I can’t believe that there is another Sanderson book that has made my favorite’s list! This is such a fantastic, unique, and interesting story! Though it does move slowly it is never uninteresting. The world is fantastic with well thought out magic systems, history, and mythology, and the characters are all well-developed and interesting. The writing is also spectacular! Each Sanderson book appears to have a similar feel to it but they are different enough to be enjoyable and unique, and this one is no exception. I highly recommend reading this book and if the plot deters you because of its political and religious focus, don’t let it. I tend not to like that either and I still greatly enjoyed this book! Certain plot points weren’t resolved in this book so I look forward to others however, the main plot resolves nicely and I consider this to be a terrific stand-alone novel!
Elantris is a city governed by living Gods, but once the Riod struck everything was destroyed. The city now lies in ruins and there are only corrupted Elantrians left with no ability to use their powers. The Kingdom of Arelon, without the protection of Elantris, chose a King, but the chosen one may not be what is best for the country. Ten years later, the beloved Prince Raoden and the only hope for the Kingdom is struck with the Shaod (the cursed disease of the Elantrians) and is thrown into Elantris where he must make a new life for himself. Sarene, his fiance, arrives early to Arelon to surprise her future husband only to find that she is now a widow.
Meanwhile, Hrathen, a Gyorn, (highest rank of Derethi priesthood) from Fjorden is sent to Kae, the capital city of Arelon. Here he must convert the Arelon heathens to his God. However, it may not be as easy as he believes with the ever cunning Princess Sarene standing in his way. If Hrathen fails, Wyrn (the Fjorden ruler) will convert Arelon through force and may destroy the country in the process.
“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.”
Though not a great summary, it was the best I could do. It is a very politically and religiously focused book and I know that doesn’t sound exciting, but I guarantee that it is so much more interesting than it sounds. Although the plot does move rather slowly with only action scenes near the very end of the book, there is so much intrigue and suspense that you can’t help but be engaged.
Despite the few confusing moments (mostly to do with the various religions) and its minor complexity, the plot is relatively easy to understand and is entirely believable. Not everything is very predictable about the book either. Though I was able to predict the overall outcome, there were several other minor things that I couldn’t. Actually, I was hoping that it would end a certain way, and I was surprised to find that the author kept me guessing until the very last pages whether or not it would end that way.
Sanderson does it again! He is able to create such interesting, believable worlds with the most astounding magic systems! In Elantris, the magic system revolves around Elantrians writing runes called Aons in the air, which draws upon the power connected to Elantris. The further away from Elantris they are the less of an affect the runes will have. There isn’t much more I can say about the magic systems without giving things away. Since the Elantrian’s fall they have been unable to use their magic, so we learn about it with Raoden and that one of the most interesting aspects of the book. Not understanding the magic system until the end is one reason I kept reading this book. I needed to know more!
Aother interesting part of the world are the Seons, which are little balls of light that follow some of the characters around. They act as servants and guardians. They are very interesting, each have their own personality, and little is known about them.
“One cannot seperate truth from actions…Physically inevitable or not, truth stands above all things. It is independant of who has the best army, who can deliver the longest sermons, or even who has the most priests. It can be pushed down, but it will always surface. Truth is the one thing you can never intimidate.”
Although the world was well described with well-thought out religions, hierarchies, and a magic system, it only focused on Arelon, but there are at least two or three others that we know about. I am hoping that we get to explore more of this world in following books. Sanderson does have a few more planned. Based on the plot, I feel as if it was okay that it only focused on one part of this world. Elantris (the city) has nothing to do with anywhere else, so why would Sanderson focus elsewhere.
The other reason I was so incredibly engaged in this book was the fantastic cast of characters! There are quite a few, but not so many to be completely overwhelmed and left with underdeveloped characters. I’m not going to be too detailed but give you a general idea.
I loved all the characters especially Raoden and Sarene. I was rooting for them the whole time to actually meet and then for Sarene to realize who he is! They are well developed, interesting characters and Sarene is a terrific female character. She can stand up for herself and doesn’t conform to the norm. She enjoys fencing and politics, instead of painting or embroidery. Sarene is intelligent and cunning as well. Raoden is intelligent, kind, and such a sweet guy. He would be the perfect leader of a country.
All things must progress, and progression is not always a steady incline. Sometimes we must fall, sometimes we will rise – some must be hurt while others have fortune, for that is the only way we can learn to rely on one another. As one is blessed, it is his privilege to help those whose lives are not as easy. Unity comes from strife, child.”
I wasn’t sure about Hrathen. He is a complex character whom you are not sure if you should like or hate. I was switching sides throughout the entire novel and it isn’t until the very end when you realize which side you should have taken.
Hrathen, Raoden, and Sarene are the three main characters and the book switches between their view-points. However, there are tons of secondary characters, all of whom I enjoyed emmensley. Surprisingly, they each had their own unique personality and were fairly well developed.
As always I thoroughly enjoy Sanderson’s writing. He has the ability to really make stories come alive. His dialogue is incredibly realistic and even, at times, hilarious. Everything about it is so natural. Sanderson seems to love writing in different point-of-views and it works very well here. Each viewpoint in this story was incredibly entertaining and though I always wanted to get back to Raoden, I was never bored with the others.
I honestly don’t find the cover to be very eye-catching. Also, the blurb on the front is terrible! Save that for the back of the book at least. It does at least fit the book and I love the title. Other editions have a better cover, especially the leatherbound edition, which features an Elantris Aon on the front.