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.
Other Tor books by Brandon Sanderson
The Stormlight Archive
The Way of Kings
Words of Radiance
The Mistborn trilogy
Mistborn: The Final Empire
The Well of Ascension
The Hero of Ages
Mistborn: The Wax and Wayne series
Alloy of Law
Shadows of Self
Bands of Mourning
Other Cosmere novels
The Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series
Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians
The Scrivener's Bones
The Knights of Crystallia
The Shattered Lens
The Dark Talent
The Rithmatist series
Other books by Brandon Sanderson
- ISBN10 0765311771
- ISBN13 9780765311771
- Publish Date 1 May 2005
- Publish Status Out of Stock
- Publish Country US
- Imprint Tor Books
- Format Hardcover
- Pages 492
- Language English
It did not take me two weeks to read Elantris. Though I started it and wasn't interested in anything happening by the end of the first chapter so I put it down for a while. I mean, there was a prince so I figured it would get interesting. And there's a girl on the cover so I assumed she'd show up at some point. But the first chapter is all grimy and violent and depressing. Which, is kind of the point, I get. But not fun to read.
Eventually, though, I came back to it and read the second chapter which was much more interesting than the first. And by then the particular Brandon Sanderson way of making you want to see what happens next kicked in and I read Elantris, truly, in like two days.
Brandon Sanderson is good so I enjoyed it. I liked Roadan and Sarene a lot. I liked the secondary characters a good deal as well. I couldn't stand Dilaf, like from the first glimpse despised him and every time he showed up on the page. But, again, I kinda think that was the point. I liked Hrathen more when he was opposing Dilaf and liked him less when it seemed Dilaf was getting the better of him.
The end wasn't really much of a surprise. How it played out was unexpected but I don't think you write a story telling us so much of who the Elantrians used to be without eventually making the half formed versions into the whole. The good part is that I enjoyed the rest of the book enough that by the time I got to the end that wasn't what I was reading for anymore.
I found it interesting how similar certain things were to The Final Empire. Dilaf's use of Dor and the partially metal parts to him were a lot like the Steel Inquisitors. And the theme of the gods and the rewritten history was a little similar. And the seons were a lot like the gloopy creatures that can change shape and live to serve people. Which makes sense because he was writing them sort of in parallel and because they're in the same universe. But I had to keep reminding myself that they're in the same universe when I stumbled on a similarity because it felt a little too the same, but also a little not. It was very subtle.
The thing is, as well written as Elantris is, I didn't love it. There were no parts I wanted to quote or characters I adored or moments that got me especially excited. I might have almost cried at one moment at the end a little, but I'm not being facetious--I honestly can't remember and it was last night. Sanderson's books are always good and always well written but I haven't read one yet that I love or that I need to read again.
It's meant to get a sequel in the distant, distant future too isn't it? I look forward to that.
Mistborn, here I come!
Actual rating: 3.5 stars
Review to follow soon.
For a debut novel, Elantris was a damn good book. But still, I can't help comparing it to the author's other works.
In this world, Elantris was once a place of magic and awesomeness, but something happened that caused the city to lose its magic, as did the citizens who resided there. There is this whole mystery of what exactly happened to Elantris that is a prominent plot point throughout the book. How could anything destroy a city in such a way? And why don’t the people who live there die? Prince Raoden is sent to Elantris after he goes through a thing, and through his eyes we discover what’s really going on there.
Outside of Elantris’ walls, we have Sarene, who was on her way to marry Raoden for a political marriage. She gets caught up in all of the mystery business, with the priests and the preachers and the royal family. It’s all very complicated but Sarene is bloody awesome. I loved the inside-outside dynamic that she and Raoden provided, although I wasn’t a fan of the romance that eventually blossomed between them.
Sanderson is so good at world-building, you guys. While he does seem to recycle tropes and basic plot points and themes, he goes on to build upon them and develop them and eventually you are left with an amazing world that feels pretty damn unique. The fantasy elements are, of course, the most compelling part of the story, and I loved reading about the world as it started to take shape. I love this Cosmere universe so much, and I am actually pretty excited about doing a reread at some point in the future so I can note down absolutely everything.
Elantris is a really good book, that is currently a standalone although I think Sanderson might be planning a potential sequel. Either way, Elantris is awesome, and I highly recommend reading it if you’re already a fan of Sanderson’s other series. I’m not sure I would recommend starting with this book as your first venture into the Cosmere, but it’s certainly a very good read.