Right, first off, let me just say I’ve not read a single novel by Brandon Sanderson. It’s something I fully intend to rectify next month (I’ve bought The Final Empire and also The Way of Kings), but I saw some of the new posts on other sites that showcased the synopsis and artwork (which is disappointingly familiar – dare I say cliché – and similar to a number of other recent fantasy covers):
Now, the reason I’m posting all this information is not just to say “Lookit! Something new!” (which is always nice, it’s true), but because I think Sanderson’s done something pretty interesting with this novel, which I’ve not seen done with many other fantasy series.
[Warning: There are some minor spoilers in the Synopsis.]
What he’s done that piqued my interest should be evident pretty quickly from the synopsis:
Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.
Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice. One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will.
After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.
The first paragraph of the synopsis shows that Sanderson has added technological development and advancement into his series. I know this sounds pretty strange to pick up on, but how often do fantasy series – whether set over the course of decades, centuries, or millennia – ever experience any real technological modernisation? The only other one that sticks out for me is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, but it has nonetheless remained firmly in one ‘era’, so to speak.
I’ll wager that there probably are some authors who have modernised their series’ worlds, but I’ve not spotted it while perusing either bookstore shelves or Amazon UK, US or Canada. [If you know of any other authors who have developed and modernised their fantasy worlds, please feel free to let me know in the comments.]
The Alloy of Law is currently scheduled for a November 2011 release in both the UK (Gollancz) and US (Tor). With luck, I’ll have read the first three Mistborn novels by then. Quite looking forward to doing so.
One final comment: In agreement with Aidan over at A Dribble of Ink (where I first saw the artwork), I also think “Waxillium” is a pretty daft name.
Mistborn, UK Artwork