Elantris

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

There were mixed feelings behind my reading of Elantris. If you’ve seen any of my posts, then you know by now that I have loved every Sanderson book that I’ve ever read… but this one did not grip me in the same way. Part of this could be contributed to how I have been reading his works in a backwards order, as one of the things that irked me early on was how some of the characters in Elantris appear to be so similar to other characters in Sanderson’s later works. I see the same character traits used in what feels like every female/male protagonist. Not that those traits bother me that much, it just messes up my inner picture of that character by mixing two together. I started reading this during the past summer, and have only just finished it in November. It look much longer for me than usual to get a novel, but I finished strong with the graphic audio version of this book.

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This is the first graphic audio audiobook that I’ve tried (That I got from the humble bundle a while back) and it was super cool! I enjoyed the full cast and sound effects that comes with the “movie in your mind” version of audiobooks. I’m looking at checking out some of the other Sanderson ones that they have. (This sounds like an ad for them at this point…)

Magic systems are something that I’ve never seen Sanderson fail at, and his works can usually be defined by the magic system that accompinies the story. The magic system in Elantris feels as though it could have more depth in the beginning, but the mystery behind it shows more than what appears at first glance. As the story progresses some of the mystery gets revealed, little by little, in a satisfying way. Once you get to the end you learn just how expansive the magic system is, and how it is interconnected with the story’s universe. You can see just how many Aons Raoden was practicing, and you know that there must be an Aon for everything.

The other thing that Sanderson is always know for, is the last 10% of his novels. Evey ending is always so satifisying and fast paced so it brings you immediate closure and more. If it was a bit of a struggle getting through the first 40%, that last sprint always makes up for it. The best bit is that he wraps everything up, but still leaves even more mystery right at the end. You want keep going as soon as it finishes. That’s the magic that reading hooks me with – wanting to stay in the world and the bittersweet feel of completition.

If you like Sanderson/Fantasy, I would check this out. The start feels slow to me, but the journey is worth it. Shoutout to Hrathen for being an interesting character with plenty of depth as well!

Do not dash if you only have the strength to walk, and do not waste your time pushing on the walls that will not give. More importantly, don’t shove where a pat would be sufficient. 

Buy the book here! – Elantris

26 thoughts on “Elantris

  1. Nice review this , Elantris has been on my TBR for a while and I definitely don’t mind a slow begining if it all pays off by the end . Might read this after I finish the Malazan book of fallen series 🙂

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  2. I read “The Rithmatist” and it was an excellent, excellent book. This shall go on my TBR though it will probably be a long time until I can read it. Wonderful book review.

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  3. This was the first book I read by Sanderson and it hooked me on his writing. I’m a fan of magic systems and he’s a master. But I agree that his work improved (like author’s books tend to) over time. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the late introduction of the monsters. I didn’t think the book needed it. Great review. 🙂

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  4. Interesting. I had similar reactions to this title. I haven’t read all of his works, but I’ve read the Mistborn trilogy, and Emperor’s Soul. Elantris definitely felt, I hesitate to say underdeveloped, but almost like a draft that he might continue to refine. I never recognized it, but having read your review I agree that he often saves a lot of strength for the last leg of the story, and there often are those “11th hour” revelations that still keep things fresh. In fact, those are two techniques that more authors would benefit from. I think that might be worth a blog post or two.
    Thank you for sharing. You’ve given me the chance to look at Elantris with fresh eyes.

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  5. Definitely sounds like an interesting read. I’ll have to put it on my “want to read” shelf on Goodreads. The last time I read one of Sanderson’s books was the Mistborn series which I satisfyingly enjoyed…I should pick it up again!!

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    1. Hey Andrew, I see a lot of people recommend starting with the original Mistborn trilogy. (Starting at The Final Empire) I started with the Stormlight Archive series (The Way of Kings being the first in the series), and I was immediately hooked! I would look each of them up and see what appeals to you more.

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  6. This is on my TBR stack. I recently finished Mistborn and loved it, so I’m anxious to finish the rest of that series. And I finally finished The Wheel of Time series, which Sanderson finished when Robert Jordan passed away. Suffice it to say, I like what I’ve read so far.

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      1. Chaz, how did I miss your comment?! Wheel of Time, overall, was a fabulous read. I dedicated three decades of my life to finishing the dang thing! There were parts where it dragged, sure, and parts where I thought a little judicious editing might have helped, but it’s a massive series. By and large, I thought it was time well spent. And the portions written by Brandon Sanderson fit nicely with what Jordan wrote. I didn’t feel like there were a lot of places where I thought, wow, that’s a really different style and doesn’t seem to flow. And at the end, I felt like I was saying goodbye to old friends.

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  7. Hi Chaz, I love to read and this book intrigued me. Unfortunately much of my time is taken with writing two books that are calling to me to finish. I want to learn how to format for Smashwords too. Just aren’t enough hours in a day. I also love netfilx, and when I have time, binge watch series. The last one was Good Witch. It was nice with no scary stuff, but they left if at 2 seasons. Thanks for the info.

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  8. Elantris was my first intro to Brandon Sanderson (after his MiddleGrade stuff – Alcatraz books), and I loved it. But so far, the Storm light Archives are my favorite. Can’t wait to read book 3.
    Thank you for your review, well done and keep up the good work!
    -jb at filthfreeforfamily.com

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  9. Elantris is actually the only Brandon Sanderson novel that I’ve read, so I had a pretty different reaction! I’ll have to try out some more of his books and see if it changes my mind!

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  10. I am almost done with this book and I agree with you about the pacing and character similarities. I enjoyed the first book in his Mistborn series and I thought some of those character’s personalities were cloned in Elantris as well. But despite all that, Brandon Sanderson is an excellent world builder and has kept me entertained thus far! Looking forward to finishing this one up!

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