Here is the first batch of annotations for The Alloy of Law. As with all of the other annotations here on the site, each annotation contains spoilers for the current chapter. Spoilers for chapters after the current one are hidden by spoiler tags. We recommend you read the book before reading the annotations! Also, please note that there are not yet annotations for the prologue or first chapter.
Wax and Marasi talk philosophy and his past
This sort of thing is another hallmark of the Mistborn books. (And, well, perhaps my writing in general.) I intended this book to be faster paced than what I term an “epic” like any of the books in the original trilogy. I wanted to move at a fair clip and not get slowed too often by conversations like this one. However, conversations like these are what add depth to characters for me, so I didn’t feel it right to cut them completely.
Here, we get to see Waxillium’s and Marasi’s different views on life, the ways that who they are ground what they do. Waxillium is a realist. He sees things as they are. (Or how he thinks they are, at least.) He has a touch of a philosopher inside of him, as he wonders about what the truth is—but he wants to find that truth, prove it. He’s not unaccommodating or harsh, but he does believe in absolutes and wants to find them.
Marasi is more interested in extremes because they’re interesting, not because she is seeking for truth or reality. She’s like a moth drawn to flame, fascinated by outliers. She’s good with numbers and statistics, and can find those outliers; then she reads as much as she can about them. She could name for you every serial killer in Elendel’s history, and talk about their lives and what led them to do what they did. She wouldn’t consider it morbid, just fascinating. Wax, reading the same thing, would find his eye twitching. He’d get through a part of the reading, then find himself out on patrol, trying to run across someone doing something wrong that he could stop.
Yes, the butler is a traitor. It’s a cliché, but it fit the narrative very well, so I went ahead and used it. I don’t think a lot of people will see it coming, though there are several clues. One of them is the fact that he makes only one cup of tea here and brings it for Wax; Tillaume is not accustomed to killing people, and he’s extremely nervous in this scene. That’s why he made the mistake of not making three cups and bringing them all over. (My writing group caught this, which amused me. They thought it was a mistake in the writing, though.)
One of the things that made me want to write this story, and keep going on it after I’d started, was the chance for good banter between Wax and Wayne. They play off one another well, and I haven’t had a chance to do a book in a while (ever since the first Mistborn book, really) that had a good, long-established relationship between main characters who I could play off each other in this way. There is something deeply satisfying for me about this kind of writing, even though it’s really just silly banter. I feel as proud of moments like Wayne toppling over because of the tea, then the conversation in the speed bubble, as I do of a deep character complexly coming to a character climax at the height of a story. That’s because, at least as I see it, this is as technically difficult to pull off—the right feel of two characters with a very long relationship, talking in a way that conveys their years of experience with one another. And, at the same time, hopefully being amusing and interesting.
It’s very dense writing, for all the fact that it doesn’t read that way. (Unlike, for example, a really good section of dense description, laden with meaning.) Part of the reason it works is because it feels so easy to the reader.