Genre: Adult Fantasy
Release date: May 1st, 2005
Goodreads page: here
TW: death, violence, Mild pain, depression
My rating: 4.5/5 ⭐
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.
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.
Elantris is Sanderson’s first published novel and I was so scared to read it. I had seen a lot of reviews saying that this book was their least favorite one of all Sanderson’s novels, that it wasn’t as good as his other books, that they were disappointed and so on. I started this book, hoping that I would not hate it and expecting nothing. Well, let me tell you that I was SHOCKED. This book was GOOD, and I was SO impressed by Brandon Sanderson. As usual, this author succeeded in surprising me, in a good way, and I was in AWE of his genius. This book was amazing, honestly, I devoured this book and read 300 pages of it in like a week end. What was the others thinking? This book was GREAT.
To put some context here, I haven’t read The Stormlight Archives series yet. Maybe that’s why! I had only read the Mistborn trilogy (Era one) and Skyward. But before starting Sanderson’s most loved and respected masterpiece, I wanted to read Elantris and Warbreaker first.
From the first chapter, I was immediately intrigued. The premise of the book was so interesting, and everything started right with the first chapter from Prince Raoden’s point of view, when he discovered he had been cursed by the ancient transformation, known as the Shaod, and was forced to be exiled in the abandoned and dead city of Elantris. We had 3 points of view in this book, Prince Raoden of Arelon, Princess Sarene of Teod, and the priest Hrathen of Fjordell, and all of them were really interesting. Sarene and Hrathen’s points of view were my favorite though because they were full of political intrigue, which is usually my favorite theme in fantasy books.
“To live is to have worries and uncertainties. Keep them inside, and they will destroy you for certain--leaving behind a person so callused that emotion can find no root in his heart.”I really enjoyed all the characters here, but I must say that my favorites were Sarene and her little circle of friends, who were initially Prince Raoden’s friends. I loved Sarene from the beginning, when she arrived from her country Teod, to Elantris to meet her bethroted, Prince Raoden, before the wedding. Her chapters were full of humor and intelligence, she was so interesting and it was fascinating to discover this new world from her eyes. I loved the relationship she had with her seon Ashe, a magical being in the form of floating orbs of light, who accompanied her in Arelon. I love reading about Sarene’s new allies, Duke Roial, Count Eondel, and all the characters in her little circle, who were dissatisfied with King Iaidon’s leadership and together, decided to overthrow him. The political intrigue was amazingly well done, I thought that the book was really fast-paced and I couldn’t stop reading it.
Hrathen was also such an interesting character! His development through the book was so well done, and I loved all the difficulties he encountered in the purpose of converting the people of Arelon to Shu-Dereth’s religion. I also really enjoyed Raoden’s journey into Elantris with Galladon, a grumpy Elantrian that Raoeden befriended on his first day into the city. Galladon was such an interesting character, full of pessimism and irony, and his banter with Raoden added a lot of humor to the story. I also enjoyed the romance, despite being a bit too much rushed in the beginning.
“You will find that hate can unify people more quickly and more fervently than devotion ever could.”The world-building was one of the strongest points of this book. Brandon Sanderson never disappoints in that matter, but I was in awe of what he had created for his debut novel. It was fascinating, with a magic system using symbols called Aons, which can be drawn directly in the air as glowing light or can be incorporated directly into the designs of buildings. Learning about it with the point of view of Raoden was really interesting and I loved the mystery around it. The book was intriguing from the start and I didn’t mind learning bits of information here and there about this world-building.
“You optimists just can't understand that a depressed person doesn't want you to try and cheer them up. It makes us sick.”I thought that the book was pretty fast-paced through the whole story, with a lot of world-building and political intrigue, and even some characters developments. I found however that some of the plot intrigues were resolved too quickly for my taste, but it would not be surprising if it was indeed a publisher’s request to reduce the length of the book. It was after all only 600 pages long, which was quite short for an author as Sanderson.
As for the ending, it was an incredible rollercoaster, fast-paced and full of plot twists, a Sanderlanche as his fans called it. Overall, I was so impressed by Sanderson’s first published novel. I didn’t have high expectations for this book because of all the mixed reviews I had read, and I think that is what made it even better for me. It was a total surprise, this book was amazing from the start, and despite some flaws, I was in awe of Sanderson’s genius and talent. I was left with an emptiness and the frustration that there wasn’t more book (yet) in this world when I finished this book, and it made me even more excited to read his other novels this year. I would highly recommend it to every epic fantasy fans, this author never disappointed me so far, and he totally deserves his praises!