Friday, November 28, 2008

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (Review)

Mulluane | Friday, November 28, 2008 | 3 Comments so far
A Fantasy Book Review

Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Epic Fantasy, Standalone
ISBN-10: 0765350378
Publisher: Tor Fantasy (May 30, 2006)
Mass Market Paperback: 656 pages
Sample Chapters
Publisher's Blurb:
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (Review)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.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful city named Elantris. The walls of Elantris glowed with a silver light, as did its benevolent residents. The Shaod could strike anyone at any time, turning them into demi-gods with unlimited beauty, life, and power. These newly formed mages used their power to benefit humanity; no one had to be hungry or sick in the country of Arelon. Nevertheless, that was in the past. Now the Sheod creates monsters, zombies who suffer endlessly, never heal, never die except from decapitation or fire. Elantris itself, once the most beautiful capital in the world is now a prison, its walls crumbling, everything covered in thick black slime.

This is the setting for Brandon Sanderson's debut novel Elantris, a rare standalone epic fantasy. There are three major players in this drama. Raoden, prince and heir, turned zombie in the prime of his life. Sarene, princess, and betrothed, who, upon arriving for her wedding in the new capital of Kae, discovers that she is a widow. Hrathen, priest of a jealous god. A god who is determined to rule over all lands and supplant any other religion.

Honestly, I am not sure which is better, the characters, the world building, or the unique magic system, they are all delightful. Raoden does not rail against his fate, but decides to make the best of his situation, improve his new world, and discover the cause of the failure of Elantris. Serene is hardheaded, proud, smart, and witty. She too decides to make the best of a bad situation, and she can play one heck of a political game. Hrathen may be the most complicated character of them all, a man whose task it is to convert an entire population to his god's religion, and he has only three months to do so. What makes Hrathen such an enigma is that he is determined to do this without the bloodshed of previous takeovers, so he employs logic and politic acumen instead. In an unusual way, all three players are working towards the same goal, the salvation of the residents of Arleon, but all have different ideas as to how this should be accomplished.

The entire story takes place over a two-month period and yet reads like a novel that covers years. The pace is as smooth as silk, the type of book you read in one setting, even if that means staying up until dawn. The main characters are well fleshed out, as are the secondary characters. The cast is large without being so large that you cannot keep track of each personality easily. The world comes alive with believable economic, religious, and governmental systems and the complicated magic system, which is not really covered in detail until later in the book, is unique and well crafted. Elantris even has a satisfying ending, yet there are things that I would love to see more in-depth stories about, like the Seons. (Nope, not telling you what they are, you have to read the book!)

This is a must have addition to any fantasy bookshelf and a clear indication of why Brandon Sanderson was chosen to finish WoT. I look forward to reviewing more of his books in the future.

Ratings, Reviews, Similar Reads, Buy Books, Affiliate Links

Kindle: No

Ebook: No


Buy Book: B&N - Powells

Amazon: US ~ Canada ~ UK

Read an Interview with Brandon Sanderson From: A Dribble of Ink - Fantasy Book Critic
Listen to an original song based on Elantris Sci-Fi Song #5: Sarene: inspired by Elantris
Other Reviews: Fantasy Cafe - The Book Swede - Fantasy Book News & Reviews
Author's Web Presence Website, Main Blog, Forum, Myspace, Facebook, Livejournal, Blogger

Already read the book? Please share your own opinion in the comments below!

Fantasy Book Review of
Reviewed by Mulluane on Date
Rating: 5 of 5

Mulluane is a 55-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

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Dragons, Heroes and Wizards


  1. Oops! That comment was supposed to go on the review on your other blog. {blush}

    I like this review, too, but I've never read this book, and don't think we have it. I like the sound of it enough, I'm trying to figure out which of the three fantasy fans in the family would most like to get this book, since we often don't like the same things. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  2. No problem, I took care of it.

    I'm not sure what to tell you, Elantris is refreshing, different and compelling. It has a dark undertone but isn't oppressive and enough originality to defy classification. Romance without sex, but a healthy dose of violence. Afraid you might have to buy a copy and pass it around!

  3. Thanks. {Smile}

    That makes it sound like more Dad's and my kind of nolvel than Mom's, then. {Smile} She's really not fond of violence. She'll put up with some, but she's got the lowest threshold. Dad and I can handle more of it. {Smile}

    We're always passing around novels. It's hard to find a series all three love, but we often find ones two out of three enjoy. {SMILE}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin


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