Elantris

Brandon Sanderson
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.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2017-12-07
Initial Impressions 4/12/16: 4.25 - 4.5 stars
Elantris was a lot of fun from start to finish! It's definitely a lot more politically motivated with less action and magical developments than Mistborn (my only full-length Cosmere experience so far, though my novella counts and YA Sandersons are numerous. Though I guess I've read six Mistborn books so that's no slouch! Wow this parenthesis went on way too long). It actually felt like a more similar tone to some of Sanderson's novellas than it did to Mistborn, I think because it was just not quite as dark and serious. (I mean, Mistborn still tickles my funny bone but you know what I mean.)
I'm glad I listened to the audio because 1. The narrate was great! (Jack Garrett) and 2. I wouldn't have pronounced half the names correctly. It was quite enjoyable all around!
Since I read Mistborn first, I did have that hunger for more world building and more magic system explanation. I'm still dying to know more about Seons and their origins and I totally hopped over to the Coppermind when I was done because I'm so obsessed with how the worlds connect.
As always, can't wait for more Sanderson! I'm totally bingeing again this year.

Full review as originally posted HERE on The Book Addict's Guide 4/29/16: Ever since I read MISTBORN a couple years ago, I’ve been obsessed with Brandon Sanderson’s writing. His books launched me into the world of adult fantasy when I had been reading nearly exclusively young adult and I’ve been on a mission ever since to gobble up the rest of his books. Every book I’ve read (and every novella) has been enjoyable and I simply cannot get enough. I took advantage of an Audible deal that had Brandon Sanderson audiobooks on sale so I picked up ELANTRIS and WARBREAKER (which I also hope to read soon) and decided to start with ELANTRIS since it was Sanderson’s first published novel and it’s a stand alone.

ELANTRIS was such a good, solid read. At times it felt a bit lengthy and I was anxious for things to get moving but that could also be because I was listening to the audiobook so it did take me significantly longer than if I was reading it in print. I was “warned” ahead of time that the beginning was a lot of set up and character development and the true action and twists didn’t occur until closer to the end so I was all right waiting for that. I also didn’t mind because the characters were just so enjoyable! Since it’s not as action packed as some of his later books, ELANTRIS is able to really dig into characters and let their personalities shine! Raoden was truly as personable as he was made out to be and I loved Sarene’s independence and strength. Each character really brought the book to life and it was so easy to connect with each and every one of them.

The concept of Elantris and its fall was incredibly interesting. For most of the book, no one really knows why the once godlike inhabitants of Elantris fell and why the Shaod continues to take people, turning them into the “creatures” that the cities fear and quarantine. The world-building and background surrounding these questions impressed me and as always, the big reveal was so satisfying. I was really hoping for a bit more history of the magic system because it was so interesting and complex and I’m always anxious to dig into why and how it works! There is an explanation but I’ve been spoiled with the details that Sanderson includes in subsequent books and so I was seeking so many more details about AonDor! I also hoped for a bit more of digging into the creation myths of the Cosmere but since it was Sanderson’s first published work, there was still so much more to come to play around with what this world was, what drove its magic, and how it connected within the Cosmere. I know ELANTRIS was a stand alone (well, it does have a short story but it’s more of a companion to the novel than a continuation) but I would love to learn so much more about this world! I immediately went digging into the Coppermind (the Wiki for Sanderson’s complete works — it’s incredibly detailed!) to get any more info that I possibly could! All it did was make me want another book detailing this planet’s history even more.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sanderson yet (since I’m finally writing a review for a book that’s not a sequel in a series), the Cosmere is Sanderson’s universe and most of his adult works take place on a different planet in the Cosmere. ELANTRIS is the first book set in the Cosmere and takes place on the planet Sel. Each Cosmere-set series is independent of the others but they all take place in the same universe and therefore share the same (incredibly detailed) history. I won’t get into it because a lot of this was explained with MISTBORN: A SECRET HISTORY, which is meant to be read after the 6th book in the Mistborn series and it could be a little spoilery to say more about the Cosmere since I only just discovered it this far into my Sanderson journey. I will say, though, that I’m constantly impressed with the world-building and I’m obsessed with books that are not series that connect. Sanderson is such a craftsman when it comes to connecting the Cosmere books and it may not always be in the most obvious way but when you make that connection, it’s so incredibly satisfying and it is such a delight to observe as a reader!

