Christmas is almost here, and I have a present that should warm you up! It is a review of one of my favorite reads of this past summer.
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 5 out of 5 decaying nobles
Sanderson tells us a tale of an ancient city of magic called Elantris. This city was home to powerful god-like beings. A mysterious force, known as the Shaod, was once responsible for turning normal humans into these Transformed beings. Once one was Transformed, they would move to Elantris to live the rest of their days in harmony and happiness. However, we soon learn that something went horribly wrong. Elantris began to crumble, its people began to decay, and the Shaod began to transform innocents into walking corpses. So begins the story of Elantris.
Elantris is broken up into alternating third person narratives that focus on three characters at the center of the story. The first is Raoden, a would-be heir to the throne, who was touched by the Shaod and forced to live in the slime-coated city of Elantris. The second is Sarene, the woman who would have been Raoden’s bride. Sarene never met Raoden, but feels it is her duty to get to the bottom of his odd disappearance. The third is Hrathen, a high priest sent by a religious superpower to convert the people of the land at any cost.
I want to first talk about the layout of the story. In a genre where a series of books is the norm (anywhere between three to seven books seems to be average), Elantris makes a bold statement: the story is told in only the one volume, in 615 pages. This is an amazing feat as Sanderson manages to tell an epic story in such a short space, indeed even more intriguing than other more lengthy books. This short length also makes the book extremely accessible to those who do not want to get bogged down in a long story.
Another great thing about Elantris is the unique world in which the characters live. There are no wizards or dragons or vampires. Even those touched by the Shaod are not exactly supernatural. Although they at first seem to resemble zombies, we quickly learn that this is not the case. They are not evil or malicious; their bodies have simply stopped living. In Elantris, plotting and subterfuge takes the forefront while magic and grand battles are put on the back burner. This allows Sanderson to build his characters upon their thoughts and feelings.
This brings me to my next point – Sanderson’s characters are some of the best written and most fully realized that I have read about in a long time. They are all tragically flawed in some way, and as you read through their tales, you begin to root for them – even the “bad guy”. Also, the way in which his three main characters interact with one another is genius!
Elantris combines conspiracy, discovery, love, and hope in a completely believable package that deserves a place on any fantasy lover’s bookshelf.
5 out of 5 decaying nobles!