Friday, January 23, 2015

The Alloy of Law

I give Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn epic fantasy trilogy my highest marks. Demigods, kings, class warfare, and power struggles among the privileged, pitted good against evil and forced us to see that oftentimes labels may be a matter of perspective or opportunity. In this series, Sanderson created a system of magic known as "allomancy" that fit perfectly within his setting and his story. Individuals known as allomancers have the ability to use ingested metals in order to trigger a variety of physical and mental enhancements and abilities. In an age of relatively low technology, these rare individuals, especially those with enhanced powers, were especially revered or feared. The self-contained trilogy wrapped up with "i"s dotted and "t"s crossed. However, in several interviews, Sanderson has presented his future plans for developing additional books in this series set in a more modern age. Sometimes authors can be a bit too greedy and overextend themselves, thereby somehow tarnishing the original seed. That idea entered my mind as I began to read Sanderson's most recent entry in his Mistborn world, entitled The Alloy of Law.

This story takes place some three hundred years after the original Mistborn series and is part of his Wax and Wayne trilogy. The story begins in a western-style frontier land, where two allomancers, lawman Waxillium "Wax" Ladrian and his right-hand man Wayne, are doing their part to keep crime in check and stay ahead of the rogues, bandits, and ne'er-do-wells who seem to congregate in these settlements. Wax is actually the heir of an important noble family back in the big city of Elendel and must return to see to his house's affairs after his uncle is killed in an accident. As Wax needs to project an air of refined and dignified power to ensure the success of his house's business interests, he is forced to set aside his crude, shoot-from-the-hip style and settle into the role of a high lord. However, that mien doesn't last long when Wax is pulled into the fray caused by a mysterious crew known as the "Vanishers" who are hijacking train cargos as well as kidnapping various ladies of high society, including the woman who is set to become Wax's wife.

This story amounts to a sort of buddy comedy with Wax and Wayne as western-style partners in the mold of Riggs and Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The characters have a wonderful chemistry and humor that sees them through the direst of situations with trust, purpose, and panache. The main villian, one Miles Dagouter, is an allomancer with powers that make him nearly immortal. Miles once served as the lawman in the neighboring frontier province to Wax, but turned to crime as he became bitter and jaded watching the nobility pass laws simply to protect their interests while turning their backs on the working classes. A wonderful story that made me even a bigger fan of Sanderson as he pulled this new direction off without a hitch. Highly recommended reading. The next entry in this series, Shadows of Self, is tentatively scheduled for release later this year.