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Four Stars: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

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!

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson Goodreads | Amazon
Title:
Elantris
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!

Strengths:

  • 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!

Weaknesses:

  • 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 :).

Summary:
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….

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Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings – A

 

 Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

© 2012 – 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. I’ve recently discovered Sanderson through his shorter fiction, and even though it sounds like Elantris isn’t his best work, it sounds like something I’d really enjoy. thanks for posting the review of it! :)

    • Yeah, though it’s funny since “Sanderson’s not best work” still blows my mind and makes me stay up late to finish it, haha! I also was super intimidated by how long it was at first, but found that I got through it super fast :D

  2. This sounds very good! I have been wanting to read Mistborn for a quite a while, but I don’t think Elantris is on my goodreads tbr (until now). The city of the gods premise definitely sounds unique, which is extremely rare in “epic”-type fantasy nowadays. (It’s not that I mind some tropes now and then, but it is so cool to see such drastically different ideas.) Thanks for the review and the recommendation.

    • That is something that Sanderson always does amazing, every premise of his that I’ve read is completely unique! He also has some really awesome meta-verse stuff going on, so the more of his stuff you read, the more you realize they actually all relate to each other :D

  3. Added to my wishlist! The plot sounded intriguing from the summary but this is what won me over: “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 :).” I LOVE smart women characters who are strong and can hold their own.

    The magic sounds cool too. Being a writer myself I’m always curious how other writers handle it. So tricky to write just right!

    And the blurb from Orson Scott Card on the cover might have helped just a teensy bit in winning me over further. Loved his Ender’s Game series, though I still need to start/finish the Shadow side of it all.

    Great review! :]

    • :D Thanks! If you like strong women, then these are the authors you need to read: the rest of Sanderson’s books and Jim C. Hines! They both pretty much always have a strong and smart female in them (or multiple for Hines’ Princess books :D).

      Also, Sanderson bases pretty much all of his books on a cool new idea for a magic system, have you heard of his Mistborn series??

      • I’ll definitely be checking out Jim C. Hines. I have tons of Sanderson’s books on my wishlist now, thanks to you. Including the Mistborn trilogy. Nothing gets me more eager for a book then listening/reading a fan rave about it.

        • Oh, you totally just made my night :D So often people in the real world just look at me funny when I tell them how awesome a book is, ya know? xD

          • Yes! Totally happy to. [Make your night that is.] As for the funny looks…Oh trust me, I know. I get them all the time. When I like a book, really really like it, I just have to gush and fangirl. And then people slowly back away. xD

Trackbacks

  1. […] Elantris – Yes yes yes, nothing by Sanderson could really be considered underrated, HOWEVER, I think this is the least loved of his books and it makes me sad. Elantris is currently my favorite Sanderson book because the world and magic are so flipping cool. These godlike-humanoids started dying ten years ago and now people randomly wake up with a horrible living-death plague instead of waking up with godlike powers and inside the old city of the gods our heroes have to figure out what is going on while in this living-death plague state! Plus magic with glowing things and spheres >.>. […]

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    […] novels tend to have the most amazing magical systems (check out my discussion of Warbreaker and Elantris for […]

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