Sunday, May 21, 2017

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Written by Brandon Sanderson
Published by Tor Fantasy
638 pages (paperback version)

Elantris is the first book written by Brandon Sanderson. In paperback at least, it's a weighty tome clocking in at over six hundred pages. Took me a little while to digest it.

The concept is a solid one. Elantris, the 'city of the gods', has fallen. Those who once did magic that could heal wounds and create light and energy for their people lost their abilities overnight and they were quickly slain.

This did not stop the 'gifting' of Elantris, where people outside the city would once become like those of Elantris, powerful and silvery skinned, but now, their bodies 'die' and they are cast into Elantris which is more akin to the city of Dis, a city of the damned.

The back cover brings us three main characters:

Raoden: He's the prince of the city outside Elantris proper. He works against his father's ways. In ma ways, Raoden is far too modern for the times he finds himself living in. One thing I appreciate about Raoden, is that he's an optimist. He's always searching for answers. He's always looking for the biggest reasons why. He's always trying to minimize violence and harm to others.

It's a refreshing chance of corse. In many tales, the hero is so grim, so gritty, that at times, I would love to see him killed off just so that someone more interesting can replace him. Being a bitter washed up old hero is played out.

Hrathen is a high priest of the country of Fjordell. He's been sent to Raoden's country of Arelon to convert the people. That didn't work out too well for the last country Hrathen converted. Turns out that when you turn the common folks against their rulers, a massacre when thousands, if not tens of thousands of people can happen.

I was pleasantly surprised by Hrathen several times. While he plays the 'villain' of the piece to a point, he's much more complex than merely a ranting religious figure that all the woes of humanity can be tied onto.

He's clever. He appreciates those who share this trait. He's not a devout fanatic and is even brought to the point where he has to consciously question his faith and how that faith interacts with the organized religion. In these things, Sanderson doesn't' paint any one character with too broad a brush save perhaps the actual zealots, but I found Hrathen very entertaining and interesting in his own right.

Sarene is another character born out of time. A tall woman whose height intimidates some, her willingness to wade deep into political matters that in Arelon at least, were only considered things for men to discuss.

She brings swordplay to the ladies of the court as a hobby to the women. She runs an alliance against the actual king of Arelon. She is a princess of Teod and now of Arelon and she is not to be ignored.

As a done in one novel, Sanderson brings the main body of the story to a close, but he leaves a lot of events open-ended. Looking at the book, I see there is now The Emperor's Soul, book 2 in the Elantris series.

When I get my reading queue a little more organized, it's one I'm going to have to check out. I enjoyed Mistborn. I found the ending of that series to be a neat switch on the whole 'one of prophecy bit' and I find that Elantris also does a good job of moving some of the troupes around.

Brandon's enjoyment of making magic systems with their own rules and rituals is clear in the series. His ability to work events and tie in different elements is solid. Stories from the start of the book come to have a greater impact towards the end. He's truly a believer of the whole gun from the first chapter getting used in later chapters.

If you're a fan of fantasy novels, especially high fantasy novels, Elantris is a solid read.