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Literature / The Alloy of Law

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"When I found my way out to the Roughs, when I started bringing in the warranted, I started to... Well, I thought I'd found a place where I was needed. I thought I'd found a way to do something that nobody else would do. And yet, it appears that all along, the place I left behind might have needed me even more. I'd never noticed."
Waxillium "Wax" Ladrian

First book in the Wax and Wayne series, a Sequel Series to Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn: The Original Trilogy.

Waxillium Ladrian is a lawman out in the Roughs, the untamed land beyond the mountains. On the day he receives a summons back home (which he intends to ignore), the insane outlaw Bloody Tam tricks him into shooting his girlfriend, Lessie.

Five months later, with nothing else left in his life, Wax returns to Elendel to take up the Ladrian family name and return the house to solvency following his uncle's carousing and poor business deals. He enters into an arrangement with a young woman for a marriage of mutual benefit, firmly resolving to put his past behind him, no matter how much he wishes he could just fly into the night, fighting criminals and saving people. His house depends on him, and the city has enough lawmen of its own.

But criminals called the Vanishers are staging high-drama robberies and kidnapping women. Despite his attempts to stay out of it, Wax is soon drawn in by his friend Wayne, and finds that the scheme hits closer to home than expected.

The Alloy of Law was published in 2011. The sequel, Shadows of Self, was released in October of 2015.

