An epic fantasy with a fresh take on god-like powers, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson tells the story of Sarene, a princess from a foreign land; Raodin, her deceased husband (whom she never met, and might not be very dead); and Hrathen, a priest of the church trying to take over Kae.
I’m a huge fan of Sanderson, as anyone who talks to me about fantasy books would know in the first few minutes >.>. I might fangirl a bit okay! But I hadn’t had a chance to read Sanderson’s debut novel, Elantris, yet. While it has a couple of slip-ups that betray its early nature, Elantris is still a wonderful and fresh fantasy story that further adds to Sanderson’s amazing multi-verse!
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Author: Brandon Sanderson
Pages: 487 (hardcover)
Genre-ish: Epic fantasy!
Rating: ★★★★☆ - wonderful, few slip-ups
Setting: The fantasy city of Kae, which happens to be one of four cities around the city of Elantris, former home of the gods. Up until ten years ago, people would randomly wake up one morning with silvery skin, white flowing hair and magical abilities, now they wake up with mottled, drying skin, no hair, and no hope.
Premise: Sarene is a princess from a neighboring island, Teod, and has agreed to a political marriage with the Kae prince. However, when she steps off the boat, she finds that her prince has died, the marriage pact is binding upon death, and she is now a widow. Raodin, her prince, is having an equally bad day, since he didn’t actually die. He turned into an Elantrian, and is now prisoner in a wretched city, apparently unable to die or heal from his torturous wounds. Hrathen, however, is having a wonderful day, since he has just arrived at Kae to convert its nobility to a far off religion, thereby saving its people from an otherwise bloody conquest by said religion. Things are going to get interesting in Kae!
- As is immediately obvious by the premise, Elantris has a fantasy premise that you’ve never seen before. The city of the gods has only recently fallen, and no one really knows why. Fortunately, both Sarene and Raodin are not ones to sit idly on their hands ;-).
- Sarene is amazing! Sanderson often has strong women, but Sarene is my favorite so far. She is smart and cunning, but that has ended up distancing her from others in her life. It’s a wonderful statement about the troubles that strong and smart women often run into, and makes Raodin’s love of her all the more awesome :).
- The magic of Elantris is so cool! I don’t think I’d be any good at drawing symbols perfectly in the air to cast magic, but it’s still so cool!
- You can tell Elantris is an early work by Sanderson, since the dominoes just don’t line up and tip over quite right. There are several things that just don’t get resolved in the end, but felt like they were going to be involved in a clever twist in the plot. This ends up making Elantris feel less like a standalone, since I want there to be another book to understand wtf is up with the Seons??
- Typos :(. I’m always surprised when there are typos in a traditionally published book, and for some reason Elantris just has trouble remembering to put t’s at the end of though to make it thought….
- Some of the names of things were strangely similar, which isn’t flat out a bad thing, but it honestly makes it rather confusing to keep all the characters straight when they are being referred to 200 pages later….
- Elantris was rather depressing for the first 100 pages or so. A lot of bad stuff happens right away, and it’s hard to be convinced that the prince being thrown into Hell on, well, Opelon, is going to get better. It is though, it gets much much better :).
I had a hard time with the start of Elantris, simply because I don’t need depressing things in life right now ;-). But once I got to the positive, yey everyone pitch in and work part, it got much better! I was a little disappointed in how the dominoes tipped, since they just weren’t quite as cunning and later work by Sanderson, but Elantris is still a fresh and imaginative world. Elantris is also the sort of book that I would love to visit after the scary plot is done :). I really think that Sanderson has plans for another Opelon book in the future, just because there are too many strings left at the end of Elantris….