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!
CW: human sacrifice, sexism
Ten years ago Elantris was the beautiful, magical, capital of Arelon filled with god-like people with a certain glow about them. However, now it is a dark and filthy prison where people who are cursed are left to rot and nobody knows why. Now neighbouring Kae is the capital and Princess Sarene has arrived from Teod to marry the people’s beloved Prince Raodon however, she arrives to the news that he has died and she is now his widow instead of his wife. Will she discover the truth that he has been cursed and is just a stone’s throw away, or will she be too busy trying to prevent an invasion? In the meantime, Raodon is doing everything he can to discover the mystery behind the curse, will he be successful or will he succumb to madness like the other Elantrians?
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.