Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Elantris, A Review (Spoiler Free!)

After finishing the Mistborn trilogy, I had to have more Brandon Sanderson. And since I had a 40% off coupon for Borders, I went and bought up Elantris. This book was hailed by everyone and their brother, claiming it to be one of the best works of fantasy in a very long time. Needless to say, I was expecting great things, and Sanderson did not let me down.

Elantris has three POV characters: Daoden, the beloved prince of Arelon; Hrathen, a high ranking Derethi priest of a foreign religion; and Sarene, a headstrong princess of Teod. Elantris was the city of gods. It was beautiful, white and shiny, enormous. Normal people would wake up to find that they had been blessed and then they would go to Elantris, where their skin would shine, their hair would be white, and their powers would be limitless. Then, ten years ago, something happened, and the city of gods died, its once beautiful people becoming ugly, hairless savages. The city was closed off, the people scorned and restricted inside its walls. And the blessing would still come, only this time rendering its victims as corpses instead of gods. The people of Arelon then cast the victims into the dead city, never to see them again.

Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of the novel is the extensive religious system. Arelon and Teod are the last countries to resist the Derethi religion, instead staying true to their Korathi doctrine. Hrathen has been sent to convert Arelon in three months, and if he fails, the warrior Derethi religion will slaughter the nation. Not wanting the guilt on his mind, Hrathen piously tries to change the country, but he meets opposition from an unsuspecting source.

Finally, Princess Sarene is engaged to be married to Prince Raoden, their unity forming a treaty between Arelon and Teod. The two have never met. Sarene leaves her country a few days early to surprise Raoden, to get in some alone time before their wedding. However, when she arrives in Arelon, she finds that the prince is "dead." Headstrong and curious, she sets out to find the truth behind Raoden's disappearance.

Brandon Sanderson is a masterful storyteller. He knows his story and where he's going with it, even when the reader does not. He will bring things together and leave no unanswered questions. By the end of the novel, I was breathless. The way he brings things together is completely believable. The conclusion was perfect.

So, would I recommend Elantris to you? Absolutely. Not only is it an excellent novel from a great storyteller, it is a single, stand-alone work in the fantasy genre. That means that you don't have to wait for the sequels to come out. Unfortunately, it also means that there won't be any sequels... If you want to be entertained, thrilled, appalled, and intrigued, then I recommend this book to you. Although I enjoyed Mistborn more, this book was exceptionally well rounded, balancing story with word usage.


Krista said...

I enjoyed Mistborn a little more, too, but you have to remember this was his First novel and a master piece at that! Great summary, by the way - Have you thought of becoming a book reviewer!

Brandon said...

Logan, loved the review. Definitely makes me want to pick up Mistborn, since you think its his best.

logankstewart said...

@Krista: Indeed, an excellent first novel. And I've always wanted to be a professional critic, of books, music, and occasionally films.

@Brandon: Thanks for the comment, Brandon. You won't regret reading Mistborn.

Poison said...

Did you ever do a review for a Song of Ice and Fire? or J.V. Jones' Sword of Shadows?

logankstewart said...

Poison, I've not reviewed ASOIAF, but I've read and loved them all. I'll probably review A Dance With Dragons whenever that comes out, but I'm not looking for anytime soon.

Never heard of Sword of Shadows. Any good?

Poison said...

Oooh...Sword of Shadows is quite gritty. George R R Martin is a better writer than JV Jones, but she can definitely dish out a gritty tale of swords and guts and warring clans and mountain cities and whatever. You should read it - it's amazing.