Chat about... Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
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Discuss it all here! Spoilers abound, enter at your own risk...
My review (here) is:
An interesting read.
Up to 10 years ago Elantris was paradise, a beautiful city where the people were chosen by chance and something called the Shoad, which struck some people of Arelon suddenly and transformed them into beings with power, that glowed and who could perform miracles and who lived in Elantris. 10 years ago something happened and this stopped, the Elantrians lost their light, their power and their control of the area.
Now Raoden, the crown prince is missing, taken by the Shaod, what is said about him is that he's dead. Sarene has travelled to become his wife from another kingdom, and finds herself his widow because of his death and finds herself in a foreign world that is still in transit from one way of governance to another and still working out the problems and issues.
Then there's Hrathen, high priest of Fjordell trying to spread the religion of Fjordell by conversion or the sword.
It's compex, entralling and very readable. It does have flaws but they're forgivable in the overall enjoyment.
Overall I liked it. Hrathen was the most intriguing character, the others more typical. There was a first-novel feel to it, and the ending felt rushed to me, but this book hooked me on the author and I wasn't disappointed. I went on to read the Mistborn trilogy, which I thought was definitely an improvement. Still have Warbreaker on the TBR pile. Not sure I can work up the enthusiasm for his Way of Kings though; I'll have to keep watching the reviews on that series as it's published.
Very impressed with the feedback he's receiving on his WOT continuation. That was the gamble of a lifetime that could have made/broken his career, and he made it.
I have been ruined by Lois McMaster Bujold and George RR Martin. I now expect all of the characters I read about to be complex people with subconscious motivations that even they are not aware of. Instead I got a Messiah, a Tom Boy Who Doesn't Realise How Beautiful She Is and a few different RagTag Bunch of Misfits groups. I think Hrathen was meant to be complex and edgy but.... no. No. He arrives conflicted about his religion, has a quick epiphany because zOMG the princess is soooo amazing and promptly dies so he never has to deal with the fallout of his decision. That's straight out of "The David Eddings Handbook For Totally Complex Character Design" *rolls her eyes*
The one character I was actually intrigued by was Karata, the gang leader who gathered the children and Hoed together and cared for them. She wasn't a noble or a warrior - she was a nurse. And when she was taken by the Raod, she didn't give in to despair or lose her ideals - she fought her way to the top and then took care of the most vulnerable. She actually started what Raoden finished. And then she got her head chopped off *sigh*
Despite the rant above, I didn't dislike this book. It just irritated me that the author took the well-worn path instead of the one less travelled.
That said there were a few things that struck me as a bit off.
For example, there were a lot of fantasy-babble names. Strange names, languages, spells, gods etc. Of course they are necessary to some extent, but the near constant string of words like kulu, reo,aon, shu-dereth etc, got a bit tiring.
I also thought the ending overall was a bit too "action-packed". Constantly switching perspectives, jumping from person to person and city to city. Desperate last stands, followed by unexpected rescues, followed by sudden counter-attacks, followed by even more unexpected rescues. Also the sudden return of the magic was a bit too trite.
All that said I did enjoy it. Though I had to smile as we read about seemingly randomly chosen people who once had access to magical, fantastical abilites which made them near godlike. People who are suddenly stuck down with a strange degenerative affliction. These poor few are seperated from society and hated. Their magics become unpredictable and their lives are a living hell as they watch their bodies and minds slowly betryaing them. Yeah... this guy should be right at home writing the Wheel of Time series.
I find that often fantasy books which are long and spend ages drawing out the main problems often seem to end in a huge rush with a climactic but brief battle scene. I don't like rushed endings, and this one felt rushed, especially the return of magic (give how bloody long it took him to figure out what was wrong - oh hey, let me just draw this line in a sand while my friends get stabbed and suddenly MAGIC and everyone's ok again...except Karata). Everyone has a sudden revelation or reveals their secret, people fight, and then they all live happily ever after despite a completely wrecked and ravaged society and the fact that Derethi religion still controls almost all the world.
Still, I really enjoyed the book. It certainly kept me reading. I liked how Raoden and Sarene ended up having a chance to get to know each other in a vaguely normal manner despite their arranged marriage. I liked Hrathen, though I started to worry he was going to die in a very cliche manner, which is exactly what happened. It almost reads to me as if this were a book that was written following the plot of a movie because a lot of the drama of it has a very cinematic feel more than a literary one.
One thing that always made me really curious was the Seons - maybe I missed it, but I don't really understand what they are or how they were created. It seemed to have something to do with the magic, but I found the bit about how they have to serve you, even if they don't like you, and that apparently makes them happy, a bit disturbing and unintelligible. It was a really long book, so perhaps I just didn't follow everything to do with the Seons very well.
Is this instead of Jackson or in addition to? And/or Pym, Baldrick, a pack pony, a sherpa...
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