This novel provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abnormal Ammo: The Vanishers have aluminum bullets, designed to be used against an Allomancer, since the bullets would not be affected by allomancy. Later Wax get a few special bullets of his own, each bullet designed to work against a specific type of Allomancer by behaving differently then a normal bullet when the Allomancer uses their allomancy on it.
  • Ace Custom: Wax starts the story with his two Sterion revolvers, then ends it with those and the Vindicator, all specially designed revolvers.
  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Wax jokes that he once hit a criminal in the eye with a throwing knife while aiming for his balls. Wax later confessed was just trying to hit the man, since his aim with knives isn't very good.
  • Alternate Self: Miles's other ability besides healing is to burn gold, allowing him to see his past self and who he could have become. His Knight Templar Lawman alternate self hates him, but the process lets him take on some of those mental qualities.
  • Anti-Magic: Aluminum acts as anti-magic to allomancy, resisting its effects. This leads to Aluminum being highly valued resource worth stealing.
  • Artifact Title: This book contains three Twinborn and one Misting, but no Mistborn, unless one counts the brief appearance of Ironeyes in the epilogue.
  • The Atoner: Wayne, for his criminal past and for accidentally shooting and killing a man. He now supports the man's family financially to make up for their loss.
  • Axe-Crazy: Bloody Tan, the villain of the prologue, is a serial killer. Also, several other criminals from Wax and Wayne's Backstory, some of them quite nasty, are mentioned in passing.
  • Badass Longcoat: Half mist-cloak, half duster, all badass.
  • Badass Normal: Marasi was trained in law and is an expert shot with a rifle. While Wax and Wayne rely heavily on their Allomancy in battle she manages to contribute through multiple fights without any Allomancy. It's later revealed that she is an Allomancer as well, but her ability is not nearly as useful in a fight, thus her relying on Badass Normal approach.
  • Battle Couple: Wax and Lessie until Lessie dies in the prologue.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Everybody Lives, but the Man Behind the Man gets away, and Wax rejects Marasi. Also, the first four hostages (and possibly Wax's sister) are still missing.
  • BFG: Several guns in the book qualify.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Done by Wax to Miles repeatedly. The reason he is able to do this multiple times is because Miles has a Healing Factor that lets him regenerate his hand each time Wax ruins it. It also makes shooting the gun out of his hand one of the only effective techniques, as shooting Miles is little more than inconvenient.
  • Blessed with Suck: Being born a Cadmium Misting means one is technically an Allomancer, but only having the ability to slow down time around oneself, an ability almost entirely useless.
  • The Cameo: Hoid, Sanderson's Legacy Character who appears in every other book in the overarching multiverse of his setting, briefly appears at the wedding party, though not directly referenced by name, instead being mentioned as a shabby-looking fellow in black who might have been a beggar. The wedding in question is of two Seventeenth Shard (conspiracy) worldhoppers, according to Sanderson.
    • The newlyweds are themselves a cameo of two members of the Seventeenth Shard fansite, who are indeed married in real life.
  • The Cavalry: Wayne arrives at the head of a small army of constables to take down Miles in the finale, having been sent to fetch them at the start of the final confrontation, before Marasi started slowing down time.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • When Marasi and Wax are trying to looking for a motive, Wax mentions the extensive genealogical resources in his uncle's library, and they discover that all of the kidnapped hostages were descended from the Lord Mistborn. It turns out that his uncle was using those same records to scout said hostages.
    • After his steward tries to assassinate him, Wax doesn't even bother trying to hunt down his old weapons, because he'd given them to the man to store. Guess what show up in the final fight?
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Ranette the gunsmith is mentioned early in the book; it's no surprise when she shows up nearer the end.
    • As part of a bit of world-building, Marsh aka Ironeyes, showing up right at the end.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Marasi is convinced her Allomantic power is useless. In the end they're able to take down Miles by catching him in a slow bubble, allowing Wax and Marasi to stall enough for Wayne to arrive with enough backup to apprehend him.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Illustrator Ben Mcsweeney says he drew Allomancer Jak (in the broadsheet illustration) to resemble a cross between Teddy Roosevelt and Wild Bill Hickock.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: The Vanishers are this to the Final Empire. Where the Empire had massive amounts of manpower and resources, the Vanishers are a single bandit group, albeit one backed by a rich conspiracy. The difficulty in fighting the Empire was splitting up the armies, but the difficulty in fighting the Vanishers is finding where they are. Perhaps the most apparent contrast is when Wax, Wayne, and Marasi kill or capture around thirty Vanishers during the wedding robbery; the Vanishers are on their last legs and can't just send reinforcements.
  • Creepy Good: Ironeyes is terrifying to look at, and his idea of setting up a meeting is to Pull on Marasi's curiosity so she chases after him in a back alleyway, and then deaden all her emotions so she won't run. But all he wants is to pass on information they'll need.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Miles gives one to Wax near the end. Of course Wax was just trying to buy time as part of a Batman Gambit...
  • The Determinator: Wax, with some possibly divine help.
