The Alloy of Law  - Brandon Sanderson

~~Moved from GR~~


The Alloy of Law

by Brandon Sanderson


Alloy (n.)   (Paraphrased from American Heritage and Webster)

1. A homogeneous mixture or solid solution of two or more metals. 
2. A mixture; an amalgam: "A combination of epic fantasy and western"
3. Anything added that serves to reduce quality or purity.*
4. (v.) To debase by the addition of an inferior element; adulterate.


I think I should note that my review is thoroughly unfair. I don't like the perfect cowboy/James Bondsian heroes, and the protagonist here definitely is one. So for me, at least, The Alloy of Law reads like a young boy's daydream: a John Wayne style character who is also a practitioner of magic, also a nobleman, and also an intelligent philosopher. He always gets his man, can shoot perfectly, has a loyal wisecracking sidekick, can fly into the air, and of course is also a nobleman with a loyal retainer. This shootin' sheriff Clint Eastwood dude is of course devastatingly attractive to the wimmenfolk around him. And those women. As always, Sanderson likes his wimmenfolk intelligent, submissive, and slavishly devoted to their menfolk. Ugh. Here's our heroine's own words, coming out of her mouth in between her obsessive fangirling of the hero and her "clinging" and "shaking" (the two words that keep being used to describe her):

"Can I admit something to you? I like the lacy dresses and smelling like flowers....I don't mix well with dirt, grime, and an overall lack of personal hygiene. And to be perfectly honest, I have no problem letting men like you be the ones to belt on revolvers and shoot people."

At least in my opinion, Sanderson just doesn't get it. His words echo the old antifeminist line--that not all women need to have careers or be strong, and they shouldn't be forced to be so. Fine, and in itself, utterly unarguable, but it rings rather hollow when all of the women decide to follow the second option. Just give us one heroine--just one-- who is strong, determined, steps out of the woman's proper sphere without regrets*, and is not devoted to a man!

But back to Alloy of Law.
The story's handsome, impossibly skilled, impossibly flawless protagonist has returned from his stint as a sheriff in the outer reaches to a whole new amount of trouble: a bunch of thieves who are a-stealin' that most preciously guarded of all a man's posessions: the wimmenfolk. To make it even worse, they are threatening them with A Fate Worse Than Death: breeding them to produce a new batch of mistlings. And that doesn't appear to bother Sanderson much. The main issue, of course, is that these women are most likely now damaged goods for their proper owners...aah, back on a feminist rant.

Right. Right. The story. There is a lot of admiring from the wimmenfolk, drinkin', shootin', and heroics. If you are a teenage boy or want a Wild West male fantasy escapist adventure, you'll love the book. If you are getting tired of Sanderson's perfect protagonists, stiff, unnatural dialogue, and intelligent but obedient women, be prepared for more of the same. Add to that a thoroughly unsatisfactory ending and not particularly impressive worldbuilding (apparently, whatever the magic or differences in environment, their world is fated to be almost identical to our own), the best thing about the book is the casual mentions of the characters from Mistborn.

And just in case you weren't feeling insulted enough, the main characters' names are Wax and Wayne. Yes, the punniness is just that bad. Oh, how I hope that wasn't intentional.      


Overall, I think it's probably a good read, if westerns, 1950s-style protagonists, and admixture continuations are your cup of tea.  Personally, I like stories to end. I genuinely enjoyed Mistborn, and I thought the trilogy had drawn to a satisfactory conclusion. Long story short, for me, these types of mixtures and additions only diminish the value of the original.




*I know alloys are also supposed to be stronger, but the only thing that got stronger for me was my irritation.

**Yes, I know Vin is an action girl, but she doesn't want to be. What she wants to do is go to parties and grow her hair out and wear dresses. She repeatedly thinks this, especially when she gets "stranded" in upper-class living somewhere in the second book. Just give me one female character who doesn't agonize and agonize over the desire to be "feminine"!  Please!