Publication Date: 01/05/2005
Length: 590 pages
CW: human sacrifice, sexism
Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.GoodReads
Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.
But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.
What better book for my first review of 2021 than my first ever experience with a Brandon Sanderson novel. After rediscovering my love for the fantasy genre I asked a few people for recommendations and Brandon Sanderson came up every time, particularly Elantris, so I thought that would be a good place to start!
Throughout the novel we are introduced to a lot of characters however there are three main protagonists that the novel jumps between: Raodon, Serene and Hrathen. All of the characters in the novel were great, I either loved them or loved to hate them because of how interesting and complex they all were. Raodon and Sarene were brilliant, they both carried their chapters so well and despite the situations they found themselves in they also both had a great sense of humour and they had some great lines that made me laugh which really endeared me to them. The chapters with Hrathen were very different with very different characters which gave even further depth to the world. Whilst I didn’t particularly like Hrathen because you’re not supposed to, I still really enjoyed reading his chapters and seeing what he was up to because of the depth to his character. Whilst there are three protagonists, there were also a lot of side characters that I really loved too like Galladon, Saolin, Shunden and Roial just to name a few.
The fact that the protagonist’s perspectives alternate between chapters did a great job of helping pace the novel – it was also immensely satisfying for me when something happened in one chapter and then in the next one you would find more information and realise what was actually going on in the chapter before it. I also loved how the chapters towards the climax of the novel would change perspectives within the chapter, I thought this was a very clever way to build tension and pacing which made the ending even more exciting. I adored how Sanderson crafted the world that Elantris is set, it was so detailed with its lore – it wasn’t just the characters that made this book such a delight but it was the politics, the history, even the landscape that the characters are set in.
I’m thrilled that I finally introduced myself to Sanderson’s writing, not so thrilled that I won’t be back into the wonderful city of Elantris soon, however I have several other works of Sanderson’s to work my way through first! I can definitely understand why so many people recommended Elantris to me and now I am doing the same, this is a must read for any fantasy fan whether you’re new to the genre or a veteran.