trying and failing to be a stuffy society lord.

As a team, Wax, Wayne and Lady Marasi are a lot of fun. There is clearly romantic tension being set up between Wax and Marasi, which I'm hoping develops into something more in later books. While Wax is mourning, and believes himself to be too old for Marasi (plus there's the whole matter of him possibly entering a marriage of convenience with her rich half-sister), I have faith that she'll make him see sense. Poor Steris doesn't get to do much more than be girl hostage in this book, but despite her strange, stiff demeanour, I have faith that she too will turn out to be an interesting side character.

There are going to be two more books in this second trilogy in Sanderson's Mistborn universe. The second one is already out and the third book comes out early next year. I may wait a little while to read the second, so I can jump straight into the third without having to wait. Having taken quite a break from the books of the terrifyingly prolific Mr. Sanderson, I think I'm ready to have him wow me again.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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