Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Reflections: The Alloy of Law

Adam C. Zern opines on Brandon Sanderson's The Alloy of Law:

"I really enjoyed The Mistborn Trilogy (or the Final Empire trilogy if you want to be technical).  It definitely had its problems, some glaring and repeated over the course of all three books, but overall I thought they were a creative and fun ride.  The Alloy of Law, also by Brandon Sanderson, intrigued me tremendously since it takes place 300 years after the events of The Hero of Ages and is set during an industrial revolution of sorts.  It's a fascinating idea and one I was extremely willing to embrace, but I think the book for the most part is a miss, even if I wanted it to be a hit.

The most glaring flaw of The Allow of Law is its premise, which feels more like a short story than a whole new novel.  After the incredible scope of the original trilogy, which became cosmic in nature, it was hard to care all that much about The Alloy of Law's conflicts.  This lack of commensurate stakes or consequences with the original trilogy would have been a barely noticeable difference if the characters involved were worthy of my attention and concern; yet, I didn't care all that much about any of the characters.  The protagonist, Waxillium, had good moments, but nothing to really endear him to me. Sanderson's weakness in writing believable and natural dialogue is on display yet again in The Allow of Law, sometimes painfully so, and it hurts the book enough that it never quite recovers.  Lastly, the last ten or so pages is a jarring attempt to link this stand-alone story in with the overall drama of the original trilogy.  It doesn't work.  It feels out of place, a little cheap, and tacked on. 

Are there redeeming qualities to The Alloy of Law?  A few.  It takes place in the Mistborn universe, which is its greatest strength.  It's a wonderful fantasy world to tell stories in and the industrial revolution setting works surprisingly well.  The inserts of the Broadsheets—newspapers—throughout the book were extremely effective in creating a sense of place and time.  I liked being in the world but didn't care too much about the characters inhabiting it or about the things they were doing.

The Alloy of Law was a big disappoint for me.  I think Sanderson has plenty to work with in his Mistborn universe, including continuing the story abandoned at the end of The Alloy of Law.  My hope is that the follow-up stories will be better.  (Having read 9 books altogether in the Ender's Game universe I know that some books are great and some are pretty poor but one stinker doesn't cripple a franchise).  After reading The Alloy of Law, it may take me a little bit more motivation to jump into the next Mistborn book, whenever it's released, but I'm still willing to do so."

Other topics of interest:
Reflections: The Hero of Ages
Adaptation, Please: Mistborn

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