Book Discussion: Elantris Prologue - Chapter 15
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Remember, NO SPOILERS past the end of Chapter 15!
I really like the line - Eternity ended 10 years ago.
This work reminds me of Guy Gavriel Kay, as I think others may've noted elsewhere, because it's well written and it's different from the standard fantasy adventure, I'm not sure if he was an influence on your work Brandon, but I'd be interested to know who your literary influences may be?
Well formed characters, and a religio-political situation that is complex enough to be intriguing and not too complex as to be dull and distancing, plus there's the whole question of what happened to Elantris. A great start to this book, and certainly more than interesting enough to keep you reading, imo.
Oh, and I really want a Seon for Christmas :-)
Love the rune thing.
I read the first 3 chapters and stopped to think about the book. After the first one I still didn't like it, our 'Hero' is condemned for eternity, and there is a list of unexplained new things a mile long. I don't mind unexplained things that come up and are saved for later, but to me there were TOO MANY. I felt a few of them could have had at least some stronger hints of the meanings.
The more I thought about it the more I thought that switching chapters 1 and 3 would have been a much stronger start, and personnally drawn me in much faster. Of course as I continued to read, I don't know how that would have affected the rest of the book, since (through this part of the book anyway) the chapters have been rotating through the three main charactors in the same order. This also gives the thought of how would it be to read this book by reading every 3rd chapter?
The farther I've read, the more I like it.
One question I have for Brandon, deals with all these made up names. Like the different levels to serve under the Fj... (I don't have the book in front of me to look up spelling). Were they all made up ( and if so why?) or did you pull them from a foriegn language (Maybe a Scandinavian?). As a follow up, do you plan to continue this in future books?
It's like 'Sci Fi' books that have to rename everything into an alien language, if used to heavily it can detract from the story. This just seemed kind of obvious in a couple chapters.
Now my Disclaimer: I AM enjoying this book and think it is well written the story so far is excellent. I am merely pointing out the few things that have detracted from it for me personnally.
The prologue was really strong, which was a enjoyable. Usually I find myself skimming the prologue to fantasy novels because they're just LONG AND BORING, but this was short, interesting, and to the point which was great.
I really want a seon as well. I feel so sorry for Raoden, seeing Ien after he lost his mind. I hope Raoden finds a way to heal him.
All in all, I love this book. It seems like everyone else on GD loves it as well which is awesome!
And then you can join the discussion.
I absolutely adore Raoden and Sarene both. I don't want to say anything, because I'm not sure where Chapter 15 ends. When I get home from work, I will make a more cohesive post!
Okay, katylit, I'm with you on the Hrathen thing. What a fantabulous character! He's got a conscience! :o) I'm impressed with Raoden, but not drawn to him. Nope, I want to see Hrathen! ;o) Nothing is more intriguing than a bad guy with a good side.
Also, I haven't read as much modern fantasy as maybe many of you had, so I'm wondering...do the events of 9/11, the rise of fundamentalist religion in the world that feels persecuted and thus strikes back, do these events drive modern fantasy to reflect the conflict? Here we have in Elantris a strong, fundamentalist religion trying to dominate the world, one country at a time. And Lions did the same thing with the Jaddists (Christians) conquering Al-Rassan. I know religion has been used as a motivator for many wars in our world, in our history, but in my limited reading of fantasy I think of The Earthsea Trilogy which touches on religion, but it isn't a motivator, and of course The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, which is simply a battle between good and evil, religion isn't really a factor. I'm not trying to start another religious debate, just putting my thoughts out there. (this is only my second attempt at a book discussion, the first one didn't go so well, so please have patience with me :) )
I love that Clam, "Nothing is more intriguing than a bad guy with a good side." Reminds me of Snape in HP, keeps you wondering...is he or isn't he?
I also really liked how unpredictable the events are. A lot of them really threw me and since I've read so much that is predictable I enjoyed that a lot.
I wasn't hooked until about 50 pages in though. I think a stronger beginning would have been good, but in the end it didn't matter much because I loved the book. The beginning made me curious, but the story didn't draw me in for a few chapters, but by then there was no way I was stopping.
Early on I made a scan of the map, and printed a slightly smaller version to use as a bookmark. Then I didn't have to keep flipping back to the front to see which countries and regions were being discussed.
As a good feminist I should be upset with the way the women are portrayed, but I fail to be - their circumstances are too familiar not to be believable, as are the attitudes shown by (some some of) the men.
However I do not share in the warm feelings for Hrathen that some of you have. I think he is too simple. Or maybe I have a problem with the name Fjorden, which rings of my native scandinavia, when nothing else in either names or characters or belief feels true to that initial picture.
All in all I feel that the Jaddeth Empire is too much an enemy, without enough too much the "black" part, meant to be threatening without forgiving, without ever seeing that they too is a nation of humans...
To me the political and religious intrigues a is possibilities that could have been developed more strongly - there is a great potential in Serene here. As of now it is Raodens quest that holds my interest!
But as a small side comment I'd add that fundamentalism isn't something new - it is our viewing it as fundamentalist that is. Of course we can't remember, it was too long ago, but in part it was fundamentalism that forced lots of people to relocate from Europe to what became the US and Canada...
And - I have no problem with the religions and names, but that may be a mental disorder of sorts? I know people have the same issues when reading Kay, and I have no problems with separating people, country and belief there either... Quite the contrary.
Well, that makes no sense to me at all.
Sorry I don't have more time for the Elantris discussion, folks. I have been busy with two things: I was crushing my enemies at work during the weekend and this morning... and on the way into work, I saved a puppy from a storm drain.
Other influences? Well, when I was a teenager, I was heavily influenced by three female writers: Anne McCaffrey, Melanie Rawn, and Barbara Hambly. I read a TON of work by these ladies, and credit them with being the ones who got me into the genre. I think you can trace some of my fascination with ‘hard fantasy’ magic systems back to Melanie, actually.
In the middle of my reading career--my late teens--I got sucked into the ‘boy’ epics. David Eddings, Tad Williams, Robert Jordan. When I started writing my first book, I was heavily derivative of them (as one might expect. You can probably still see traces of my love of Eddings work in my character banter, which I think was his strong point.) As I aged, however, I found myself reacting more and more AGAINST the influence of these writers. I still respect all three authors, and their writing, for various reasons. However, I found myself wanting to be less like them, and more of my own voice.