  • Deus ex Machina: Played with. Wax is uncertain if Harmony can actually hear him or cares about what's going on, but it certainly seems like he's providing some help during the climax. The epilogue confirms that Harmony (formerly Sazed) is definitely actively influencing events.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Pulser power (burning Cadmium), which slows time for everything in a pretty wide area...including yourself. For the user, everything outside that area just seems to radically speed up. At first blush it seems useless. In fact, it's an ideal means of keeping people in place and is crucial to capturing Miles.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Wayne, because, before he reformed, he once accidentally killed a man when he tried to rob him.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Miles works for Mister Suit, but his internal monologues make it clear that he has his own agenda and is hesitating between continuing to work for him or betraying him. However, he never gathers enough resources to be able to stop depending on his boss.
  • Elite Mooks: The Vanishers with aluminum guns.
  • Everybody Lives: Despite the book's high body count, the only non-villain to die is the pompous nobleman, Peterus, who dies insisting that the law must be followed and he won't stand by and allow the Vanishers to kidnap two women.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Both Miles and Wayne take beatings that would have killed most folks. Miles in particular will not even try to avoid taking damage because of how much he trusts his healing factor, while Wayne has to store up his healing beforehand, and tries to conserve it as much as he can.
  • Exact Words:
    • Wayne says that Wax was lying about not bringing a gun. Wax replies that he didn't bring a gun and draws a second one.
    • After Steris asks that people stop talking about shooting people and hitting them with bricks, Marasi brings up throwing knives at them.
  • Faceā€“Heel Turn: Miles, though his time as a Face was before the book started.
  • Faking the Dead: Wax's uncle Edwarn Ladrian is not, as reported, dead of a carriage accident, nor did he gamble his house into deep debt - he embezzled all of House Ladrian's money to invest in a criminal enterprise, including Miles' gang, then faked his death so he could run the new organization from the shadows. Oh, and took Wax's sister along too.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Roughs are an equivalent of the 19th century American West: small towns inhabited by people who've had enough of city life (and laws of civilized societies), lawkeepers wearing dusters and hats who hunt bandits for bounties, and savage koloss as a fantasy equivalent of Native American tribes.
  • Foreshadowing: Steris's marriage contract includes a clause for mistresses, which comes into play when it turns out that Marasi is her half-sister by her father's mistress. It's also an implicit way of telling Wax that she's fine with whatever he does in his personal life.
  • A God Am I: Miles, who due to his gold compounding can survive virtually any damage to his body. So much that he has to be shot several times by the firing squad - and this with his gold metalminds already taken off, although the observing character assumes he must still have one hidden somewhere.
  • The Gunslinger: Nearly all the main characters qualify, but Wax stands out for his Improbable Aiming Skills.
  • Healing Factor: Possessed by Wayne and Miles, though Miles's is much stronger.
  • Informed Poverty: Lampshaded. House Ladrian is desperate, and Wax feels guilty about buying luxuries when they can barely afford to pay their workers. A lot of it has to do with how their debts are so great that abstaining from Wax's purchases wouldn't make a difference.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Wax consistently hits his mark in the middle of fire fights, even while flying through the air, as well as pulling off quite a few remarkable shots including shooting a bullet in mid air to redirect it into a target's head (with the help of Wayne slowing time), and blasting multiple guns out of Miles' hand, then blasting the weapon away from him to truly disarm him.
  • Karma Houdini: Mr. Suit, mastermind and shadowy organization leader, gets away with nothing to implicate him but Wax's hearsay and theories.
  • Kick the Dog: The Vanishers should NOT have shot the old constable offering himself as a hostage in exchange for Marasi and Steris.
  • Liquid Assets: Feruchemical abilities work on a basis of this. Store a liquid asset you don't want and use it later. This can allow saving up healing by staying constantly sick to use it when badly wounded, or storing weight to make yourself light to expand it later to become extremely heavy.
  • Living Doll Collector: Bloody Tam, the serial killer at the beginning, makes carefully composed scenes using corpses.
  • Living Legend: Marasi views Wax this way, even referring to him explicitly as such in her internal monologue. By the end of the book, it's clear his reputation from the Roughs has started to spread in the City as well. It started when he and Wayne killed 31 Vanishers and captured 5 more in the middle of a crowded wedding reception with the wedding guests receiving some minor injuries ''and no fatalities''. Of course, by the end of the book they've completely vanquished the Vanishers and recovered Wax's fiancée, and the city has granted them privileged lawman status.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: As in the original Mistborn Trilogy, the magic is very clearly defined. Each Allomantic or Feruchemical effect is very clearly defined and functions the same always. What metals can be burned by individuals is clearly defined. The only unique variation to this, Miles's ability to burn gold to heal due to him possessing both gold Allomancy and gold Feruchemy, which compound off of each other, is treated as a simple unique effect of two abilities feeding off of each other, and was always part of the world, if not mentioned before - mostly because apart from the Lord Ruler himself there were no people combining these two types of abilities.
  • Mage Killer: Any Vanishers armed with aluminum bullets effectively becomes one of these. Luckily the bullets are Too Awesome to Use so the Vanishers don't always load them.
    • Ranette has also been designing Hazekiller bullets to go after specific kinds of Allomancers, such as a bullet with a ceramic tip to go after Coinshots (the tip won't be affected by their Push, so it'll keep going and kill them).
  • Magic Pants: Miles sets off dynamite in his hand to escape a net. His shirt is destroyed, but his pants survive.
