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Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
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Elantris (2005)

by Brandon Sanderson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sel (1), Cosmere (1)

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3,8691761,983 (4.01)4 / 425
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English (165)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (3)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All languages (175)
Showing 1-5 of 165 (next | show all)
Fantasy aficionados are often notoriously difficult to please. In his debut novel, Elantris, Brandon Sanderson takes a huge risk by treading down a path that many new fantasy authors attempt to follow, and that is a novel heavy with political intrigue. The results are breathtakingly marvelous.

Elantris depicts a fantastical world that is falling apart in many ways. The novel shares its name with the former capitol in the kingdom of Arelon, which has since plummeted into sickness and disarray. Its prior inhabitants were composed of select citizens throughout the kingdom that became transformed by a process called the Reod, which also gifted them with magical powers and godlike beauty. Many years before the narrative begins, Elantris became “cursed,” and the city and its inhabitants were exiled and closed for business.

Elantris follows three main characters, all of whom possess fascinating back stories. Raoden, the prince of Arelon, finds himself in a dangerous quandary when he undergoes what was once the Reod, but is now an illness that transforms its victims into hideous creatures that appear to be dead but continue to live on, and hence, must be cast out into the ruins of Elantris forever. Serene, the princess of Teod and also Raoden’s fiancé, arrives in Elantris just days after Raoden “dies”, and thanks to outdated laws, is now a widow in an unknown land. Last but certainly not least, Hrathen, a warrior priest from Fjordell, travels to Arelon in an attempt to convert the people to his violent religion. If they do not comply, he will be forced to massacre them all.

Despite the novel’s (unsurprisingly) substantial length, there is never a dull moment. When the reader’s not embroiled in the antics of its protagonists, he or she is most likely ruminating on the various aspects of the novel dealing with its complex political systems and various religions. Sanderson’s world is vast and incredibly detailed. It’s very easy to get lost in the scenery and its many philosophical dilemmas, but this is a fabulous predicament to be in. It is hard for me to remember a time when I’ve ever been able to visualize a novel and its characters so well. You don’t just read Elantris, you live and breathe it.

If you’re a fantasy lover, Elantris is a reading experience you cannot miss. I would not be surprised if it becomes the new standard that fantasy authors must aspire to reach. And if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up adding Brandon Sanderson to your list of new favorite authors. Luckily, he has published a plethora of books in the past ten years, so you’ll have a lot to add to your “To Be Read” pile!
( )
  Codonnelly | Jun 24, 2019 |
There are flashes of Sanderson's future brilliance, but this book is kind of a mess.
It's kind of frustrating, really. Sanderson's later books are just so good, and there are plenty of hints of that in Elantris. Crazy ending with insane reveals? Check. Religion has a major role? Check. Cool magic system? Check. And yet.

Raoden, Sarene, and Hrathen are essentially significantly less interesting versions of Kaladin, Shallan, and Szeth. Raoden and Sarene are far too perfect; Sarene even comments that Raoden sounds too good to be true.

The first three hundred pages are slow and dull and very little happens. Things pick up around page 320, but the climax tries to fit too many reveals in and the result is a massive hodge-podge of information. The sheer number of reveals is ridiculous, and learning a last-minute twist about a character so minor I forgot about his existence kind of takes away the punch.

Sanderson doesn't really figure out how to juggle large casts of characters until Way of Kings, and in Elantris the minor characters blend together. Did Kiin really need two kids and two step-kids? Did Raoden's little group of aristocrats really need so many members? Sanderson oversaturates the novel with characters, to the detriment of the well fleshed-out ones. Really, the only minor characters I genuinely liked and enjoyed reading were Karata and Galladon. The rest were basically non-entities.

Sanderson also has a bad habit of telling instead of showing. On several occasions, he describes conversations rather than show the actual dialogue. It's an amatuerish tactic and drags the writing down. His characters also spend far too much time stuck in their own heads.

Right now I want Sanderson to focus on the Stormlight Archives, but I'd be very interested if he rewrote Elantris some time in the future. He's a much stronger, more mature author now. Elantris is kid's stuff compared to his current fare. ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
This book is near perfection for me: characters with depth, elaborate yet accessible to the reader world building, not too many descriptions, action, political manoeuvres... I just loved it. ( )
  Sept | May 21, 2019 |
My first venture into Sanderson's epic Cosmere, I loved the originality and intimacy of this story. In the city of Elantris, magic has turned on itself, and the once god-like citizens who lived there are now walking corpses. Around this premise swirls all the expected fantasy-culture details and political intrigue between kingdoms, as well as the love story of Raoden and Sarene, two royals who have never met but agree to wed for the good of their countries.

It slogs a bit in places, especially those covert political dialogues as people tell each other information. The prose is mostly flat. But this is a debut: having read the Reckoners trilogy, I know Sanderson has grown in both these areas. And while he is now able to write a tighter plot, he never sacrifices character depth to do it. Ultimately, Elantris succeeds not because of cool worldbuilding (though it has that too) but because Raoden and Sarene matter to the reader. Their ambitions, their insecurities, their losses and their loves--this book belongs to them. As it should. ( )
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |
God this was poor.

There are some great fantasy ideas and the ground plan for an intricate plot of conspiracies and politics, but nothing like the ability to carry them off.

What there is a lot of is abysmal dialogue (veering between the sententious and smug depending on who's talking), padding, exposition, unnecessary explanation (no one has a thought that is not expressed), and unearned attempts at emotion and revelation. A key moment near the end relies on one character suddenly remembering something from childhood; the book then ties itself in knots trying to explain why none of the better informed characters were aware of this key bit of information.

In one of the appendices to my edition, Sanderson describes himself as a one-draft writer. It shows.

A lot of people clearly get a lot out of Brandon Sanderson and his books, and I'm very glad for them. I really wish I could see it. But, for me, Elantris is overlong, underwritten and flat out bad. ( )
1 vote m_k_m | Feb 19, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 165 (next | show all)
The author's skill at turning conventional fantasy on its head produces a tale filled with surprising twists and turns and a conclusion both satisfying and original.
added by Katya0133 | editLibrary Journal, Jackie Cassada (May 15, 2005)
 
A cut above the same-old, but hardly a classic.
added by Katya0133 | editKirkus (May 1, 2005)
 
A surprisingly satisfying, single-volume epic fantasy that invokes a complex, vibrant world.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist, Regina Schroeder (May 1, 2005)
 
The intrigue and excitement grow steadily in this smoothly written, perfectly balanced narrative; by the end readers won't want to put it down.
added by Katya0133 | editPublishers Weekly (Apr 8, 2005)
 
This a book that if you haven't read already, it should be high up on your list of books to read next. While the steep learning curve and the slow pacing can be a little frustrating at times, the compelling characters and the intriguing mysteries make it so hard to put this book down.
 

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brandon Sandersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Creer, JeffreyMapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de las Heras, StephanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garrett, JackNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Green, SamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martiniere, StephanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
Dedicated to my mother,

Who wanted a doctor,

Ended up with a writer,

But loved him enough not to complain

(Very much).
First words
Elantris was beautiful, once.
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Haiku summary
Elantris, fabled
city of old. Then: Sheod,
doom. Magic restores.
(passion4reading)

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Arriving in the kingdom of Arelon to enter a marriage of state, princess Sarene discovers that her intended has died and that she is considered his widow, leaving her a lone force against the imperial ambitions of a religious fanatic.

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