Books I Read: Elantris

Title: Elantris
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2006
Content Rating: R for action violence

It used to be that men and women were transformed, seemingly randomly, into nigh-immortal, magical beings. When this happened, they and their families moved to Elantris, the city of the gods. Ten years ago, the magic died. Elantrians lost their power and beauty, becoming like the living dead--unable to heal, enduring pain and hunger so severe that most succumbed to insanity.

When Raoden, beloved prince of the kingdom, becomes one of the fallen Elantrians, his father covers it up, telling the kingdom he has died. Sarene, his bride from another land, arrives in her new home a widow. Meanwhile Hrathen, high priest of the enemy's religion, intends to convert the entire kingdom, because if he doesn't, his god will annihilate them all.

The book alternates between the viewpoints of the three main characters. I admit, I wasn't always interested in all three points of view (most of the time I found Raoden's the most interesting, though the political and religious tension were usually on Sarene and Hrathen's side). Also the novel felt like it started slow to me, but then it's epic fantasy. I understand Sanderson has a world he needs to reveal (and it wasn't infodump-slow, just slower than I wanted).

But by the end, I loved it. One of my favorite things about Sanderson (having read two of his worlds now) is how he reveals the complexities of his world through the story. Not by hiding things from the reader, but by revealing secrets as the characters figure them out. In both Elantris and Mistborn, the characters initially believe the world works a certain way. As they try to save their world, however, they discover there is much to it than they thought possible.

It's that aspect of Sanderson's fantasy that is starting to make him my new Orson Scott Card (no disrespect to Card--Ender's Game is still my favorite novel of all time). If you like fantasy, and you've already read the Mistborn trilogy, try this one out. You might like it.


jjdebenedictis said...

Oh, I didn't much like Elantris--but then I'm an impatient reader, so the slow pace tends to drive me battier than it does most.

It was a pretty cool world Sanderson built, however. I didn't always feel the characters were believable, but the city and politics were quite well imagined and certainly a fresh idea.

Adam Heine said...

Sometimes slowness bothers me, other times not. I know I give SF/F more grace than other genres :-)

Matthew MacNish said...

I don't mind a slow start at all, especially in Fantasy. This actually sounds very compelling to me, I may have to check it out.

Claudie A. said...

Ping! New author added to my TBR list. It's such a good thing I don't have the kindle within reach at the moment. ;)

I don't have a problem with a slow start, especially if I have a compelling character or world to stick to. Most of the time, the story is worth the wait.

Myrna Foster said...

I loved this one.

crazymixedupgirl said...

The other cool thing about Sanderson is that all his worlds are in the same universe (except the Alactraz series). They all have the character Hoid and somehow, they're all connected.

Adam Heine said...

Really? I had no idea. That's super cool!