“Bad hats. A bad hat could make a man right disagreeable, and that was the truth.” So goes Wayne’s theory, but the theory goes only so far; the antagonist in The Alloy of Law is a man who has always detested hats. On the other hand (head?), Wayne is continually trading hats, looking for the proper fit after his lucky hat is stolen. Of the two men on the cover, Wayne is the one touching the brim of his hat and shouldering a gun. In keeping with the characters’ proclivities the shotgun really belongs in the hands of the other man, Waxilium; however, its inclusion is an indication that this is a different sort of Mistborn book.
Calling it a Mistborn book is a bit of a misnomer, actually, as the only Mistborn mentioned are those of legend: the Survivor, the Ascendant Warrior, the Last Emperor, and the Lord Mistborn, who founded the new society some three centuries prior to the events of this book. Allomancy and Feruchemy are still prevalent, but the practitioners are granted a single ability, or, in the case of Twinborn individuals like Wax and Wayne, one of each. This opens new combinations of the abilities introduced in the first trilogy, and the emerging industrial setting provides a new arena for their use. Waxilium is able to Steelpush (Allomancy) and manipulate his weight (Feruchemy), which gives him great leaping abilities, although it’s Wayne (manipulate time and healing) who provides the book with levity (he could be a descendant of the noble Smedry line, for those who have read the Alcatraz series).
The Alloy of Law is not the beginning of the next Mistborn trilogy, which Sanderson has stated will be urban fantasy, but an intercessory story that bridges the two trilogies. As such it is a stand alone book, although the reader would be at a disadvantage without having read the first trilogy. It’s an entertaining inversion of the great caper that inspired the first Mistborn book, as theft once again becomes a engine of social change (the quarry is more than just lucky hats).