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Elantris Hardcover – April 21, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Sanderson's outstanding fantasy debut, refreshingly complete unto itself and free of the usual genre clichés, offers something for everyone: mystery, magic, romance, political wrangling, religious conflict, fights for equality, sharp writing and wonderful, robust characters. The godlike inhabitants of Elantris, once the capital of the land of Arelon, have degenerated into powerless, tortured souls, unable to die, after the city's magic inexplicably broke 10 years earlier. When the same curse strikes Prince Raoden of Arelon and he's imprisoned in Elantris, he refuses to surrender to his grim fate and instead strives to create a society out of the fallen and to unlock the secret that will restore the city's glory. Meanwhile, Princess Sarene of Kae (Arelon's new capital), who was betrothed to Raoden sight unseen, believes her intended has died. Officially declared his widow, she must use her political savvy and wit to protect Kae from malevolent forces without and within the city, chiefly Hrathen, a leader of the creepy Shu-Dereth faith, who aims to either convert Kae or destroy it within three months. The intrigue and excitement grow steadily in this smoothly written, perfectly balanced narrative; by the end readers won't want to put it down. As the blurb from Orson Scott Card suggests, Sanderson is a writer to watch.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Until 10 years ago, Elantris was the capital of Arelon, inhabited by ordinary humans transformed into magic-using demigods by the Shaod. But the magic failed, Elantris started to rot, and its inhabitants turned into powerless wrecks. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives in Kae, the new capital, close enough to Elantris to constantly remind of faded glory, prepared for a marriage to ally Teod and Arelon against the religious imperialists of Fjordell. But, she is told, her fiance, Prince Raoden, is dead. She and a recently arrived high priest of Fjordell, Hrathen, clash. Sarene tries to retain the freedom of Teod and Arelon, Hrathen tries to incite the populace to convert so that Fjordell can take over. Neither suspects the truth about Raoden. Taken by the Shaod, he struggles to unite the crippled Elantrians and discover why the magic failed. The unrest comes to a head as governments topple, the Elantrians' secrets are revealed, and Fjordell's forces arrive. A surprisingly satisfying, single-volume epic fantasy that invokes a complex, vibrant world. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Wow just doesn't cover it. After reading this book (and the Alcatraz), I'm pretty sure I'll become a Sanderson fan. It has been a while since I gave a book such a wholehearted 5.
Where do I start?
Characters. Fantastic. None were cliche, and all impacted the story, and the three MCs kept surprising me. Raoden's optimism was so neat, calculated, rare, and endearing. Serene was clever through and through, and she never backed down from a challenge and had plenty of faults. Although I kept expecting her to turn into a lovesick princess, she never did. Hrathen really moved things along and stirred up so much trouble. I kept expecting to hate him, but I felt almost sorry for him each time Serene or someone messed up his carefully managed plans. Dilaf . . . was scary.
Plot! Wow. I have seen few books planned as well as this one. Each event impacted the others, and readers constantly learned new and amazing information, whether it had to do with the Shaod or someone's background. Characters acted believably and with complex, conflicting motivations. Danger built, tension increased, and the ending was superb.
I loved the romance (slight and important and super clean). The magic had appropriate limitations and just enough explanation. Nearly every character had secrets and a disguise. Lots of violence, but only small amounts of blood or gore.
This was Sanderson's first published novel, and I'm just astonished every time I remember that. Also, he removed an extra bad guy from this book, and it makes sense why. The extra bad guy started pulling the plot off track in the last third of the book (and added an extra 10 pages). Now if only I could figure out how to slim my own novels down so neatly . . . .
Anyway, one of the big realizations I had after reading this novel was that Sanderson can write women better that some women. Too often, female characters are very one-dimensional. They think about boys all the time, their main connection to the plot is that they're falling in love with the hero, and their dialogue only has one flavor the entire book.
Not so with Serene! She could have moped about the castle bawling that she became a widow before she even met her prince, but she doesn't. She gets right to work and doesn't let her widowhood define her. Yes!
This is what a strong female character looks like. I don't care if she can punch someone's lights out; I want to know that she can make decisions and act with responsibility and maturity on her own.
I would suggest this story for the fantasy lover. It has some great action and some fantastic quotes. It keeps you guessing who is good, who is bad, and will all love or will all die?
Just cannot say enough about Brandon Sanderson and his great, clean, pic fantasy writing. Keep them coming.
Once again the magic is different from anything I've seen before, and it feels more like science than fantasy. Maybe it simply feels different because he's good at coming up with hard magical rules, and then interpreting them in creative ways?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very predictable. Several plot points occur by a character having the 1 in a million chance of seeing/hearing something...Read more