Review: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Review: Elantris by Brandon SandersonTitle: Elantris
Author: Brandon Sanderson (Blog, Twitter)
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 638
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Format: Paperback
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"Elantris: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities to benefit all the people of Arelon. Yet each of these godlike beings had been an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Then, ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, feeble, leper-like creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling. The Shaod became a curse."

Arelon's new capital city, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris, which its people do their best to ignore. Princess Sarene of Teod has come to Kae for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping--based on their correspondence--also to find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died, and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. Sarene decides to make the best of a sad situation and use her position to oppose the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god. But, neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspects the truth about Prince Raoden's disappearance. Taken by the same strange malady that struck the fallen gods of Elantris, Raoden was secretly imprisoned within the dark city. His struggle to create a society for the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps even reveal the secret of Elantris itself. Summary from Back Cover

UBI’m so excited I’m finally done reading Elantris!  Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because it means I actually had the time to read it.  By this time last year, I had already finished reading 11 books.  Whereas, this year, I’ve only finished reading two books. But, homework takes priority.

I really enjoyed Elantris.  I thought Brandon Sanderson did a great job of not giving away too much too early.  I was constantly guessing and trying to figure out what was going to happen.  (It actually makes me excited to read the Mistborn trilogy because most of my friends have liked those books more.)

For most of the book, the point-of-view switches between three characters–Raoden, Sarene, and Hrathen.  I thought the change in point-of-view between these characters made the story very interesting.  I liked being able to see all aspects of the story, and at the same time still trying to put all the pieces together while the story unfolded.

From the very first page, I wanted to know what was going on. I wanted to know why Elantris, once the city of the gods, was now the city of the damned.  I wanted to know how Raoden’s, Sarene’s, and Hrathen’s stories would come together.

I love that Elantris is great as a stand-alone book.  However, I also love that enough was left unsaid for a possible sequel.

Personal Note

My English teacher taught Brandon Sanderson once upon a time.  The only reason I’m mentioning this is because of something my teacher said and something Brandon Sanderson wrote in his acknowledgments.

When my professor entered the classroom for our last class a couple of weeks ago, I was reading Elantris.  He asked me what I was reading, so I told him.  He rolled his eyes and told me that he knew all about Elantris, and that Brandon Sanderson was once a student of his.  He also told me that he didn’t understand this fascination with writing fantasy books, with making up different worlds.  It just didn’t make sense to him.

As I was reading the acknowledgments for Elantris, I came across the following about my teacher: “I’d also like to give special thanks to those teachers who have helped me in my university career. … [A]nd Professor Douglas Thayer, whom I’ll someday convince to read a fantasy book. (He’s getting a copy of this one, whether he wants it or not!)”

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Comments

  1. ouisa says

    What a funny story about your professor.
    “Fantasy” stories seem to annoy me too. It seems like they all have the same five components. It gets old. I’ve really enjoyed this swell of paranormal YA it seems like many of them have taken the fantasy story and the old mythologies that each one had and put some new spins on them all. I’m glad.

  2. says

    I haven’t read enough high fantasy novels to feel that way yet. All I know is that I want to leave this mundane world for something better for a little bit each day. ;) I do agree with you regarding the spin on the old mythologies and stuff like that. I think it’s a lot of fun.

  3. becky says

    I actually took a writing class from Brandon at BYU. Elantris was required reading for the class. It was a lot of fun to talk to him directly about the book. I also took a class from a professor of Brandon’s. He was also on the board for Brandon’s master thesis. It was a book called Dragon Slayer (never published). This professor said it was the longest thesis he has ever read and did not like doing it. I asked Brandon about the book and he said it was one of his early novels that was not that good. He said he wrote about 10 books before he got Elantris published. Just a little background for ya.

  4. says

    Becky – I would love to take a class from Brandon. Was it your creative writing class? Also, your teacher sounds a lot like my teacher.

    Ashley – Yeah, I laughed pretty hard when I read them, especially after having had my teacher. He’s so funny.

  5. ali says

    I have to say, Brandon Sanderson is a different kind of fantasy writer. Much less “go on the quest and slay the evil overlord” type (although Mistborn does have that element), more the “there’s something really screwy in our world, why” type. He doesn’t just have the Tolkien sort of fantasy going on (elves, dwarves, magic, etc). I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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