Thursday, April 29, 2010

Epic Review - Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (5/5 stars)

I read Warbreaker by Sanderson and absolutely loved it.  Then I immediately acquired Elantris as well as Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy because I wanted to read more Sanderson.  This was a great book and I am so glad that I read it.

The story is told from the viewpoint of three different characters.  Riorden is the Crown Prince of Arelon and is struck down by the curse of Elantris and thrown into that city to rot with the other Elantrans.  Princess Sarene of Teod finds out about Riorden's death on her way to marry him; because of the contract she is considered married even if the other party should die until Riorden's father is no longer ruling.   The third viewpoint is from Hrathen, a leader of the Shu-Dereth faith, who is under a deadline to convert Arelon to the Shu-Dereth religion.  These three characters maneuver deftly through complex politics in an effort to save Arelon, the people and themselves.  Along the way the secret of Elantris is discovered.

Sanderson is an exceptionally story teller; and he really excels at these complex epic fantasies.  My biggest complaints about some epic fantasies are there are too many people to remember, the plot is too complex to remember, the magic system is confusing, and relationships between the characters are unbelievably dry.  Sanderson never runs into these problems; he introduces the people in a way that makes them easy to remember...never once was I confused about who was who.  The magic system is explained very well without getting preachy; we discover it along with the characters.  The plot is very complex and full of intrigue but Sanderson maneuvers through it with such grace you never have trouble following what is going on.

Most importantly Sanderson's characters have heart.  At times they may be a little too perfect, but that just endears them to you more.  I always thought that the Lord of the Rings could have done better with a little more emotion and love between the characters, same with the Wheel of Time series.  I love both of these series dearly, don't get me wrong.  Sanderson just gives his characters a penchant for nobility and love that makes them so interesting to read about.  There is also some humor thrown in now and then which made this book more fun to read than your typical epic fantasy. 

I loved that the story was so complete and that it fit into one book, instead of twelve 800 page books.  I am impressed with the intelligence behind the plot, the serious moral issues discussed, the humor, the love, the magic...just everything.  This book is much like Warbreaker in that is it more about political intrigue than about massive battles.

Overall I loved this book.  Now I am ready to read the Mistborn trilogy.  I also have his Stormlight series on my list to get when it is released.  If you love epic fantasy, intrigue, and magic with a touch of romance you will love this book.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge

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