ELANTRIS was beautiful, once. It was called the city of the gods: a place of power, radiance, and magic. Visitors say that the very stones glowed with an inner light, and that the city contained wondrous arcane marvels.
Yet, as magnificent as Elantris had been, its inhabitants had been more so. Legend claimed that they were immortal, their bodies healed quickly, and they were blessed with great strength, insight and speed. They were divinities and anyone could become one.
Long ago I decided I would read anything by Brandon Sanderson, so I bought this book without really knowing what it was about. I didn’t build any expectations, I knew it would be good, but it turned out to be even better. I haven’t been obsessed with book this much since I marathoned The Raven Cycle back in April.
For a standalone Fantasy novel this was incredibly satisfying, yet Sanderson creates a world that has so much more to offer and I can’t wait to read more of this world and magic system in the future. (I don’t care how much it would take him, I’ll wait patiently).
It was a compelling read since page one, I needed to know what would happen next. I read the 10th anniversary edition, so I asume he probably went back and fix a few things writing wise or maybe not, I don’t know. But for me the writing was amazing and oddly beautiful for a Sanderson book. It’s not flowery, but the way it was written made it so easy to not only imagine the world, but also to relate and care for the characters (in less than 600 pages). This takes me to the next point, this is a pretty much character driven story, there is of course a well structured plot, that was both compelling and very interesting. The things you expect from Brandon Sanderson, great world building and original magic system, are beautifully executed in this book, but don’t expect it to be as complicated and detailed as it is in his other series.
We are first introduced to Raoden, Prince of Arelon, and soon he discovers he’s been turned into an elantrian, but he’s far from being or looking like a god. No, ten years early something happened to the Dor and the Shaod now transform people into something else, more zombie-ish. After this, Raoden is quickly thrown into the city of Elantris and that’s when the fun begins. Through him, we discovered what happened to the city and it’s population, as well as the magic or lack of it. We also get to meet other great characters, specially his new “buddy” Galladon, who is absolutely fantastic and one of my favourite characters. The dialogue between these two was fun and entertaining, they didn’t always trust each other, but they didn’t have any other choice. You could always hoped for Galladon’s sarcastic comments and pessimism, it was amazing how they complemented each other.
Sanderson always creates amazing characters, but even more interesting, intelligent and strong female leads, and in this novel he gave us Sarene. She was fascinating and reading from her point of view was delightful. She was manipulative and smart, but also sweet and caring, it was easy to fall in love with her. She wasn’t perfect, she doubted herself and even allowed herself to worry about more mundane things like marriage and romantic relationships. Of course, they had a nation to save, but personal struggles and frivolities must be allowed, too.
This novel has quite a lot of characters, but I’ll talk briefly about the “antagonists” Hrathen and a few crazy priests. Religion and Politics are some of the themes you’ll always find in Sanderson’s books. I am not a religious nor even spiritual person, but I like intelligent and deep discussions about it, and that’s exactly what I’ve got in this novel. Hrathen was such a complex character, he believed in the doctrine taught by his religion, but he also struggled with it. He had a job to do, but he wanted to do what was right according to his logic and morals. He also was manipulative and I lived for the chapters were he appeared with Sarene, I wish there were more of those.
I need to talk about the seons, they were described as spheres of light, they were pure energy and magic, it’s never told their origin or anything about their history. No one new much about them, but they were remarkable creatures and they usually served as human companions. Ashe was Sarene’s seon and it was adorable. The seon behave like a human, but it was a lot more evolved, for lack of a better word, it didn’t have any prejudices nor selfish ambitions. I really wanted to know more about them.
There are so many things I want to discuss, but this is already too long. There was a lot of political intrigue and scheming and it was so, so good. Not much magic action sequences at the beginning, but closer to the end things escalated really fast and it was quite enjoyable.
I have nothing negative to say about this, but there were a couple of things that would usually bother me in any other novel and I think it’s still valid for me to point them out, but in this book I didn’t mind them.
All the events in this novel happened in the lapse of two or three months, and a lot of major life changing events happened. But again, the way he wrote this book nothing felt rushed. The relationship between Sarene and Raoden could feel a bit insta-lovey, but not really. At the start of the book they had previously interacted, though they’d never met in person, their marriage would have been for political purposes. What I liked about their relationship is that we were able to know and love them separately first, so when they finally reunited I just wanted them together already. There wasn’t a lot of diversity or representation, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any and I think they were vital characters for the story not just plot devices. I wish there were more female leads or at least more time spend with secondary female characters, Sarene was a bit judgemental at times, but that didn’t bother me, she was flawed and that made for a multidimensional character as well as more room for her to grow.
In the end, I can’t recommend this enough. I think this has elements a lot of people would enjoy, specially if you’re new to Adult Fantasy or you want a place to start with Brandon Sanderson.
This book made me so happy. I hope you give this book a chance or if you have read it please let me know what you thought of the book.
🙂 Thanks for reading!