Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson is a giant of Fantasy Fiction. Having read The Final Empire around a year ago, I know I liked his writing and, just like everyone, was wowed by his inventive and extremely clever magic systems (there is a reason everyone talks about them, they’re amazing).
So when Benedict (@BensBlurb on Twitter, check him out) launched the Cosmere Conquest for 2021 – a read through of Brandon’s Cosmere Universe books – I was ready and confident enough that I liked his writing to take part in my first EVER readathon!
I’m having a lot of fun so far, if you’d like to take part, take a look at the original post here, there’s even a discord group to chat about the books!
We’ve kicked January off with Elantris, a standalone book in the Cosmere series but widely considered to be the best starting place…for a reason I don’t think I know yet!
Elantris was once a powerful city with magical and etheral beings as it’s inhabitants, but is now considered cursed. Since the fall of Elantris the Shoad (a mysteries power with physcial effects on random people, regardless of status or rank) has been sweeping the nation – then it takes the crown prince of Kae, a neighbouring city. Meanwhile a priest arrives in Kae tasked with converting the entire population of Arelon to a new religion, with only a new princess in his way. Elantris has an important part to play in this religious war.
I really enjoyed Elantris. I think you can tell that it’s Sanderson’s debut – it doesn’t feel as well paced as his other writing, but this is still nonetheless brilliant. I loved the magic system (no spoilers) which as always felt brilliantly original and different, and was one of the things that kept me reading. I enjoyed the contrasts in the way each character lived and made their way through the book and have to say that some characters really surprised me.
Raoden’s chapters were my favourite, but I found Sarene to be delightful as well, and greatly enjoyed the way both of them were written – I actually forgot that they’re both royalty most of the time. Hrathen’s chapters for me were a little bit dry, and the reason I gave the book 4 stars is because had I known that the book was quite so steeped in religion I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. I have to say though, I ended up liking Hrathen’s moral compass and his role in the book. There were a few things that went unexplained – though I admit this may happen in later books – but that if they don’t I’ll be a little disappointed.
I found the familial elements for each of the characters interesting, especially interactions with secondary characters and the relationships they built with other people or had already established were something that stood out to me during my read through.
I’m incredibly glad I carried on, I persevered and was slowly pulled into the universe Sanderson has started to create, and I’m really excited to see how the later books tie in with this one. Overall, Elantris felt a little disjointed but was engaging and is definitely worth persevering with as it is a great fantasy book with the beginnings of a fascinating universe within its pages.
Sanderson writes extremely well, it’s easy to see why his books are so popular – you never feel like there is too much of anything in the things he writes, it’s all so well rounded, and you can really focus on taking the story in without stumbling around clumsy sentences and the like. I’m looking forwarding to reading more of his work.
Have you read Elantris? Are you taking part in the Cosmere Conquest? Let me know!