Elantris (Elantris #1) by Brandon Sanderson: Book Review

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The capital of Arelon, the home to people transformed into magic-using demigods by the Shaod.

But then the magic failed, Elantris started to rot, and its inhabitants turned into powerless wrecks.

And in the new capital, Kae, close enough to Elantris for everyone to be reminded of what they have lost, a princess arrives. Sarene is to be married to unite Teod and Arelon against the religious imperialists of Fjordell. But she is told that Raoden, her husband to be, is dead.

Determined to carry on the fight for Teod and Arelon’s freedom, Sarene clashes with the high priest Hrathen. If Hrathen can persuade the populace to convert, Fjordell will reign supreme.

But there are secrets in Elantris, the dead and the ruined may yet have a role to play in this new world. Magic lives. (Goodreads)

My Review

My Rating: 3/5

Firstly, if you are a Brandon Sanderson fan, you should read this book. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Elantris is set in the Cosmere so there is the odd hint or two at the wider universe any fan would love to see!
  2. You can see how much a writer can improve

Spoiler-Free Section

Brandon Sanderson is a brilliant writer, one of the best in the genre. His characters and world are always so fleshed out and move seamlessly together. In Elantris, this is not always the case.

I enjoyed reading this book. The plot was intriguing and the links to the Cosmere and finding out how the magic worked was exciting, but it felt a little shallow.

I know a lot of people compare this book (his debut novel) to The Way of Kings but that’s an unfair comparison considering how much time passed between the two projects. We can, however, compare it to the Mistborn trilogy and say that Sanderson’s grasp of character development and worldbuilding suddenly came into place in Mistborn, but in Elantris those elements are lacking.

Possible Spoilers Ahead

Raoden, Sarene, and Hrathen were the main characters and none of them were completely full. Raoden kept winning battles without having to do much, Sarene had a wonderful personality but her plans had no effect on the story, and Hrathen changed very dramatically in the end.

Out of all of them, Hrathen was the most developed. He fought inner demons (he would hate that phrase!) and battled with his faith. All while trying to convert the populace to his branch of religion. This was the most interesting story-line because there was something relatable in his doubt, even if the reader is an atheist.

The ending was certainly disappointing. There were a lot of swoop-in-and-save-the-day moments which got irritating, and because of this the ending did not feel deserved. I liked the recovery of Elantris and the magic, but it felt out of place in a story that was so character-driven.

The twist in the main antagonist was pretty cool, but as we knew and still know very little about the world, his transformation was confusing rather than satisfying (in a textual sense – this element of the people was not foreshadowed or even mentioned before).

Overall, it wasn’t a terrible book. Like I said, I enjoyed it, but I have so many complaints that I can’t rate it too highly.

To see my reviews of the Mistborn Trilogy or The Stormlight Archive and everything else Sanderson, CLICK HERE

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