Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
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Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.
Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also 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. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.
But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.
A rare epic fantasy that doesn’t recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It’s also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.
What I thought
Let me start by saying that I put off reading this book for far too long. Elantris is a book that has appealed to me for years, and it has sat on my shelf staring me down. Why did I not pick this up sooner? Well right after I purchased it I started seeing a lot of people saying how bad the book was. And sadly I let that get to me.
Why did I decide to finally pick this book up? I saw Brandon talking about this book on one of his live streams and it made me really want to give it a try. He was not promoting it just talking about it in general. What I didn’t realize before was that this was his debut novel. Yes, that makes a big difference: you can not read an author for years then go back to their first published book and expect it to be at the same level that they are publishing at now.
I went into this book unsure how I was going to feel about it, and I was blown away. I loved it! Brandon has a way that just pulls you into the story. I love how the story has a history including a religion. It makes the story feel more substantial. A number of the characters defy stereotypes within the world and I found that to be refreshing. He pushed the bounds of the society’s beliefs with his characters and that had a deeper meaning that is very relevant today. Sarene is strong and witty and she encourages the other women in the court to embrace being strong and smart. This book does so many things right that I just don’t usually see in Adult Fantasy books.
If this book is just sitting on your shelf I encourage you to pick it up now!
My Rating: /5