Elantris (2005) by Brandon Sanderson

Cover of Elantris, a black silhouette against a green wispy light, entering an imposing fortress like structure.

I was introduced to Brandon Sanderson nearly a decade ago with the Mistborn series. I flew through those in no time but never followed it up by looking him up. I must have been pre-occupied though I can’t imagine by what. Nevertheless, a year or so ago I picked up the first stormlight archive have found myself reading a Brando Sando publication more often than not. To correct the order I have been reading them in, I decided to start with the first book he ever published, Elantris. After this I might re-read Mistborn, and then finally catch up with the latest Stormlight Archive novel, Rhythm of War.

But enough about my ongoing affair with the Cosmere. Elantris is a fantasy novel set in world where humans, at random, are blessed with seemingly Divine powers. But what was once a blessing is now a curse as it leaves the afflicted hollow. Now people fear being blessed for then they too will take on the demonic form of the infamous Elantrians. What then happens to a people who have just seen their gods fall?

Sanderson explores these grand questions, among others, through the lens of three incredible characters. Raoden, the enigmatic prince, Sarene, the intelligent and sharp witted fiance of Raoden, and Hrathen, a high-ranking priest of an opposing faith, sent to convert the people in the next 3 months lest their leader choose to instead force them into submission. Sanderson fills these characters with incredible depth and complexity, making each chapter with them fascinating to read.

And while it is clear that this is one of his earlier works, visible in the unnecessary repetition of some ideas and emotions, it is undoubtely a masterfully crafted story. It is educational to read because it is just raw enough to give you hints as to how the master crafts this narrative but not so much so that it feels undercooked. What is particularly impressive about this book that cannot be said about ongoing Sanderson series is that it manages to explore so much in such a short titme. There are philosophical, theological, moral and romantic questions that all strive for your attention. truly this book manages to make you think about various issues while being a thorough page turner.

Lest you have any doubts, like all Sanderson books, I had goosebumps by the end. A must read for fans of fantasy and Cosmere alike.

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