My 14-Year-Old Self Might Take Issue with The Alloy of Law
As we get ready for the release of The Alloy of Law, I find myself wondering what the teenage me would think of what I’m doing in this book. You see, I became a fantasy addict when I was about fourteen, and one of my mantras quickly became, “If it has guns, it’s not good fantasy.”
Now here I am, adding guns to my most successful fantasy series.
Despite the ways I’ve changed over the years, despite my belief that fantasy should be (and is becoming) something more than the standard “guy living in idealized chivalrous England leaves his farm and saves the world,” a voice inside of me is screaming that nobody will buy this book. Because it has guns.
I don’t believe that voice, but I think it says something interesting about me and others like me. Perhaps we fantasy readers sometimes mix up correlation and causation in our fantasy novels. In fact, I’m more and more convinced that taste for a specific genre or medium is often built on shaky ground.
An example may help. I have a friend who once claimed he loved anime.
Over the years, he consistently found anime shows superior to what he found on television. But as he started to find more and more anime, he told me that he discovered something. He liked the anime he’d seen at first because these were the shows that were successful and well made, the ones with the quality or broad appeal to make the jump across cultures. He found that he didn’t like all anime—he only liked good anime. Sure, the medium had something important to do with it—but his enjoyment came more from the quality of his sample than the entire medium.
Likewise, I’ve come to find that what I enjoy is a good story. Genre can enhance this—I’m probably going to like a good fantasy more than a good thriller or romance because worldbuilding and magic appeals to me. In the end, however, it isn’t the lack of guns (as my young self assumed) that draws me to fantasy stories. It’s the care for setting, pacing, and character development.
This is actually a correlation/causation fallacy, and I wonder if I’m the only one to have made it. Many of the books in the fantasy section we love (perhaps because of the setting attention or the types of writers attracted to fantasy and SF) have dragons. Do we therefore make the assumption that we only like books with dragons? These two things (the dragons and our enjoyment) are parallel to, but not completely responsible for one another.
On the other hand, maybe I just think about this kind of thing too much.
Either way, I present to you The Alloy of Law. A look at the Mistborn world several hundred years after the events of the original trilogy, where the industrial revolution has finally hit and knowledge of gunpowder is no longer suppressed. That means guns. Lots of guns. And magic too.
The young me might have been horrified, but the thirtysomething me finds the mix to be exciting, particularly in a world where the magic is directly related to metal.
The Alloy of Law (978-0-7653-3042-0; $24.99) is the new stand-alone novel by Brandon Sanderson set in the Mistborn Universe. It releases from Tor Books on November 8, 2011, so strap on your guns, down a vial of allomantic metals, and dig in!
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