That’s tough to do in fantasy, honestly. I don’t claim to have made it yet. However, my goal is to write fantasy that still ‘feels’ like fantasy, but that doesn’t read like the epics that dominated the 80s and 90s.
More responses coming as I find time!
And, I simply must have a Seon! Brandon, do you think you could get to work on that? I would like for my Seon to be able to teach my classes and grade papers in addition to all of the other things they do. :)
However, the philosophies are very interesting to me, and you are right to sense some influence there in the way I developed the concept of the magic in ELANTRIS. Underlying the idea of the Aons, actually, is the concept of the Chinese logographic writing system. (Actually, more the Korean or Japanese system--where you often see old Chinese characters mixed with a more modern, phonetic alphabet.) Each name in the book an be seen (structurally, not in sound or meaning) as a Chinese character (an Aon) mixed with a Korean or Japanese affix. Raoden would then be Rao (logographic character) den (Aonic affix, written in a different phonetic alphabet.)
The eternal pain and suffering of the afflicted.... Ugh - I can imagine that - very effective. The squallor and filth is also described vividly. I needed a shower after reading it. ;o)
Raoden is "coached" by Galladon, an experienced resident of Elantris. He explains many things such as the history and allegiances of the warring factions. This helps to move the plot along briskly but I prefer the hero to discover things slowly for himself.
Spotty, blackened Raoden is hot? Ok ladies - if you say so but I can tell you that Sarene is DEFINITELY hot.
p.s. I agree with darrow, Sareeeene ya! 8)
The only problem I have with the characters is that they are a little too "perfect." Raoden doesn't skip a beat or stop to feel crappy about his situation. As soon as he arrives he's staging a revolution. I know he's the hero, but I found that a tad unrealistic. Ditto Sarene. I really like Hrathen, tho. I totally understand what clam is saying.
I don't agree with darrow in msg #29 above when he thinks that the protagonist should have had to discover things by himself. The book would have been forbiddingly long, and I think the character Raoden needed a sidekick or companion that made him more human - he his dangerously close on being to good to be true.
Katylit and I had this discussion about The Lions of Al-Rassan, where we had different views on how we connected/or not to which protagonist depending on how we did or did not regard them as "heroes". Of course there are "brainy" lit, but in genres like fantasy I think it is essential for the reader to be able to connect to any of the characters/be it individuals or culture or whatever.
If you connect you feel for the character; want to know what will happen; and end up accepting odd names etc. (presuming the general setup/concept feels valid, of course).
While reading I felt that the book was very well edited, for being a first work, and I soon stopped to watch it as such. And part of the editing is making the story and the characters seem believable? Or so I think...
*taking big swig from my cup of tea, it's 9:45 PM here, and LT loads slooooooooooooooooooooooooow*
One interesting thing to note about the book. A lot of readers, I’ve found, come to enjoy one of the three viewpoints a lot more than the others. This was unexpected, but I can see how it happened. At least they rotate quickly! (One of the more disappointing thing I’ve read was an email from a reader who’d decided to skip Hrathen’s viewpoints after deciding in the first few chapters that he was a stereotypical bad guy. The story kind of falls apart in my mind if you don’t watch all three viewpoints influence each other--and, of course, if you skip Hrathen as a stereotypical bad guy, you don’t give me a chance to fill him out as a character and make him into something more. Ah, well.)
Wilaf is my all time favorite epic hero! What a guy! I cry my eyes out every time I read his stand by his king against the dragon...tearing up right now, as a matter of fact :-) but why make him the bad guy? Or are you just using it as a source for Anglo Saxon names, and not because they have similar personalities to your characters?
Brandon, you should have you publisher sell bookmarks with 'the map' printed on them. ;o)
/and really, Teod should be included on the map, at least it's border closest to the continet/
34> I seem to like Hrathen's point of view the most, even though I'm hoping he loses, as far as conquering the countries are concerned.
an email from a reader who’d decided to skip Hrathen’s viewpoints
I find that sad, if I'm going to read a book, I'm going to read it. It would be interesting to read the book 3 times each time read only one point of view, that could be neat.
I do like the rotating pov, I don't think I've read a book that has been this consistant in its rotation before.
From the annotations on my website: “I don’t usually do things like this--I don’t believe in the standard ‘hook’ idea. (Meaning starting books with a huge bang of a sentence just to grab attention) However, when I was thinking about this book, the first lines of the first three chapters were some of the first things that occurred to me. These three lines became the foundation for how I characterized the separate viewpoints, and they were part of what drew me to writing the book in the first place. If you go through and read them, I think they each have a little bit of zip, and hopefully invoke a sense of curiosity. These three lines introduce each character and one of their primary conflicts, and do it in a simple, clear way.
I’m not trying to impersonate him, however. (Any more than I’m trying to impersonate Pratchett, whom I also respect highly.) I want nothing more than to be my own writer. Still, I can’t help buy acknowledge Kay as an influence, since he does such interesting things with fantasy, staying away from the standard clichés and concepts.
The prologue and chapter one had my mind hopping all over the place. Is this the after life? Heaven? New bodies? A disease? A curse? I had to read on.
Ch. 2 A very decent heroine in the making and one that didn't make me cringe with her perfection or her sappiness. Very realistic. I couldn't figure out why the parents showed so little interest in the fate of their son. One thing I like about Sarene and Raoden is that they dive right in and don't wallow in their problems. Realistic or not, I like that.
Ch. 3 You all know I'm eating these religious themes up. Hrathen fascinates me. Not evil, dedicated to what he believes, or what he thinks he believes, time will tell. Also ruthless in his dedication. All means suit the ends. I don't like that part of him, but I see in him great potential and possibilities. In one way I'm afraid to finish this book, afraid faith will be trammeled in the end, that it will all end up being a "scientific" marvel, but time will tell.
What changed in Elantris??? That question is killing me.
Ch. 10 I'm impressed with how much character the Seons have, how much I care about a ball of light. I care more for them than many of the other secondary characters.
Ch. 13 This is the chapter I couldn't wait for the GD folks on the writing-in-your-books thread to read. Were you horrified to read about eating the covers?
I have to clean house, teach boys and feed guests, all the while inside I'm screaming, "Will everyone just please go away so I can READ!"
I was thinking, maybe they were gentle with the contents after they removed the covers(don't think about how many were entirely leather/velum or that many probably ate the paper as well)...
A few background paragraphs on why I wrote each character.
