Rereading ‘The Alloy of Law’ After a Decade . . .

I didn’t pick up The Alloy of Law with the intent of writing a ‘Rereading After a Decade’ post (earlier examples include Jurassic Park and Dune), but according to my Goodreads account, I first shelved this title back in November of 2011. It being January of 2023, it’s been about 11 years since I first loaded my Sterrions and set off into the mists in pursuit of a man who can’t be killed . . .

I’ll be damned if it doesn’t feel like five decades have passed since then, all the while anxiously awaiting each new installment. Of course the latest, and final story in “Mistborn era 1.5”, The Lost Metal, just came out this past November, after gap of six years.

Not quite as bad as the wait for certain other titles I might name which rhyme with Behind (at) the Printer or Loves to Postpone (wow those are just terrible considering the time I spent on them yikes), but still quite a while.

It’s not like Brandon Sanderson has been idle during this time however. He has managed to release somewhere on the order of 16 titles since Bands of Morning, including two monster Stormlight novels (Oathbringer and Rhythm of War), an entire YA series with multiple installments (Skyward Flight), some graphic novels, and a cool little short story called Snapshot.

When your a Brandon Sanderson fan, there’s no completionism. You learn to hold out for the series you like the best, and not stress about how many other books you’re behind on.

This is the way.

And for me, Mistborn is THE series.

Mistborn: The Final Empire (Era 1 book 1), was the book that got me interested in his writing all the way back in 2007, and still one of my favorite books of all time. Sanderson is now well known for the use of magic systems in his books (to the point where it is now almost a cliche), even having coined 3 laws of magic which writers often cite as tools they’ve used to develop the magic in their own works. However, I feel this was still relatively new back when Mistborn arrived on the scene, and it was certainly new to me when I first read it in 2007.

It blew me away. Not to mention a few other twists and turns in the plot that book contained which I won’t spoil here. The magic, the world building, the characters, all combine to become something that was unlike any book I had read previously, and many I’ve read since.

Obviously I tore through the rest of the Era 1 books, but was somewhat skeptical when I first learned of Sanderson’s ‘side project’ (given how this novel came to be, the ‘secret projects’ during 2022 should have been no surprise at all), The Alloy of Law. A Western? A Fantasy book? Which was it?

In what’s come to be true Sanderson fashion, this book is a little of both. A kind of “alloy”, you might say (ehh?), and for me, another perfect mix. I don’t know if I’ve ever read any westerns, but I’ve watched a few here and there, and allusions to this American pastime are rife throughout pop culture (I even caught a couple minutes of The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly in Black Adam recently).

We know the tropes, we know what it’s supposed to look like, and I’m sure I’m not the first to think that the whole thing has gotten a little tired. Which is why Sanderson’s injection of fantasy, magic, and wonder is still so refreshing even over a decade later.

And again, because nothing Sanderson does is ever simple, Alloy of Law isn’t just a western and fantasy mashed together, it’s also a thrilling and humorous (thanks Wayne) mystery. If this seems like too much to cram into a scant (for Sanderson) three-hundred and thirty-six pages, it isn’t. AoL never felt rushed, or confusing. One of Sanderson’s strengths (I feel) has always been pacing and tension. Things are no different here. We’re constantly pulled through an impressive amount of world building by each new question, whose answer is always just around the next corner, at the end of the end of these rail tracks, or right in front of us all along though we just couldn’t see it.

Of course, Wax, Wayne, and Marasi’s adventures in AoL are part of a larger universe, the Cosmere, and while I’m starting to get fatigued with cinematic universes and having to read (or reread) ten or twelve novels just to enjoy whatever the newest installment is, Alloy of Law manages to keep references to the original Mistborn trilogy, and the larger shared universe, relatively inconsequential. Added fun which sweetens the story for those who know, but stays far away from homework or required reading. It seems “keeping up with the Cosmere” is becoming more and more important with each new installment, but I enjoyed the fact that this one was pretty self contained. A look back on simpler times.

Finally, Sanderson has mentioned often his love for Terry Pratchett and how he feels Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Might Be The Highest Form of Literature on the Planet. Having recently read Men at Arms and Feet of Clay, I could feel those influences in Wax’s story arc (as compared to Grimes), Wayne’s bizarre personality, and even the mists themselves. Maybe I’ll eventually get around to a post in which I pin it all down, but for now, just add one more cool thing to Alloy of Law’s rap sheet: homage to Sir Terry himself.

Give This One a Read?

Absolutely. After at least ten years, it’s possible I enjoyed this book EVEN MORE than I did during my original read through way back when. Come for the novelty of a fantasy western, stay for the thrilling mystery (there’s always another secret), then get your corkboard and red yarn so you can spend entirely too much time connecting allusions to previous Cosmere novels and even other author’s works as well. You won’t be disappointed.

Alright, who’s read this one? What’s the most thrilling moment? The coolest use of allomancy? What references did you catch to the rest of the Cosmere? To other authors? Leave your replies in the comments!

See you next time!


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