I’m sure Brandon Sanderson won’t be the last person to play around with evolving his/her fantasy world into some imagined future, but he was the first to do it, and that’s really something. This book actually happened sort of by accident. He was always planning on taking the world of the Mistborn trilogy (called Scadrial) and moving it forward to do two more trilogies, one set in a 1980s equivalent world, and a space opera where Allomancy (magic) exists side by side with SPACE STUFF. I mean, that’s so cool my brain can’t even process it. When it eventually happens I’m sure I’ll lose my mind over it. But on the way to those books, this one-book happened first. It’s set three hundred or so years after the events of the original trilogy, and what was once a traditional fantasy type feudal world is now a society in the midst of its industrial revolution. Trains are still new, electricity is coming, and by George there are guns everywhere.
It sort of has this steampunk/urban fantasy vibe going for it, only there are no Victorian social mores to get in the way (it’s actually super feminist because of the legacy of Vin from the original trilogy, although class is still an issue, as it was in the original trilogy) and steam power isn’t really a thing. So it’s not steampunk, but it sort of feels like it. What it does do is take the magic system and the creatures and the people and the culture from the original trilogy, and let them take their natural course down the evolutionary train. The result is something unlike anything I’ve read before and I was enamored of it almost immediately.
And that’s just the tone and the world. To top it all off, the characters and the dialogue are fantastic. I loved every single character almost instantly, even the ones that are supposedly hard to like. Our main character is former Lawkeeper Wax (aka Waxillium Ladrian, a lord who is descended from Breeze, one of the characters in the original trilogy). He’s just returned from the Roughs (sort of equivalent to the Old West) upon the death of his uncle and must now act as the head of House Ladrian, all the while still dealing with the fallout from a devastating loss. He goes straight for a while, but when a mysterious group calling themselves the Vanishers start pulling large heists and taking hostages, he’s pulled back into the lawkeeper game. His old partner Wayne has a big part in that, and Wayne is just delightful. I love him individually, and I love his dynamic with Wax.
The plot is more simple than the original trilogy, and that’s by design. This is essentially a crime/mystery/adventure novel taking place in a fantasy setting with elements of westerns, urban fantasy and steampunk all thrown in, and it works beautifully. In fact, it worked so beautifully, Sanderson decided to write another unplanned trilogy to continue the story before he hopped to the 80s and then outer space. So basically this book is like a fun prologue to a trilogy of books I’m assuming will feel similar to this one, but maybe have a bit more to do with the mythology of Scadrial (the planet) and the Cosmere in general (the Cosmere being the shared universe all his adult books are set in).
Anyway, whatever the fuck. I’m in for all of it, Sanderson’s whole thing. Sign me up for all the newsletters and take all my money. Bring it on.