ELANTRIS was a book that really stuck with me and I keep thinking about it long after I’ve finished! It didn’t have quite as many historical details or action as some of the first Sanderson books I’ve read but I actually enjoyed that because it’s great to see how Brandon Sanderon’s writing style has changed, evolved, and can differ from story to story. I love that the books can feel so unique and yet still have a typical Sanderson feel that I can identify with. I can’t wait to continue my Cosmere binge later on this year!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible during a sale
Narrator: Jack Garrett
Performance: More books narrated by Jack Garrett, please!

I’m always iffy trying out a narrator that I haven’t listened to before, especially with a favorite author AND an audiobook that’s literally 28.5 hours long. That’s over a full day of my life listening to one person’s voice so it gets intimidating to pick someone new! I’m really glad that I not only liked Jack Garrett but ended up loving him! His narration really embodied each character and each person had their own unique voice. I’m always so impressed with how many different voices a voice actor can do and with a detailed cast of characters, Jack Garrett had no issue making each voice quite unique. His female voices were softer and more feminine but not over the top. Accents were well placed and the general performance of everything was just top notch. I don’t know what other books he’s narrated but I will definitely be seeking out more!
Reviewed: 2016-12-15
Starts slow, then loses its way completely in the middle, then wraps up in a fury of deus ex machina and ludicrous plotlines. The sole saving grace is a decent female PoV character - still a rarity in Fantasy.
Reviewed: 2016-06-24
I wish that this was my first Brandon Sanderson book, rather than my fifth. I did really enjoy it, but I just can't help but compare it to his later stories, and there are times when Elantris just fell a little short in the comparison.

But that's not really fair, honestly, because as a first novel, this was great. Of course Sanderson's writing would improve, and may it continue for the rest of time, but considering where he started, it's mighty damn impressive.

We've got a whole world here, nay, two whole worlds. Elantris, and Opelon. That one resides within the other, much like the Vatican in Rome, is irrelevant. They couldn't be more different. Elantris is a dead place, and those who find themselves almost-but-not-quite-dead are outcast there, to starve and suffer and eventually lose their minds from pain. The people outside of Elantris fear and hate it, but mainly just go on about their lives trying to ignore it completely. That is, until the Biggest, Baddest Religion comes knocking and the Conversion begins. Things get all interesting then.

This did feel like a first novel, but still Sanderson is an incredible author. My complaints about this one are pretty small, except one major one, and as I've read his later books, I feel that it's only in comparison that I even noticed them to complain at all. Like the fact that everyone's names are created around an aon, and the aon represents a feature or quality, not necessarily in the person, but in general. So how then do they not put together the aon "Rao" (which means spirit), with the real name of the person who goes by Spirit, Raoden? It seemed rather obvious to me, and I only just met this world!

I did really enjoy the characters, Sarene especially. She was independent, clever and daring and pulls no punches. I will give Sanderson huge props, his books are full of awesome female characters.

I loved Raoden, and Galladon, and Karata, and Hrathen. I thought they were all interesting and compelling characters that I wanted to read more about.

Maybe Sanderson will write more books in this world, and in fact I hope he does, because I feel like his major conflict was never really resolved here. I guess it's implied, perhaps, but I want definites. I don't see someone as power-hungry as Wyrn just taking his ball and going home. I see a full out war... and so I hope that that comes to pass one day. Otherwise, the ending seems like a sugar-coated cop-out... as much as it pains me to say it.

I still love you though, Brandon! When (not if, but when - I'm being optimistic!) you write Elantris II, Brandon, I know it will rock my socks off. And while we're on the subject of new books... The Way of Kings #2? Hurry? Pretty please?


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