Rating: 4 out of 5.

When I first heard that Brandon Sanderson was planning to do a second Mistborn series, set in a later era on Scadrial, I had mixed expectations.  On the one hand, ‘rebooting’ a series that is effectively concluded rarely goes well, even if it’s set in a different time period.  On the other hand, I find the concept compelling, and if anyone could pull it off well, it would be Sanderson.  Alloy of Law proved that confidence well-placed – if you manage some expectations.

The main expectation: don’t expect epic fantasy.  From the tone to the characterization to the plot, Alloy of Law is drastically different from the first Mistborn era.  Instead of slotting well into the epic fantasy genre, this is more like a western mystery with fantastic set-dressing and world-building elements.  It also reads as a self-contained story, though it lays out elements for the larger conflict that will define the succeeding three books in the era, which is often a strength of Sanderson’s series.  However, if you are like me and not a huge fan of mysteries, don’t worry: this book doesn’t read like the prototypical mystery.

Plus, there’s magic, which makes everything more exciting.  We were promised more exploration of feruchemy, and the abilities of ‘mistings,’ and both of these promises are fulfilled with this book (and the later books that follow it).  Instead of the somewhat overpowered mistborn, we have a world in which the magic powers have faded, but now exist more often in combination, which makes for some spectacular effects.  Thanks to the advances in technology that are concomitant with Sanderson’s decision to progress the clock a few hundred years, the magic system manages to be both new and familiar simultaneously.

Keeping in mind that the time gap between the end of Hero of Ages and the beginning of Alloy of Law is only a few centuries is important, because otherwise the number of references to events and characters in the original Mistborn trilogy can seem forced.  Based on the technology level, it can seem like more time should have passed, but thanks to certain events at the conclusion of Hero of Ages, it makes sense that less time was needed to see the changes that occurred.

Of the quartet of second era Mistborn books, this first one might be my favorite.  The characters are dynamic and interesting, we have just enough magic and twists to avoid it becoming a tropey western novel, and it really shows off the problem solving and plot advantages of wielding a hard magic system like Sanderson employs.  It’s a tight story, not too long, not too weighty, and an excellent refresh of the Mistborn concepts and ideas.  Despite its differences, or perhaps because of them, I enjoyed this just as much as The Final Empire, and I think that you will, too.

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