Book Review: Elantris

Elantris _”The finest novel of fantasy to be written in many years.”_ ~Orson Scott Card

Brandon Sanderson’s debut novel Elantris is a fresh and remarkably cunning approach to fantasy fiction. Prince Raoden, heir to the throne of Arelon, suddenly finds himself taken by the Shaod and cast out to dwell among the cursed of Elantris. He must now restore the city to some semblance of its former glory or else risk being taken by the Heod, a form of madness that afflicts most of the city’s population. Sarene, Raoden’s bride-to-be, finds herself widowed even before being married and finds herself deeply involved in the political turmoil of her husband’s country. She takes it upon herself to lead a small band of nobles to overturn the country’s corrupted government and restore glory and honor to the throne. Hrathen is a priest and missionary for his god, a god who has ordered the destruction of Arelon if they do not convert. It is Hrathen’s goal to win the conversion of an entire nation before that can happen.

This is the tale of three people whose separate stories interweave intimately with one another as they struggle to bring order out of chaos. The story is filled with political intrigue and magic, dead men and demons, noblemen and traitors. You come to love Raoden and Sarene and to hate Hrathen and his follower Dilaf. Yet, in all cases you empathize with the characters, sympathizing with their dilemmas. Sanderson has built rich characters in this book that drive the story onward to a climax and resolution that leaves you breathless. This is by far one of the best and most enjoyable fantasy novels I’ve read.

While _Elantris_ stands alone as a single, self-contained novel, this reader hopes that Sanderson will return to the land of Arelon again. Many questions remain to be explored an answered – the origins of the Aons, the tying of the Aons to Arelon, the origin of the lake, and the origins of the Seons, to name just a few – as well as potential conflicts to be faced – Dakhor Monastery, Wyrn. “Sanderson has said”: that a return to Arelon is not necessarily out of the question. In the meantime, I know that I’ll be collecting his other books and keeping him at the top of my reading list.

Upcoming Book Reviews: Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

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