Fiction Reviews

The Lost Metal

(2022) Brandon Sanderson, Gollancz, £14.99 trdpbk, xi + 507pp, ISBN 978-1-473-21527-6


For years, frontier lawman turned big-city senator Waxillium Ladrian has hunted the shadowy organisation the Set - with his late uncle and his sister among their leaders - since they started kidnapping people with the power of Allomancy in their bloodlines. When Detective Marasi Colms and her partner, Wayne, find stockpiled weapons bound for the Outer City of Bilming, this opens a new lead. Conflict between the capital, Elendel, and the Outer Cities only favours the Set, and their tendrils now reach to the Elendel Senate - whose corruption Wax and his wife, Steris, have sought to expose - and Bilming is even more entangled. After Wax discovers a new type of explosive that can unleash unprecedented destruction and realises that the Set must already have it, an immortal kandra serving Scadrial's god, Harmony, reveals that Bilming has fallen under the influence of another god: Trell, worshipped by the Set. And Trell is not the only factor at play from the larger Cosmere - Marasi is recruited by offworlders with strange abilities who claim their goal is to protect any cost. Wax must choose whether to set aside his rocky relationship with God and once again become the Sword that Harmony has groomed him to be. If no one steps forward to be the hero Scadrial needs, the planet and its millions of people will come to a sudden and calamitous ruin.

As the saying goes: “all good things must come to an end”, and just in case you weren’t sure this is the end, the very last line of The Lost Metal states: “The End of Era Two of Mistborn” so that is pretty final, for now, until the third Era starts.

In the meantime, a word to the wise, it probably isn’t a good idea to dive into this novel if you haven’t read the previous three books set in this second era which are The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, and The Bands of Mourning. I would even suggest that even if you have read them, it might be an idea to reacquaint yourself with these books as the first came out in 2011, and the last was published in 2016, a good seven years ago. Given Sanderson’s habit of writing weighty tomes, if you haven’t read any of the original Era One books – The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages – I wouldn’t bother, not unless you want to be lost in the Sanderverse for a while.

In this latest offering, between the covers of The Lost Metal we are treated to four pages of acknowledgements, four pages of maps – one of the Elendel Basin and the Northern Roughs, a two page map of the city of Elendel and a map of Basin and the Southern Continent. This is followed by a prologue, the story three parts, seven (yes, seven!) epilogues, and an Ars Arcanum – which is in three parts detailing metals and their powers, the different forms of Allomancy and information on the three metallic arts. Interspersed through the story we also have the pages of four broadsheets, complete with adverts.

As for the plot itself, in The Lost Metal, we join Waxillium Ladrian, or Wax, for short, no longer a lawman, but a crime-fighting senator in the city of Elendel, investigating an organisation known as the Set, as well as some disappearances. Soon he is joining forces with his old friend, Constable Wayne, and his partner Marasi as they investigate some weapons smuggling which may involve the Set, and even darker forces pulling the strings of the main protagonists to unleash a weapon of epic proportions.

What follows is the usual Sanderlanche of fast action, mystery, intrigue, great characterisation (with some characters stepping up to the plate and becoming more rounded in the process) matched with great world-building matched with great metallic magical systems, witty banter and a good dose of heartache and triumph. Oh, and let’s not forget a smattering of Cosmere crossovers and also a dollop of Indian mythology added into the mix. It also sets up quite nicely some things that are going to develop in the Third Era around science and technology, and possibly some off-world action, but that’s for the future. Right now we are saying goodbye to Era Two, and it has certainly been worth the wait of six years between books three and four. Sanderson is a pretty prolific writer and he has certainly been busy with other things in those six years, but perhaps he was biding his time to get things just right and I’d have to say that he has done just that. The Second Era is over, long live the Third Era, coming to a bookshop near you in 2025, probably.

Ian Hunter


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