I’m probably one of the only reviewers that hasn’t read the rest of the Mistborn series, but I hereby claim Alloy stands just fine on its own. It’s a fun, fast read with engaging dialogue. I finished Alloy after coming off a shadowy* low, and what a relief. Sanderson can write with skill, and even a supposedly ‘toss-off’ book like this is enjoyable. Fabulous job of showing, not telling, as well as avoiding the notorious fantasy/sci-fi info-dump.
The setting is vaguely steampunk, although the technology to date seems strictly Victorian with the onset of electric lamps and musings on the horseless carriage overtaking coaches. The magic systems of Allomancy and Feruchemy bring nice twists and allow for variations in technology. The story started off with a wild-west shootout and man-hunt, and the scene is quickly set for some major, character-debilitating guilt. I often have trouble warming to the guilt-ridden characters, but thankfully we are spared overmuch character self-flagellation.
The scene jumps to
London (cough) Elendel, where our lead Waxillium is morosely resuming his obligations as head of an extensive household. I had a moment or two of reading hesitation when he escapes a formal society ball by doing Matrix-style flying through the skies. On reread, its clear that Sanderson uses this time to familiarize us with both the magic system and the city setting. Unfortunately, we stall again on a guilt-ridden scene as Wax witnesses a shootout and is unable to act.
Thankfully, Wax’s one-time sidekick, Wayne (groan), appears and steals the show. Wayne has a talent for disguise, a penchant for thievery disguised as trading (since he is, after all, reformed ) and a delightfully irreverent approach to life. He promptly pretends to interrogate Wax on a series of vanished freight shipments, frustrating Wax: “Right now, my criminal genius mind is wondering if I can stuff your corpse anywhere that wouldn’t be too obvious,” then doing his best to interject himself into a betrothal meeting. Wayne had me close to spewing coffee with his compliment to Marasi, “You have a pretty accent too, and some nice bounce to you in the cloud area.” “Dare I ask what that is?” “The white, puffy things that float high above the fruitful land where the seeds are planted.” His “trades” are a source of smiles throughout the book–at one point, he leaves a silk shirt for a conner’s (copper’s) uniform. Listening to Wayne drop into an assumed character is fun as well, as he schools his thoughts into the assumed voice. “Brettin would outrank him, barely. Really unfortunate, Wayne thought. Here I am, twenty-five years as a constable, and still only a three-bar. He should have been promoted ages ago.”
Perhaps one of the smallest missteps is incomplete secondary character development–Marasi is blushing nearly every other sentence, even after Wax and Wayne have a conversation with her about overusing it as a modesty device. I confess I’m vaguely interested to see where the faint romantic interest goes, as I’m hoping Sanderson will do something unexpected with it.
Still, overall it was fun, and I’ll certainly look for the next in the series as well as going back to read the first three. A solid three and a half star read.
*reference to my unfortunate experience with Week’s Shadow books.