When I devised Raoden, I was tired of reading books about characters who all had dark, deep, secret pasts. I was tired of heroes like Batman, who struggled with their inner demons. (This isn’t a permanent dislike, by the way--I actually think heroes like this make for excellent stories. However, this was the mindset I was in when I was developing Raoden.) Raoden came from my desire to write a story about a guy who was defined by the fact that he was an optimist.
In my mind, Raoden is actually a fair bit more real than a lot of characters. He’s not troubled by a dark past, he’s not psychologically disturbed, and he honestly doesn’t have a lot of flaws. I’ve known a surprising number of people like this. Solid, good people who really want to do what is right.
The problem with doing this in a book, however, is that Raoden threatened to come off as ‘larger than life,’ as has been rightly mentioned in this thread. He is almost TOO good (and, some could argue that he is too good.) I wasn’t really trying to say anything by this; I was honestly just trying to write a character unlike previous ones I’d written. (This was my sixth novel, as I believe I’ve mentioned. It was the first one I published, however.) So, I make most of his conflicts external, rather than internal.
Hrathen: (This is for #17 too. Oh, and one thing of interest--I wrote Elantris before I read LIONS of AL-RASSAN, actually. The only Kay I’d read at that point were Tigana, Arbonne, and Fionavar. I was also interested in some of the similarities between Lions and Elantris. Curious. Also, since I wrote this book in 99, the 9/11 similarities are coincidental. Mistborn, however, is post 9/11--and I think you can find a lot of references in that one to what happened.)
Anyway, back to Hrathen. I am LDS (Mormon.) While I’m a little more liberal than most (which isn’t saying all that much) I do believe in the religion, and I did serve a church service mission (in Korea, which has been mentioned) for two years.
Religion is important to me, and interesting to me. I came up with Hrathen’s character while I was serving as a missionary. One of the purposes of fiction, in my mind, is to challenge ourselves and our own beliefs. I prefer to point fingers inward, when I can, since I think this makes for more compelling characters.
Hrathen, then, rose out of my thoughts on fundamentalism, and my worries about what could happen if someone like myself lost sight of reality and got drawn too much into ideology. I wondered what would happen if a missionary began to work to convert not for the good of the people, but for other reasons. I believe it’s important to share one’s beliefs, but it is wrong to force those beliefs on anyone. There are proper mediums for discussing religion, and there are improper ones.
It’s not that interesting, to me, to write a book that tries to convert people to any one belief. It’s far MORE interesting to write a book about fundamentalism gone wrong, when one is--oneself--a devout believer in the importance of religion. And, I think religion used for the wrong reasons is one of the most evil things on the planet.
My desire to write Sarene came from several sources. First off, I have a good friend who is tall, smart, and complains that both have kept her from getting married. (Even still, some seven or eight years after I wrote Elantris.) I used her as a springboard into Sarene’s character.
I wanted someone who could offer a plot line that could bridge between Hrathen and Radoen’s stories. Also, since the other two viewpoints were rather dark and somewhat focused, I wanted to write a character who could be involved in some more lighthearted scenes.
Sarene grew out of several of these feelings, along with my desire to write someone who could be self-motivated about dealing with the actual problems in Arelon. Raoden was trapped, Hrathen trying to bring the country down. I needed someone to work on the political problems in the city.
I’ve got several long essays on Sarene, but I think they might offer too much in the way of spoiler. You can read more in the chapter annotations on my website, though.
#20 tane: I would KILL to have Miyazaki make one of my books into a movie.
We did keep all film rights. (My agent is excellent. It’s because of him that we kept all rights; then he proceeded to sell the book in thirteen languages.) We have talked to film people, but the trick is, I really think that only an Anime could really make Elantris work. It’s too slowly paced for a traditional American film, in my opinion. Mistborn would make a great live-action. Elantris, I think that Miyazaki would be a perfect match.
Getting movies made of books, however, is TOUGH when you don’t have a very big name. We’re working on it, but I think there’s a reason it took decades for there to be a Howl’s Moving Castle movie. Maybe some day. I can dream, right?
#21 clamairy: What a clever, clever idea! I never thought of that!
#27 GeorgiaDawn: I’ll get to work on producing Seons. I never thought of the help they could be in grading papers!
#30 Readafew: The short answer is yes, when I came up with the word Elantris, I liked it partially because it harkened to Atlantis, which I felt might give the right feel for a mythical city. Here’s a clip from my annotations that explains where the name Elantris came from:
You’d be surprised how much can be said about the title of this book. Naming books is one of the most frustrating, and most fulfilling, elements of writing. I’m more fortunate than some authors I know--for most of my books, the names came easily. Sometimes, I even came up with the title before I wrote the book. (This has actually only happened once, when thought up the phrase ‘The Way of Kings,’ and thought ‘Man! That would be a great title for a book!.)
ELANTRIS has had several titles. During the rough draft phase, I simply called it ‘SPIRIT.’ I knew that the main character’s name would be based on the character for Spirit, and that would also be the name he took for himself when he was in exile. I never intended this to be the final title for the manuscript, but it was what I named all the files when I was typing the work.
Well, as I was writing the story, I realized I needed a better title. The most obvious choice was to somehow work in the name of the fallen magical city that was the focus of the book. Now, I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but the city ‘Elantris’ was actually originally named ‘Adonis.’ I’m not sure what I was thinking. Sometimes, when you’re coming up with a lot of fantastical names, you create words that have a certain, unforeseen connotations or connections. In this case, I wasn’t even thinking of the Greek myth. ‘Ado’ was simply the Aon I chose to base the city’s name around, and ‘Adonis’ (Pronounced with a hard ‘A’ and a hard ‘O’) was the word that came out of that Aon.
So, I named the book THE SPIRIT OF ADONIS, hoping to play off of Raoden’s name. I didn’t realize what I’d done until my writing group met for the first time, and they said ‘I like the beginning of the book. I’m having trouble figuring out what this has to do with the Greeks. Is it because the god-like people were so arrogant?’
Then it hit me. Adonis, from Greek mythology, was a beautiful man loved by Aphrodite. The word has become a kind of paradigm for a beautiful--almost perfect--specimen of the male species. And I had unwittingly named my book after him.
Let’s just say I changed that pretty quickly. However, I needed a new name for the city. I played with a number of different combinations of Ado, but somehow ended up trying up different sounds and combinations. Thankfully, I came up with the word ‘Elantris.’ As soon as I wrote it down, I knew this was my city. It sounded grand without being overbearing, and it had a mythological feel to it (harkening slightly to ‘Atlantis’.) I renamed the book ‘THE SPIRIT OF ELANTRIS,’ and proceeded.
