Mistborn: The Alloy of Law (2011) by Brandon Sanderson

With The Alloy of Law, Brandon Sanderson begins revealing his very ambitious plan with the Mistborn series. Rather than just write one very good fantasy trilogy, that did an excellent job subverting the genre on so many levels, he goes a step further and grandly subverts the “unchanging world” paradigm most fantasy is stuck in (where technology barely develops over centuries, and societies are essentially static) with not only this novel, where Mistborn is taken three centuries later into a 19th century American wild west type setting, but his plans to eventually follow up with a trilogy set in the equivalent of the 1980s, and a trilogy set in a futuristic spacefaring age.

A weakness of the story, to me, was that the genre subversions Mistborn is known for didn’t go that far beyond the grand worldbuilding move of transitioning Scadrial society realistically three centuries into the future. There wasn’t really any subverting or deconstructing of any other fantasy conventions, and that was possibly my favourite aspect of the first Mistborn trilogy. The book is as much a western as a fantasy in many ways, but the western tropes are played straight too. Perhaps I just need to adjust to a new series where the focus isn’t really on subversion anymore, but I’ll be pretty disappointed in that case, as that was a huge part of what made Mistborn great to me.

As for the story itself, the characters are fun, if thinly sketched. The humour is hit or miss, but much more hit (at least for me) than most of Brandon’s other attempts. The worldbuilding is absolutely excellent; Brandon did an excellent job realistically transitioning the world into a new era. I particularly liked the religious developments. The connections to the original trilogy were also done well.

I give it three gold bracers, and a weapon of vindication.


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