The Allow of Law by Brandon Sanderson – Book Review

Title: The Alloy of Law
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Release Date: November 8th 2011
Publisher: Tor Books
Series: Mistborn #4

I wanted to move away from static places, where millennia would pass and technology would never change. The plan then was for a second epic trilogy set in an urban era, and a third trilogy set in a futuristic era—with Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy being the common threads that tied them together.

These were the words of Brandon Sanderson in his acknowledgements to The Allow of Law, a prequel to his steampunk-era trilogy of Mistborn novels. If this novel is a taste of what’s to come in the next Mistborn trilogy, I am confident in Sanderson’s ability to set his fantasy novels in steampunk, urban, and futuristic times.

Perhaps we’ll see Mistborn robots and cyborgs, or maybe a Magneto-like character with control over metals. But how will that affect the line between fantasy and science-fiction?

But, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

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The Alloy of Law is lighthearted, action-packed addition to the Mistborn series. I recommend that you read the first Mistborn trilogy before reading this novel, as the latter glosses over much of the exposition on the workings of Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy. There are also references to past books that may confuse new readers.

What works best in this novel is the comedic banter between lead characters Wax and Wayne (even their names sound funny when said together). Their friendship reminds me a lot of the camaraderie between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Also welcome is the star-crossed attraction between Wax and Lady Marasi.

“That hat looks ridiculous.”
“Fortunately, I can change hats,” Wayne said, “while you, sir, are stuck with that face.” – Brandon Sanderson, The Alloy of Law

The huge dose of humor in this novel is a welcome break from the doom and gloom seriousness of the last one. But I can already see undertones of a much deeper story that will surely develop in the upcoming trilogy.

The Alloy of Law features a different kind of action compared to the first trilogy. At first, I found myself nostalgic for the swords, knives, staves, shields, and horseshoes. But I found myself getting used to all the guns and brawling after a couple of battle scenes.

I think Brandon Sanderson has much room to explore regarding how his magic system can work with gunpowder weapons—perhaps including the ability to influence the movement of bullets mid-flight—and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with in future novels.

The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones. – Brandon Sanderson, The Alloy of Law

Miles is a very powerful antagonist, but I would have preferred an opponent who isn’t invulnerable. His healing powers reminded me too much of Wolverine, who I think is one of the most overrated and overpowered X-Men. I would have preferred a battle among equals rather than an underdog outsmarting his opponent and winning in the end.

Nevertheless, I think this novel is a fine addition to the Mistborn series, and I’m very much looking forward to reading the next one.

Coffee Bean and Tea Reads Rating:

4 out of 5 beans

4 Beans

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The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – Book Review

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Release Date: July 8th 2014
Publisher: Harper
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #1

Here’s an strong recommendation, from one reader to another, read completely the lengthy Goodreads synopsis of The Queen of The Tearling by Erika Johansen before you begin reading the book itself.

It explains a lot about the story’s setting and core elements, which I had only the vaguest understanding of throughout reading the novel. Some early reviewers who didn’t have the benefit of this synopsis complained about the book’s unclear setting and abundance of superfluous details. With the synopsis, the setting is clear enough, the details welcome additions (instead of failures to clarify the setting).

Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book. – Erika Johansen – Queen of the Tearling

Early on, the book was promoted as the next The Hunger Games or The Game of Thrones. Though The Queen of the Tearling is vastly different from either fiction series, I enjoyed reading it. I read an e-book version. Later on, I was surprised to discover the novel’s print version was over 700 pages long.

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The Queen of the Tearling is not your typical fantasy novel. It does not have as much political intrigue as The Game of Thrones, as much action as The Hunger Games, nor as much romance or magic as The Throne of Glass—though it does have a sprinkle of everything. What it does have is a solid coming of age story.

Kelsea Raleigh must quickly learn how to become queen despite knowing so little of her past, her kingdom, and the magical powers of the Sapphire that is her birthright. Kelsea is a pillar of righteousness, representative of an ideal queen. She immediately asserts herself as an enemy of corrupt nobles and a champion of the poor. But is this really a good thing?

The mark of the true hero is that the most heroic of his deeds is done in secret. We never hear of it. And yet somehow, my friends, we know. —Father Tyler’s Collected Sermons, FROM THE ARVATH ARCHIVE Erika Johansen, Queen of the Tearling

By openly challenging her uncle, she risks assassination. By stopping the shipment of human slaves to the Red Queen of Mortmesne, Kelsea puts her whole kingdom in peril. She keeps making all these righteous yet rash decisions seemingly without considering the dire consequences of her actions. I look forward to reading how she will deal with the insurmountable challenges that she will soon face in the novel’s sequel.

Kelsea may seem annoyingly naïve at first, but I am quite fond of her being a genuinely good person. She is also very normal—not an extremely beautiful lady, shrewd politician, skilled warrior, or powerful mage. In fact, it is her being genuine and ordinary that make such an interesting character.

We don’t always choose, Majesty. We simply make the best choices we can once the deed is done. – Erika Johansen, Queen of the Tearling

My biggest issue with The Queen of the Tearling is how I still ended up lost and confused after reading the novel, despite the aid of the long synopsis. There are just too many mysteries and secrets that remain after the first book in this trilogy. However, I do look forward to reading the remaining two books, partly because Emma Watson has signed-on to play Kelsea in an upcoming movie adaptation of the trilogy.

Coffee Bean and Tea Reads Rating:

4 out of 5 beans

4 Beans

Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2016

 

I’ve made a number of new year’s resolutions for 2016, and this is one I definitely plan on keeping. I’m joining the Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge for 2016. This year, I commit to reading 15 books.

Why only 15?

For one, the books I plan to read this year are pretty long. This list includes Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, Book 2) by Brandon Sanderson and The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 2) by Patrick Rothfuss.

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Secondly, I’m also participating in The Re-Read Challenge this 2016.

Thirdly, I read books in a variety of other genres, including science-fiction, so I plan to read those as well. I wonder if there’s a sci-fi reading challenge somewhere out there? Maybe I should start one someday.

Other books I plan to read for Flights of Fantasy are:

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  • The Alloy of Law (Mistborn, Book 4) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Shadows of Self (Mistborn, Book 5) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Invasion of the Tearling (Queen of the Tearling, Book 2) by Erika Johansen
  • Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, Book 3) by Sarah J. Maas
  • Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, Book 4) by Sarah J. Maas
  • Authority (Southern Reach, Book 2) by Jeff Vandermeer
  • Acceptance (Southern Reach, Book 3) by Jeff Vandermeer
  • The Magicians (The Magicians, Book 1) by Lev Grossman
  • The Sword of Shannara (The Original Shannara Trilogy, Book 1) by Terry Brooks
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, Book 1) by Scott Lynch

I’m really excited to be participating in the 2016 FOF Challenge, and I hope to surpass my reading goal for this year.