Then came time to send out the manuscript. I had had some comments on the book--people liked ‘Elantris,’ but the ‘spirit of’ was less popular. I tried several iterations, and even sent out some query letters calling the book ‘THE LORDS OF ELANTRIS.’ That just felt too cliché fantasy for me, however, and I eventually returned to ‘THE SPIRIT OF ELANTRIS.’
Finally, the book got sold. At this point, my editor (Moshe Feder) suggested that we shorten the title to simply ELANTRIS. Remembering how other people had been unimpressed with the ‘spirit of,’ I agreed. Now that I’ve seen the cover lettering and worked with it as ‘ELANTRIS’ for some time, I’m very pleased with the change. The new title has more zip, and makes the book sound more majestic. I still get to have a reference to my old title, as Part Three of the book is called ‘The Spirit of Elantris.’
Of course, even this title isn’t without its problems. People have trouble spelling it when I say the title, and some think of the car named the ‘Elantra.’ At one panel, I even had one person miss-hear me, thinking the name of the book was ‘The Laundress.’ That would certainly be a different book. . . .
I do admit, I was given fair warning about the names. :)
One of the things that I am very impressed with is the depth of the characters. They come alive in the book. They are well thought out and believable. There are strengths and weaknesses in each one. No one, except maybe Hrathen and Dilaf, seems unapproachable.
#28 darrow - I agree completely with you concerning the description of Elantris. Every time I read about the Elantrians walking the streets I imagine the muck and slime they are walking over. I was thrilled when they started cleaning up areas.
I didn't think at all of Kay while I was reading Elantris, although now I see some similarities looking back. Kay's style is more... fraught. I don't know if that makes any sense. I feel like your style is more down-to-earth.
First three chapters were great. Maybe you don't believe in the "hook" but you sure hooked me. I finished the book in a couple of days and I think I'll order Mistborn while I'm still on my free Amazon prime trial. :)
The Prologue did a great job setting the tone, and letting us know that this was not gonna be about shiny happy people (at least not anymore!)
That opening line GRABBED me, though!
Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity.
How many of you read that, and immediatly thought of another great opening line:
Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic vermin. (There are many varied translations of this line, but you get the idea).
Brandon, was this an intentional nod? it would certainly seem so!
Elantris itself was transformed into a verminous city, and this compelling darkness is fascinating! Kafka meets George Romero, as we get what appears to be the City of The Living Dead!
Dead, it would seem, but not quite zombies, as their humanity ebbs over time, in proportion to their accumulation of never-healing wounds! Hey Brandon, Stephen King would be proud, this is a wonderfully horrific distopia that leaves us wanting more!
Galladon makes for a great foil/mentor/squire for Raoden, he's an enigma, a glimpse at another race who is the antithesis of that race's stereotype! What a brilliant but subtle social subtext!
Then we meet Sarene! No Disney Princess she! She's a great, strong female lead who is uniquely fleshed out as quite a complex, fascinating character! She's a lot of fun to watch develop! Her insecurities are easy to relate to and help humanize her.
What an introduction, too! The first character we meet is doomed, and then in Chapter Two we meet his wife! Talk about twice doomed, she arrives for a wedding and finds herself already married to a corpse! Yikes! I HATE when that happens!
Throughout, the dialogue is very believable, very conversational, and always true to the character design. From page to page I never knew if I was going to gasp or laugh! You really know how to keep a reader off guard, and keep us guessing without guessing correctly! Great job!!!
Hrathen made for a wonderful foil! I initially visualized a red Darth Vader, but SURPRISE Hrathen is sincere in believing he is doing the right thing! He truly believes that using any means to achieve conversion to his faith is justified, as they will be saved - quite literally - from destruction! Convert or die, indeed!
The Seons are a wonderful, wonderful concept! I want one, LOL!!!
The rest of the supporting characters, from the enigmatic Uncle Kiin and Sarene's cousins, to the conspirators, Elantrin gangs, palace characters, Dilaf (!!!) and others are all VERY believably fleshed out. They are great character studies, fine examples of how to populate a story with 3 dimensional, BREATHING beings!
WHAT GREAT FUN!!!
It's a great book, I've just reached Chapter 26 and will be spending the rest of my night reading more - just can't get enough. It's one of those books that you want to get to the end to find out what happens, but at the same time, you don't want it to end!
The religious discussions always interest me. I find peoples beliefs very compelling. And I really enjoy theological debate. (The Name of the Rose is a particular favourite of mine specifically because of all the religious debate). Near the end of chapter 14 in Elantris (of course) Shuden discusses the prevailing religions:
"Keseg taught of unity. But what did he mean? Unity of mind, as my people assume? Unity of love, as your priests claim? Or is it the unity of obedience, as the Derethi believe? In the end, I am left to ponder how mankind managed to complicate such a simple concept"
This is such a wonderfully succinct summation of religious diversity and conflict.
And the unending pain the Elantrians experience is a very powerful image that I find really stays with me. I had a hangnail today and thought what it would be like to just have little things like that - or a papercut, etc that would never heal. Yuck!
It just doesn't FEEl like Arrelon, or Elantris! Sarene doesn't look prperly tall and gangly and Hrathen looks like a Christopher Lee vampire, LOL!!!
Yup, the cover is more sci-fi looking than fantasy! Aren't you glad we're not judging the book by its cover?
It is good to know that the book was written before 9/11; actually I think it's essential to how you interpret it...
And by the way - I don't want a seon. While I liked the concept storywise I think they are some kind of partly hidden surveillance system, intruding on privacy.
Also, I like the cover! But then I'm a "sci-fi type".
>44 BrandonSanderson: I LOVE Miyazaki, but I would really worry about any adaptation. Even Miyazaki stumbles sometimes. Look what he did to Howl's Moving Castle! A lot of Diana Wynne Jones fans were quite put out about that. And that ending! And then he said he was going to do an adaptation of Ursula K. LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea, and then handed it off to his son to do. From what I hear, Ms. LeGuin said she didn't recognize her book.
I think what I enjoyed most about this book was reading about Raoden's reclamation of Elantris. I am a total sucker for "triumph of the human spirit" kind of stories, and I totally believed Raoden as a charismatic figure that could lead the Elantrians into a more purposeful way of life.
