If you’ve been reading Fangirl Friday, it will come as no shock that I’ve been on a Brandon Sanderson kick for quite a while now. Recently I began reading Sanderson’s first novel, Elantris, which, unlike the rest of his works, is a standalone book.
Elantris, the titular city, was once the city of gods in this fantasy world. Ten years prior to chapter one, a great curse befell Elantris, turning the gods into disfigured undead beings. Furthermore, becoming cursed and disfigured and undead is now a sort of disease that one can catch. Becoming Elantrian is a fate worse than death, or so we are led to believe.
The book starts when we meet poor Prince Raoden, heir to the throne of Arelon, who wakes up on the eve of his arranged marriage to find he has been cursed as an Elantrian. Thrown into the walled decaying city of Elantris, his father, the King, hides the truth and tells his court that Raoden has died.
Among his ‘mourners’ is his bride Sarene, who is now legally wed even though the marriage hasn’t occurred yet, due to a clause in their betrothal contract. A widow before her own wedding day, Sarene refuses to sit back idly in her new kingdom, as she senses political unrest and dark forces may be at play.
Meanwhile, religious storms are brewing as Hrathen, a leader of the violently evangelical sect of Shu-Dereth, plans a crusade against what he views as the heretical heathens of Arelon.
In Elantris, politics, religion, and magic clash vibrantly. Sanderson masterfully arranges the book’s chapters in a way that always leaves you flipping the page for just one more chapter before putting the book down.
To be sure, there are a LOT of new names to learn, most of them difficult to pronounce and even harder to remember how to spell. For this reason, I did find myself having to flip back now and again to remember the difference between Shu-Korath, Shu-Keseg, and Shu-Dereth, for example. (All three are religions, by the way).
However, Sanderson brilliantly weaves a tightly knit story with a surprising number of three dimensional characters for a standalone fantasy novel. Elantris‘s magic sure won me over!
Tell me, have you read Elantris? What did you think?
Until next time,