Review: “The Allow Of Law” by Brandon Sanderson
I had the pleasure of meeting Brandon Sanderson at a reading in Edinburgh, and I’ll be honest, I’m a fan. This isn’t really an impartial review, therefore, but more a description of what I enjoyed in Brandon’s latest novel in the Mistborn series, “The Allow Of Law“.
I was intrigued by the idea of a fantasy universe which had been allowed to evolve after the (first) trilogy had concluded. The story could be labelled as a western, and it’s interesting to see how the events of the trilogy have become mythology in the “aftermath”, and how the various magic systems have Integrated into a society with firearms and steam engines. I can easily imagine this being done poorly, but in this case the transition is seamless. The theme of metals being important to magic comes through strongly—you feel that it’s part and parcel of everyday life, from slang terms through to someone running an election campaign on the basis of their immunity to emotion-altering magic!
So the message here is: it’s all about the worldbuilding. Irrespective of time period, if you admit magic into your world (and actually this applies to sufficiently advanced technology as well), what are the ramifications? If there aren’t any, then the magic or tech risks being irrelevant. Worse still, the story could veer into deus ex machina territory, and that is rarely (if ever) satisfying. Also, the ramifications can manifest in subtle ways as well as the obvious. Actually, it’s an automatic source of conflict—between the haves and have-nots, and conflict is the life-blood of writing.
The book also has a “surprising yet inevitable” climax. I saw the foreshadowing of what would happen much earlier, but was so swept up the action that I completely forgot about it. That takes skill, and it true was a forehead-slapping moment for me. Satisfying.
If I have a criticism, it’s that I’m not aware of Brandon having plans for a sequel, and the ending had me begging for a sequel. Maybe that’ll happen with the next trilogy, when that happens.