And all of the detail that Brandon put into the magic system just blows my mind!! I love the way that everything EVERYTHING ties together. The Aons, the seons, everything. I don't want to say anything else because I don't want to give any spoilers. But it was well-done!
I'm on chapter 50, so I'm afraid to go into detail. I forget where ch 15 leaves off.
I love the characters. Raoden isn't so unbelievable to me, because I actually find I'm a bit like him in that I tend to be sort of "jump in and be happy." And I agree with Brandon--all people don't have major tragic flaws, usually we all have just a few little ones.
I like thinking of Sarene and Raoden as a couple. They would fit well together, except that one has no heartbeat.
I read a LOT of scifi/fantasy, so new names are just part of the territory. I don't mind them. It's fun to see what the next author will come up with. I do especially love the name Elantris. Partly because I love the story of Atlantis, and it reminds me of that. But it also fits the city well.
Thank you, Brandon, for bringing this wonderful book into existence for us to enjoy! :)
hehehehe thats funny! lefty!
As to Sarene, I get what you are saying about the "type" of woman you were going for, but to me that is exactly the problem. She's a little too pat, especially for this old feminist. The issues she deals with are too '50's to be very interesting to me. And in my experience, the idea that men prefer stupid women doesn't really wash.
As to her problems being more about her personality than her being a woman, I did like that aspect of her character. Sometimes people with difficult personalities latch onto things like race, gender or class as an excuse for how others treat or see them, rather than looking at themselves. Sarene seems to do a little of both, which rang true to me.
So, I really like Sarene, so far, and she rings true for me. But I'm OLD... LOL. I've probably experienced more misogyny than you have.
I’ve noticed that every book has flaws that are simply built into it--flaws that are more a part of the nature of the work, and therefore can’t be changed without changing the book into something else. For instance, Elantris simply wouldn’t be the same book if it had imperfect heroes, such as you find in the Mistborn trilogy. Lord of the Rings wouldn’t be the same book if you took out the extreme levels of worldbuilding; however, for some people this becomes a flaw as it slows the pacing to a crawl in places.
I’ve kind of come to see books as having ‘flaws’ and ‘issues.’ Flaws are things that could, and should, have been changed. (There is one of these in Elantris near the end, which I’ll talk about later.) Issues are things that are more stylistic choices. They may have been bad choices, depending on your view, but I don’t think they should be changed.
For instance, the sheer brutality of George R. R. Martin’s work makes his books hard for me to read. I don’t think this is something that should have been changed, however, because that’s part of what makes his books work so well. That style just doesn’t work as well for me as others do.
Does that make sense?
You’ve got it--I used Beowulf as a name inspiration, but that’s it. I actually read through (because I’m always good for a read of Beowulf) and complied a list of names that ‘sounded’ right to me by playing with some of the names in the book. Then, I applied those names to the characters based on how they sounded and ‘felt’ for that particular person. It had nothing to do with the original source inspiration for the name.
#36: Heh. I like the bookmark options. I may have to think about that.
Here’s a link to a larger, early-draft version of the map for the book. It’s got some problems with where things are placed--the mountains aren’t quite right, and the lake isn’t placed exactly in the correct place--but you might be interested in seeing where some of the other countries fit in general relationship.
Just for you wonderful people. I actually never posted this on my site, since it’s not quite as accurate as I’d like. I’m planning to print off an ‘Elantris Omnibus’ type book eventually, however--a compilation of all the annotations and various bonus material in my website, so that people can have it in book form as a reference. This will probably go in there when I do.
Oooh, a Green Dragon exclusive :-) cheers Brandon. I just want to add that I think it's great you've taken time out to answer our questions, and openly share your thoughts and experiences on the whole process of creating and writing Elantris.
I have a further question too, going back to people's talk of the cover... what are your thoughts on it (and, if you like, the whole process of seeing an image put on the front of your pages)? I agree that it seems a bit "scifi" more than fantasy, though I suppose that's because (on the hardback version that I have sat next to me) the city is created using 3D CGI, but I like it nonetheless.
Um... meanwhile, I got two chapters into Elantris.
#56 dressagegrrrl - You are not the only one who likes the cover. I think it's great! It does give the impression of Science Fiction rather than Fantasy. I read more SciFi than Fantasy (yes, I said that in the Green Dragon) so I was drawn to the book partially by the cover.
#66 - Tane, you are so right! Few readers are able to openly discuss a book with the author while reading it. This is a rare opportunity Brandon is giving us. Thanks, Brandon for your time and patience.
I'm loathe to comment too much because I've been reading quite quickly and don't want to inadvertently include spoilers by commenting on something that happens after Chapter 15, but some of my general thoughts include:
I love both Raoden and Sarene. I find them both just fascinating, and I've reacted very strongly to Raoden's struggle to carve out a better life for the people of Elantris. I find it just heartwrenching how he refuses to give into the pain because so many people are counting on him.
I find Hrathen interesting, and I really appreciate how much depth he has, but I don't find him quite as compelling as the other two. I think I'm reacting to Raoden and Sarene on a primarily emotional level, while Hrathen works for me on a more intellectual level. I like the way the text is divided, but at first I found it a bit frustrating that I'd have to take a break from communing with these two characters I loved in order to hang out with someone I was simply somewhat interested in. Things have gotten a bit better as the book progresses, though, and I'm really eager to see how Hrathen proceeds.
I love the little flashes of humour and the witty banter. Stuff like that just kills me.
I'm also over the moon about Uncle Kiin's family. I find them really interesting, and I'm eager to see just why he lives in Arelon now. There are a couple of other little mysteries in the same vein, but I won't say what they are in case I'm including spoilers.
So overall, I'm finding this a fantastic book. I'm eager to read more, and even though I borrowed it from the library I'm sure I'll be getting a personal copy soon.
And Brandon, thank you for your involvement in this thread. It's been great to hear the author's take on the work and to see where some of the inspiration came from.
ETA: and I want a Seon too!
Of course there are exceptions, but as a generalization it is true enough.
I am a straightforward person the way Sarene is, and my only complaint about the character is that neither she nor any of the others can see that her alienation depends on her being a leader, not on her being a woman (who's unmarried). Also I find it disturbing that she really wants to get married, but that is a problem she shares with oh so many people, both male and female.
On covers - fantasy and sf covers almost always puts me off, and I try not to use them as inspiration for buying. I prefer abstract cover art, as on most of Jon C Grimwood's books; then the people and the worlds are left to my imagination. And that's how I like it.
of course we learn to manipulate men. its part of our mystique!
