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Inherent Vice
Thomas Pynchon, Ron McLarty
The Best Horror of the Year Volume Five
Ellen Datlow, Laird Barron, Conrad Williams, Ramsey Campbell
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Raymond Roussel
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The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel - Brandon Sanderson, Michael Kramer I can't rouse myself to feel strongly enough about this installment to post a particularly long or detailed review. Brandon Sanderson is something of a comfort read, I guess - I'm not that impressed by his writing, but he's not actively bad, and there's a certain dorkish appeal in his complex rules-heavy worldbuilding and his archetypal characters who have personalities that, like the action scenes, read as if they started as GURPS character sheets.

The Alloy of Law is a sequel to his Mistborn trilogy, which I mostly though not unreservedly enjoyed. It takes place several hundred years after the events of the trilogy; our friends Kelsier and Vin and Spook and Sazed are now legends, deified, and the world of Scadriel has moved into the industrial age. Allomancers and Feruchemists are still around, and so is oppression of the poor by the rich, though it's not as brutal or pervasive as it was in the Emperor's day.

The tone of this book is completely different from its predecessors; it's hardly a sequel, more like an entirely different series (it's pretty obvious by the end that this is the start of a new series) set in the same world. The Mistborn trilogy was Sanderson's variation on a traditional epic fantasy (not that he hasn't already written enough of those); The Alloy of Law is more like a mix between a Western and a superhero novel. The main characters, Waxillium Landrum and his sidekick Wayne, are, respectively, a "Twinborn" with both Allomantic and Feruchemical powers, and an Allomancer who can slow time. They used to be law-keepers in the Roughs (Scadriel's "Wild West"), but Wax, who is, like all Sanderson's protagonists, the scion of a noble family, came home to attend to family business and get properly married to a proper lady befitting his station.

There are complications and a lot of plot happens, involving kidnappings, a bandit gang of mooks for Wax and Wayne to mow down before they go through a succession of Big Bads, gun-fu shoot-outs and creative uses of all the powers Sanderson has defined in intricate detail for this setting. There is also some romance involving Lady Steris, Wax's intended, and Marasi, who of course is the spunky, intelligent alternate. Sanderson gives the girls guts and personality, but they are still eminently safe and unthreatening characters who fit neatly into feminine stereotypes, just as Waxillium and Wayne are the main characters from every buddy cop bromance you've ever seen.

It was kind of fun, but the writing was relentlessly average and nothing about the story hooked me the way Mistborn did. Mistborn was about a godlike immortal Emperor inflicting an eternity of suffering on an entire world if he wasn't stopped; The Alloy of Law is a mutant-powered steampunk shoot-em-up and the villains are your basic evil masterminds. Yeah, there are hints that there is a larger plot at work and I'm sure Sanderson will eventually involve some of the big guns from the first trilogy and produce some kind of an existential threat that goes beyond Waxillium's criminal nemesis, but I just can't find myself caring that much. This is the very definition of a 3-star book; not bad, just okay, might read the next one, but not in any hurry to.