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Wax and Wayne: The Alloy of Law - Review

Posted April 4th, 2024 at 05:41 PM by TGRF
TGRF Reviews: the Alloy of Law

I was able to get my hands on the continuation of the Mistborn world - the Wax and Wayne series - over Christmas, and was able to sit down and read the relatively short first book recently. I wanted to get my thoughts down before I started the second book.

Since my recent ratings have been generally lower than I felt they should be, I've opted to stop rating individual sections or aspects of media in these reviews, and instead simply provide an overall rating which I feel is more accurate. I'll still offer my thoughts on the individual aspects as usual.

Ratings:
5: Amazing, above flawless.
4: Flawless, but doesn't really stand out.
3: Might have some issues, but works fine.
2: Has some issues which might detract from the media.
1: Flawed, bring the media down noticeably.

Title: The Alloy of Law
Author: Brandon Sanderson
My Rating: 2.85/5 - mostly mediocre

Summary: The world of the Mistborn trilogy has progressed since the last time we saw it. When last we witnessed allmonatic powers, things felt grounded in a fantasy setting, albeit with the occasional pocket-watch or something similar.

Not so now. Technology has progressed, and guns and skyscrapers are present. Sanderson said he styled the setting after the late 19th century, and it's clear to see, with the urban city booming with new electric lights and skyscrapers, while the wilds miles away feel very much like an old western.

Allomancy has changed as well. Gone are Mistborn, the legendary allomancers with access to the full range of power. The Allomantic bloodlines have diluted, and now allomancers only have one power, coupled with one from Feruchemy if they are lucky.

It was definitely interesting to see how the world has progressed, including how religions have formed around the events of the Mistborn trilogy.

Alloy of Law is centered around Wax, a lawman out of place in the city. Despite his efforts to 'retire', Wax is drawn into a conflict against a sinister gang of thieves, led by a mysterious man who may be more of a threat than anyone initially realized...

Tension
Alloy of Law was, I feel, a largely mediocre book, and it comes down to two main reasons. Tension is one of them. I've come to expect slow, meandering openings from Sanderson, leading to quick, relentless, twist-heavy endings. Alloy of Law had the typical opening, but the ending (save perhaps for the last part) was also oddly low on tension.

I can't with certainty say why this was. At pretty much any point I could have put the book down and walked away (indeed, there were several day-long gaps in my reading). My best guess as to the cause of this low tension would be the actions of the heroes.

There is an odd lack of fear in Alloy of Law. The two main characters, Wax and Wayne, are trying to take down a gang of thieves and their dangerous leader, and while they are in mortal peril plenty, and there seems to be no way to defeat the villain, they never really show it.

They talk about how dangerous things are, but when it comes time to act, there's no hint of fear. No hesitation, no doubts, no wondering if they'll make it out alive. Not in any amount that made a difference, anyway. I would guess that it's this which contributes to the apparent lack of danger, and thus the lack of tension. I never once believed that any of the main characters would die, or even be seriously harmed.

I do also have to mention that the first part of the book was - as is typical with Sanderson openings - meandering and actually difficult to get through. There was no clear goal, obstacle, or conflict of any kind. The book only started with part 2.

Characters
The second area I feel like this book failed was with the characters. Don't worry - the characters are also what made the book good; I'll get to that. However, I have to say that the characters seemed undeveloped.

Oddly, the important side characters seemed to have much more 'character' than the main character, Wax. By contrast, he felt oddly undeveloped and emotionless. Now granted, I'm fairly certain he was supposed to be suppressing his emotions, but he didn't come across that way, and instead came across more Vulcan-like than anything else. The other side characters were more interesting to read.

I feel that this, with the lack of tension, made for an extremely low amount of investment and interest, which is exactly what I felt nearly the entire time I was reading.

Dialogue
Now there were some good things. The dialogue especially I feel was probably the best part of the book. Dialogue is a strength of Sanderson's, and the lines in this book delivered some good wit, and definitely made me notice them several times. Marasi and Wayne especially had the best lines, and the other characters seemed on point with their dialogue.

Twists
Sanderson is of course a master of twists, but this book was oddly devoid of them. There was a 'revelation' at the end, which had no set up and thus felt like less of a twist and more of a set up for the sequel. Which I believe was intentional.

The only true twist came at the climax, and while it was delivered well and built up properly, it alone was nothing compared to the deluge I've grown accustomed to for Stormlight books.

I can only assume that the twists will follow in the later books.

Convenience
I have to note one thing. Sanderson has been known to write himself out of dead ends with convenience. However, there's usually a reason for it, some explanation for the way things happened.

Towards the end of this book, there is one incident of such blatant, completely unexplained convenience, that I literally had to pause and make sure I had just read the passage correctly. The event was so convenient that it is completely unplausible, and shattered my suspension of disbelief entirely.

The fact that it didn't even need to be there (Sanderson could have easily edited it out) makes me almost certain that it will play a part later on in the series, but as the book stands... I still cannot believe that was included. I won't spoil anything, in case you read the book.

Verdict
Would I recommend the book? If it were a standalone story, no. It is interesting to see how the world of Mistborn has progressed, but on its own that is not enough to make up for what is essentially a lackluster story. However, I still have hope that Sanderson will come through in the sequels. Time will tell.

Until then, keep writing. And don't let my criticism get you down - I do it to everyone.

~TGRF.
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