This is really great that Brandon is chatting along with us as we read. Thanks! :D
I do think that a court like Iadon's is very unrealistic, especially considering all women but Sarene seem to lack intelligence, or at least lack any outward signs of intelligence, but it works in this context to make her stand out. I don't know if she could have been so special if there were other women on her level.
And the first sentences for the first three chapters are great too. Brandon definately succeeded made strong introductions for each character. :)
I did want to mention that my local Waldenbooks has Elantris on their "selected fantasy" shelf this week.
Off to read more!
Ok, now I've made it into Chapter 6. I've read it and thought it before, but Hrathen's words to Dilaf resonate again:
"The first step in taking control of a nation, Arteth, is the simplest. You find someone to hate."
That made me think of Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch, Milosevic at that field in Kosovo, etc., etc.
#49 (Toro) and others:
I was a little surprised at the choice of Stephen Martinere as the cover artist.
Link to his site here: http://www.martiniere.com/
I knew him as a sf artist. (He worked on some of the star wars movies as a concept artist). And he has a very science fiction style. I like his use of colors, and think his covers are beautiful, but it wasn’t what I imagined for Elantris.
However, I was very pleased with the way the cover turned out. It might be a tad too sf-like for me, so I’ll agree with that point. However, since I write what is called ‘hard fantasy’ (Fantasy with an eye for science in the magic systems) it does kind of fit, in a way.
Personally, I love how Hrathen looks on the cover, and the Seons are just right. Sarene isn’t perfect, and the city looks too futuristic, but over all I think the cover is very good. It actually won one of the big sf/f cover art awards for 2005.
Still, I can see why some of you have complaints about it. I grew up on the classical Whelan style, posed fantasy epic cover. (Things like Tad Williams covers) and really wanted something like that for my books. I’ve gotten four covers (MB1 and 2, Elantris, and Alcatraz) and have yet to get a cover like that. (Though I do like the covers I’ve gotten.)
He is, legitimately, one of my favorite authors of all time. I hope that his review of Elantris was legitimate (he posted a several paragraph commentary on the book on his website.) My guess is that being LDS gave me a foot in the door, and then having a book he really liked is what got me the quote. Still not sure, though.
#50: You know, I’ve read Kafka a number of times, so I bet that was an unconscious reference. I hadn’t ever noticed it until you make the connection for me, though.
#51: One of the big things I wanted to do in this book was talk through some of my own thoughts, concerns, and ideas about religion. Not in a ‘preach to anyone’ sort of way, but more in a ‘look what I’ve observed’ sort of way. Glad it worked for you!
#52: More on the cover. Have you seen this?
Spanish Cover: (You may have to save a copy to your desktop to resize it.)
Japanese Cover one:
Japanese Cover two:
(The Japanese version was split into two pieces.)
You’re on to Seons a lot more than you may realize. (Not really a spoiler since nothing about this comes out in this book. Maybe in a sequel, though.)
You’re right about the Myaziaki interpretation of Castle. Though, the first half was PERFECT. It’s just when he went off doing his own thing that it got wacky.
However, I’m of the camp that as an author, you can’t expect a film maker to make ‘your’ vision of a book when they make a movie. It’s a different medium, and they’re a different kind of artist. I think it’s legitimate for them to interpret and do what they need to in order to make the story their own for the visual form.
Still, I wish that Howl’s Moving Castle hadn’t transformed to a different movie halfway through. Princess Mononoke is still my favorite of his. I think it’s just plain brilliant. (As for Earth Sea, LeGuin never seems pleased with any of the adaptations anyone does of her work. I haven’t seen this one, though, so I can’t really judge.)
#61: I’ll admit, even as I was writing Sarene, I knew that I was developing someone who was the type to create drama, even if there wasn’t any. You’re right--she does latch on to things and use them as an excuse. I think it’s part of her nature.
Also, I’ve found the ‘men want stupid women’ thing to be a common complaint among women I’ve known--but only the young ones. I’m talking early 20’s here. I haven’t heard it from many of the 30-somethings I know.
I did some cover answers just a bit above. However, in response to your general question, it’s a bit odd to see things I imagine placed on a page by someone else. I’ll admit, I’ve never once looked at an illustration of my work and thought “Wow! I love it!” My first instinct is “But, that’s not how it looks!”
That doesn’t mean I don’t like the covers artistically, or enjoy the interpretation after I get used to it for a bit. I think it’s well near impossible for an illustrator to get something out of my head onto their page.
Thanks for the compliments!
You know, Kiin’s family is something I struggled with including. The fact of the matter is, they’re a little to modern, even for this setting (which, in my mind, is late Renaissance not medieval.)
However, I’m of the camp that I’d rather characters be likable and understandable as opposed to purely and realistically true to the way people in a historical society would have thought. I want to be able to relate. And so, in my books, you get characters who live in cultures that aren’t as advanced as ours technologically, but which are near to our own development socially. That’s just the way I do it.
Kiin’s family was a bit of a stretch, even for me, but I eventually decided to leave them because they fit the book quite well.
# 71: Busifer
You know, I like the abstract covers too. I also like simple ones. Actually, my favorites recently have been the George R R Martin covers. They have a kind of stately coolness to them that rises above the need for a direct illustration.
Wouldn’t work for my books. But, someday maybe I’ll have a series that could have a cover like that.
# 78: Where’s your local Waldenbooks, dulcibelle? I’ll have to make sure to stop in there sometime on book tour.
Whew! Got to get back to my writing. Sorry for not being around all day today. Had a hectic afternoon. I should be able to dip into the other thread later tonight, or maybe tomorrow late afternoon.
And I certainly agree with it mostly being young females who worries about "men don't like..." etc. But the older you get the more you realize that there indeed are structures that makes it difficult being a woman. Iv'e met enough selfcentered worrying males in their early 50's who get a faraway look in their eyes as soon as a woman starts speaking. Most often they are bossing small IT-departments in bigger corporations...
Now when I've turned 40 this are happening less often; it's not only gender, it's age as well.
The need to latch on is human. Everyone who finds his or her self in a situation where we feel ignored or disregarded tries to find an explanation. Some people are more systematically made to feel this way, and those come up as "complaining" or ungrateful.
That said I've met numerous people who use their skin color or gender or disability as an excuse to behave in a bad way, accusing anyone saying anything slightly negative for being a racist or sexist or...