  • Marriage of Convenience: House Ladrian needs an influx of money to continue running much longer, so one of Wax's first reluctant goals is to find a suitable partner, but his ambivalence ends up offending many. Lesser but richer House Harms ends up being one of his last hopes, and Steris is so aware of the obvious need for this trope, she spends their first meeting detailing her written contract, which outlines their courting period, eventual marriage, her financial planning, and allowances for the inevitable affairs. The end of the book implies that they might be able to come to a more equitable arrangement, founded at least on mutual respect.
  • Meta Twist: A rich minor nobleman brings along a 'cousin' to the city, and pays for her education. Meanwhile, tales of mysterious thieves interrupt the conversation. Unlike Vin and Lord Renoux, Lord Harms isn't in league with the Vanishers, and Marasi is not The Mole.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • Wax can't forget the moment he missed Bloody Tan and accidentally shot his wife Lessie in the head.
    • Even years after, Wayne is still haunted by his Accidental Murder, when he accidentally shot a man he was robbing. As a result, he has troubles using guns, as his hands tend to shake every time he holds one.
  • The Namesake: The book's title is probably based off of one of Miles's quotes:
    I served [the law] too. But now I serve something better. The essence of the law, but mixed with real justice. An alloy, Wax. The best parts of both made into one. I do something better than chase the filth sent to me from the city.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Wax was doing a perfectly fine job of staying out of the Vanishers robberies, even with Wayne's prodding, and up to and during the initial attack on the wedding reception he was at. Then they kill a retired constable, prepare to fire on the crowd, try to take Marasi, and do take Steris. Cue the Curb Stomp Gun Battle, and a personal stake in taking Miles down. Possibly invoked by Suit, who was calling the kidnapping targets and ended up better off with Miles taken down.
  • No-Sell: Alumminum bullets are a threat to Allomancers due to their ability to No-Sell an Allomancer's attempts to defend against them, flying straight at the target without being redirected somewhere safer by the allomancer.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Wax's uncle, to a degree that makes him an instant Chessmaster. Incompetent noblemen gambling and carousing their houses into financial ruin is a plot point that shows up often enough that even most readers wouldn't bother to question it.
  • Out-Gambitted: Miles is eventually Out-Gambitted by Wax after several rounds of going back and forth with the gambits.
  • Rejected Apology: Wayne has been trying for years to make up for accidentally killing a man during a robbery. Despite his supporting his family financially for years, they have made it clear they do not forgive him.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Marasi looks to be a replacement for Lessie, as she shows the same eagerness on the hunt for the Vanishers as Lessie did bounty hunting with Wax. Wax becomes aware of the trope and consciously avoids it, choosing to let Lessie go and move ahead with his engagement to Steris.
  • Sequel Hook: The epilogue is pretty much one giant Sequel Hook.
  • Shadow Archetype: Miles to Wax, as well as to Kelsier.
    • The Vanishers as a whole are this to the Skaa rebellion in Final Empire. They're both disenfranchised groups who live outside of the law, but where the Skaa join for ideology and usually because they can't live a normal life, the Vanishers mostly join up for money, and one is encouraged to plead guilty and make an honest living. Perhaps the most apparent similarity is the wedding robbery compared to the raid on Holstep Garrison; in both cases, the leader lost control of his men and lost almost everyone, and laments that they're done for.
  • Super Breeding Program: Hypothesised to be the reason for kidnapping allomancer females.
  • Steal the Surroundings: How the train robberies are being carried out. Miles and his gang are using a crane to lift the loaded railway cars off the tracks and replacing them with identical, empty duplicates.
  • Steampunk: The technology used in this period of Scadrial's history features this aesthetic very strongly.
  • Take Me Instead: Enraged at the Vanishers taking two young women as hostages, a retired constable vehemently demands to be taken instead. He gets shot.
  • Taking You with Me: After trying to poison and shoot Wax and failing, Tillaume resorts to blowing up the whole room with dynamite.
  • Tinfoil Hat: Actually an aluminum foil hat, and it turns out they are useful for blocking Allomancy-based mind control.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Part of the reason why Wax and Wayne are able to kill so many of the Vanishers when Steris is kidnapped is that the Vanishers didn't already have their aluminum bullets ready as they were ordered, being reluctant to waste the expensive metal on normal targets.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Played with: Wax has two plans to deal with Miles. We aren't told much of either in advance, but Plan A fails while plan B works.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Miles thinks of himself as one, as he believes he's fighting the "real" criminals, aka the aristocrats.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Inverted Trope; Aluminum is an expensive and rare commodity worth complex robbery schemes to pull off in the series. However, in real life it's a worthless shiny foil. Justified, as in the mid-1800s, aluminum really was more valuable than gold.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Turns out that Mr. Suit was running a masterful one throughout the whole book. Miles' robberies of valuable aluminum were intended to sabotage House Tekiel's security and insurance businesses. Unable to pay the steep penalties for all the robberies, the House crashes, letting Suit buy them out cheaply using House Ladrian's embezzled funds. If Miles succeeds, Suit controls both his gang and the security business. If Miles is captured and a majority of the stolen property returned, the security and insurance companies are returned to full power under Suit's control, putting him in even better position. This doesn't even include the side-project of acquiring many women of allomantic heritage, which is also successful and only Wax seems to be paying attention to it, presuming his missing sister is included.