**edited to fix a rather GLARING grammatical error**
I've made it up to chapter 25 and it just gets better and better. I'm starting to like Hrathen a little more than I did at the beginning of the book. He's just trying to complete a task he's been given. Diaf's the one I can't stand though. HE'S the bad guy. What confuses me is that I like all the characters, but Sarene is my least favorite. I usually like characters like her but for some reason she annoys me a little. Though I still like her character and look forward to learning more about her.
Anyway, I started reading Elantris (at the beach in Crete... and one piece of notes I took is somewhere in the Mediterrenean Sea) and I am loving it so far. I finished part one yesterday and as I still have three more days of vacation I'm sure I'll finish it soon. Unless someone drags me out into the sun and "forces" me to do something active :-)
I agree that Dilaf is the bad guy, I find Hrathen very intriguing and can't wait to see where his character is going. There are a lot of very interesting characters and I love the way how it switches between the storylines. And for once the chapters aren't epic length (like in LotR) and I don't have to wait forever until it gets back to the other stories.
So far I like the parts with the noblemen (and Sarene) and the one's with Kiin's family the most, but also everything else is keeping my nose in the book for hours.
I can already tell that this one's a keeper.
I'll say a big thank you to Brandon for joining in here, it's been a pleasure and a unique opportunity to read your thoughts! I look forward to reading and learning more as we proceed through the whole book.
I'm not sure if this has been asked (it's a long thread), but to what extent, if any, are the politics and machinations in the book meant to be taken as referential to current events at all? I always wonder whether an author is looking to make direct political/religious commentary, or just applying themes to a constructed world. I do see some parallels to current events, but that may be me imposing myself upon the story.
Cheers, and now I need to get back to reading, to see how this all works out!
Very much look forward to the answer...
Here are the first 15 chapters:
Chapter Aon Meaning
Prologue Rao Spirit, Essence
1-3 Aon First, Language
4-6 Edo Protection, Safety
7-9 Shao Transform, Change
10-12 Ene Wit, Cleverness
13-15 Dao Gold, Metal
Brandon, Thanks for such a good book! And am I on to anything intentional?
#90 and #91:
You know, I’d like to claim some grand metaphor in the story, but the honest truth is that I simply wanted to tell a story. The best one I could.
Does that mean that politics doesn’t affect my writing? No, of course not. The Mistborn series deals a lot with the concepts of security against freedom--not because I intentionally wanted to say something, but because I was worried about these things. In the same way, religious extremism worries me, and always has. That came out a lot in Elatnris.
Realize, however, the thing I pointed out above. I wrote this in 99-2000, which means 9/11 hadn’t happened yet. I was an undergraduate student, trying to decide what to do with his life, worried that he wouldn’t be able to make it as a writer, and concerned about getting married AND about not really caring if he got married. (I felt both off and on.)
"I do not think it means what you think it means."
Remember that Tolkien forever swore that LOTR was not an allegory for World War 2.
To me, it is one of the cornerstones that in part define who I am - discussion and reflection is a good method to find out what you really think about something.
Accordingly, I think it is essential to be allowed those discussions and their vehicles without being judged to hold a certain view or other.
I ramble a bit here, I know... I just wanted to find out if this was a view you shared :-)
I'll reserve further questions for the other threads as I complete the book......
I placed them in increasing order of complexity. More, I wanted the Aons at the beginning of chapters so that I could reinforce the chapter-triad system, where each set of three chapters cover the same time period. So, I wanted Aons in groups of three to give an indication of this. Increasing complexity seemed to make sense to me, from a linguistic point of view, since that is how Chinese characters are often listed in some of the dictionaries.
It’s odd, but I’ve found that in Chinese and Korean, people start paying a surprisingly small amount of attention to what the characters MEAN in a lot of instances. For example, I’d ask Koreans what their names meant (since each character has a distinct meaning) and they’d look at me funny, then explain that names weren’t usually chosen for meaning. They were chosen (often by grandfathers) because of the number of strokes they contained or other strange patterns. (Some characters came in groups, and if you named your first son a certain character, it was traditional to have another character in the second son’s name. Things like that.)
In my mind, that’s actually what happens with a lot of the Aons. My name has the word ‘Sand’ in it, but I don’t really pay much attention to that, or attribute to myself many of the attributes of sand. In a similar way, I think that people use Aons more traditionally than they do for their meanings. (Though, of course, it isn’t uncommon to look at the meanings either.)
Why say this? Honestly, don’t quite know. I’m a writer; long answers are an occupational hazard to everything I do.
You know, it's odd for me to think about these things with my own works. I have a master's in English, and am trained to dissect literary works and look for hidden meanings. It's a quite different experience when you do it to the work of someone long dead. When I do it to my own work, part of my brain is saying "Look at the rich literary and sociological allusions that fill this text!" The other half of my mind is saying "Ha! I KNEW you were always just making things up, and now I can prove it!"
I guess it comes down to how much we authors actually put in subconsciously. Writing is such a strange process, with your mind making connections at seemingly haphazard and usual times, I often wonder what creeps into my books when I'm not paying strict attention.
He was reading his poems, and took some questions.
One of the questions was "can you explain this part of the poem?"
To which his reply was, "If I could do that, I wouldn't have had to write a poem now, would I?"
What is interesting in Chinese naming systems is that their names actually are chosen for their meanings. Its both astrological (for example, I don't have enough wood in my chart, so my parents would have given me a name with forest or tree in it) and because of lucky meanings (flower, hero, luck, mountain, strong, precious) are all very common names in Chinese. Korean and Japanese may be different, but as far as I know, Chinese name meanings are very important.
Oh, and let me repeat: I loved Elantris. And I just picked up Mistborn and so far I like it even better. So clever!
I don't think I would have picked this book up on my own, mostly because of all the books out there that I've already promised myself I'd read. I've become 'involved' in the lives of the 3 main characters, although it did take a few chapters. The hook for the first three chapters did their jobs and got me interested in finding out more about each person, but I found the characters a little thin to begin with and it wasn't until around chapter 7 that I felt the characters were fleshing out and my interest in them increased.
Except for Hrathen. Right from the start he was 'there', but he is so nasty! I can't like him. He's as bad as the merchants, only concerned with the bottom line, the only difference is his currency is number of people converted. People have different values for him, the nobilitys' souls are worth more, so if he can convert them the peasants' souls don't matter. And the people themselves don't seem to matter to him. With a religion where you strive for "unity of obedience", it seems to be easy to ignore the people's well being.
Hrathen's focus is so narrow and he is so single minded in his goals, he seems to have forgotten why he is trying to achieve them. His methods and the tools (non-Derethi people) he uses are considered unclean. He breaks so many of his own religion's rules. Doesn't he worry about his own soul? I wonder if it really is guilt he feels over the deaths he has caused in converting other countries to the Derethi religion. Hrathen is quite the complex character, and so infuriating!
Oh. Also infuriating is the prologue! To give us a taste of utopia, and then snatch it all away with "Eternity ended ten years ago." I too thought it was a great prologue :o)
And I thought the Elantrian children were bang on. Real life children are like that, more resilient and forgiving than adults, but they can still be pushed too far and damaged. Meeting them was when I really started to feel for the Elantrians.
My thoughts on the characters are mirrored by others here, so I won't say much there. I find all the characters believeable and well-developed. When I first met Dilaf, I thought "televanglist", and I don't mean that in a positive way! Hrathen's complexity as a character was evident to me from the beginning; I knew there had to be more than meets the eye! A character I don't think anyone mentioned is Iadon. I had a tough time getting my mind around him. He's done so many things that aren't good, yet he seems to be efficient and business-like rather than pure evil. I wonder what would have happened to their relationship had Raoden not gone into Elantris.
The setting in Elantris is described so well, it makes my skin crawl! In fact, I found it hard to read some of those sections, which means that they are done very well. The reader is meant to be disturbed, and you certainly succeeded there, Brandon!
Raoden's changes in Elantris left me a little puzzled. It all seemed to happen so fast, to the point that I kept thinking, "This isn't very realistic." I never did quite understand how he managed to convince the Elantrians that they weren't in pain any longer. I think I need to go back and review those parts.
Thanks for the comments, Brandon! This is indeed a rare treat!
It's like this. When I was in tremendous pain from a compressed disk in my back, I realized I felt better when I was walking around and WORKING as a tour guide than sitting around thinking about it. My pain wsa lessened while I was actively working (partly because it just felt better to stand than to sit, granted).
Not too much to add that hasn't already been said. I really like the setting and characters so far. I'm particularly enjoying Raoden and his efforts to make Elantris into a functioning society. I like the other characters and the structure of the book, but I do feel a sense of urgency while I'm reading the other two sections to get back to Raoden.
My only real contribution to the discussion here is in response to post #6. I feel totally the opposite. To me, I found it refreshing that Brandon throws us into this world and in some ways lets us figure things out for ourselves. It is nice to have a few things explained in more detail as we go along, but I enjoy that Brandon isn't holding our hands through every detail that exists in his world. I feel more immersed in the story this way and find myself looking around with a sense of wonder as things are revealed to me. There is no Hitchhikers guide to Elantris presented here and I am thankful for that.
I also want to add my thanks to Brandon for participating in these discussions. It adds a really nice perspective to the discussion to know that you are reading and responding to what we have to say and your insights into your writing process are extremely interesting from a consumers point of view.
One last thing, on the issue of the covers, I do like the cover on the American edition of the book (I do agree on the opinions of it being a little too Sci-Fi, but it's still cool and different from the other stuff out there). However, I did some google image searching (before I got to your handy links) and had already found the Spanish cover. I REALLY like that one the best. It has such a sense of romance, mystery and power that the American version is lacking. Thanks for sharing that and the Japanese versions. They were really cool as well and I think would appeal more to those who are wanting a more abstract look to the book.
On the other side of things, if all you do is sit and wallow in your own misery, surprise, surprise, you're going to be miserable and become even moreso as time passes, because all you're doing is dwelling upon how miserable you are. When the people are taken by the Shaod, they immediately despair and know they're going to be separated from their loved ones and left to rot, literally, in a cesspool and live out their days in pain and despair. This is the only thing they have and the hunger comes from being used to needing to eat and wanting that nourishment. It's like when I was in the hospital. Those who focused on getting well and progress did well as opposed to those whose focus was how much bad luck they'd had and how far they'd fallen from grace. When you stay in one place, it's also just human nature to notice and then nitpick at all these other, small things that you didn't notice before, because they didn't really affect you. But since you've got misery under a microscope, you'll find new reasons for why you're miserable.
I didn’t mean to imply that the meanings weren’t important. Perhaps I stated it incorrectly. It’s that, particularly the Koreans I talked to, they don’t pick them for the meaning of the actual symbol. For instance, I’d say “Oh, Beautiful Forest” is that what your name means. They’d say “No, not really. I have forest because of astrology and beautiful because the number of strokes made it lucky for my family.” So, yes, the meanings ARE important--but not in the way that a Western person thinks, in my experience.
I didn’t worry that you were implying that! I just wonder what people think, sometimes. I read one review online once where someone said they ‘threw the book across the room’ once they realized I was Mormon, since it was indicative of some vast Mormon conspiracy to take over fantasy. (?)
Mr. Card pulls no punches--about that, you’re quite right. He says what’s on his mind, no matter who that might upset. I was actually a little worried about sending him the book, just in case he decided that he didn’t like it, then posted a review to that effect.
Thanks for the compliments! It just got a copy of the Czech cover. Here’s a link to it, for those who are interested:
It’s very fun to see all of these different interpretations. The Czech one is the first one to really try a standard fantasy feel cover, which makes it appealing to me in a purely traditional sense. I really like this interpretation. The Spanish one is good, but it feels maybe just a little TOO over the top for me.
#108 (and some earlier)
Yes, that’s it exactly. I’ll admit, one of the prejudices I have is that I’m, myself, an eternal optimist. There’s a line where Galladon complains about optimists--well, that’s almost verbatim something that I was told once. However, it’s just part of who I am, and so I tend to write books that reinforce such things. Get up, do something. You’ll often find it helps far more than you expect.
Of course, that said, I have several friends who have chronic depression. I know being happy isn’t simply a choice one can make, at least not in many cases. However, my friends were some of those who helped me with this concept in the book. They say that the best thing when they’re feeling depressed is to get out of the house and force themselves to go on with their lives.
I really struggled to get into this, and I'm not quite sure why. If I was a non-finisher, and if it hadn't been so well recomended I may not have got beyond Chap 15
The multiple POV wasn't too distracting. It's not a style I'm that fond of, but with only three it isn't too problematical. I probably wouldn't have noticed they were strictly in order, without the comments in this thread.
I didn't dislike the characters, but I didn't particularly care for them either, and it was just slow to get going, and very slow to explain what was happening.