Discovering (and Loving!) My First Brandon Sanderson Novel: Elantris

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson Review.pngI think anyone reading this post will agree that we all read a lot of books. The difficulty comes when there are SO MANY AMAZING BOOKS TO CHOOSE FROM!

There are some authors that you hear about, again and again, tagged along with endless superlatives, and yet somehow never get around to reading despite your best efforts.

Brandon Sanderson has always been one of those authors for me.

I’m a huge high fantasy fan and Sanderson’s work has been recommended to me since I started blogging 6 years ago. After seeing so many glowing reviews for a variety of his novels, I purchased Elantris because it was a stand-alone and I had far too many series on the go at the time.  Afterward, I was told that it wasn’t the best of his works to start with, and so there it sat on my shelves for, you guessed it, 6 years. HOWS THAT FOR PROCRASTINATION?!?

Fast forward to 2019 Becky tackling her backlist, and all I can say is that if this isn’t one of Brandon Sanderson’s best, I can’t WAIT to dive into to all his other books, because I enjoyed this immensely!

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BLURB

ELANTRIS WAS A PLACE OF GLORY. The capital of Arelon, the home to people transformed into magic-using demigods by the Shaod.
But then the magic failed, Elantris started to rot, and its inhabitants turned into powerless wrecks.
And in the new capital, Kae, close enough to Elantris for everyone to be reminded of what they have lost, a princess arrives. Sarene is to be married to unite Teod and Arelon against the religious imperialists of Fjordell. But she is told that Raoden, her husband to be, is dead.
Determined to carry on the fight for Teod and Arelon’s freedom, Sarene clashes with the high priest Hrathen. If Hrathen can persuade the populace to convert, Fjordell will reign supreme.
But there are secrets in Elantris, the dead and the ruined may yet have a role to play in this new world. Magic lives.
 

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PLOT

I really enjoyed the plot of Elantris; its fantasy world you can get a foothold in quickly, and settle in for the ride.

It follows three different character perspectives (but in the third person) and I enjoyed all of them immensely.

First, we have Raoden, Prince of Arelon who wakes up discovering that the Shaod has come upon him, (which is basically a kind of supernatural plague that appears overnight with seemingly no rhyme or reason, and does not discriminate between nobleman or peasant). The disease means you’re exiled into the once beautiful and godly city of Elantris, which is now filled with sludge, crime, and rival gangs.

Next, we have Sarene, a princess from another city on her way to be wed to Raoden. When she steps off the ship, she receives news that he’s ‘died’, but that according to her wedding contract (based solely on political alliances) this makes them married. Sarene loves politics and is determined to learn the ins and outs of her new city and help strengthen its crumbling walls and disliked king.

Finally, we have Hrathen a morally grey priest sent to convert the city to his religion, even if it means toppling the monarchy or resulting to mass murder in the process.

WORLDBUILDING

The worldbuilding in this novel is excellent. Sanderson has created a fantasy world with different religions, cultures and political climates. Arelon, where we spend most of the book, for example, has a hierarchy based on wealth. The King is the most well off merchant in the city and if you lose your wealth, you lose your title.
Arelon itself is a fascinating place because it lives in the shadow of the city Elantris. Elantris once used to be home to God-like humans that glowed and used magic. Then one day, the Elantrians not only lost their power but it was replaced with a disease that caused blisters, unimaginable pain and the inability to die. The people of Arelon are both fascinated and terrified by the Elantris mystery, forever worried that they will succumb to the disease. The history of Elantris is slowly unraveled piece by piece in an immensely satisfying way that made the pages fly by.

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PACING

Elantris is 615 pages long, and while I did feel that it could have been a tiny bit shorter, I didn’t once feel bored. It’s slower paced than your average fantasy, mostly because it is very much a political intrigue story; all chess moves, sly conversations and thinking three steps ahead. However, while there wasn’t much action until the finale, I felt that every chapter was there for a reason, every part of the story propelled the characters and central mystery forward, and I was fascinated every step of the way.

CHARACTERS

I absolutely loved all the characters in Elantris and was very much concerned for their fate as the novel came to a close. I was invested whether their roles were big or small.
Raoden the Prince banished to Elantris tries to make the best out of a bad situation by gaining friends and allies. He helps the lost and damned with his inspiring charisma, gives people meaning and purpose and starts to unravel the secrets of Elantris, even to his own detriment.
Sarene is a TOTAL BADASS and a very intellectually strong female protagonist. She’s too tall for a ‘normal lady’, average looking, brash, outspoken and absolutely adores politics. She’s definitely a little arrogant too and very good at ordering people around, but her heart is in the right place and she’s fiercely loyal to her friends and the countries that she represents. Her schemes and plans also outwit most of the men in the court!
Hrathen initially seemed like he would be an annoying character and a religious fanatic, but he soon becomes far more interesting and morally complex as his past is revealed. He kept me guessing right up until the end and I had to admire his sneakiness!

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FINAL THOUGHTS

I really cannot express enough how much I enjoyed Elantris. I raced through the pages gobbling up each chapter. I don’t even really have any critiques of it and it fell just shy of a 5-star read for me. I don’t think this story will appeal to everyone though because it’s very much a political fantasy as opposed to an action-packed one, so that’s something to bear in mind! I can’t wait to try out more Brandon Sanderson novels, and I think this is the start of an excellent long-term relationship with a new author. 😉

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Overall Impression: 4/5
Writing Style 4/5
Originality 4/5
Entertainment 5/5
Character Development 5/5

Would I recommend this book? Definitely!

 

Lets chat
What authors have you had recommended to you multiple times and yet somehow never get around to reading?
Have you read any Brandon Sanderson? If so, which of his novels would you recommend I try next?!

26 thoughts on “Discovering (and Loving!) My First Brandon Sanderson Novel: Elantris

    • That was exactly the same for me, too! I also have a hugeeeee backlist that I am currently trying to tackle, and it’s a constant struggle balancing coveting new releases and reading older novels that are probably just as awesome. 🙂
      I’m kinda gutted that it took me so long to read this one because it was SO GOOD. I would definitely recommend giving Sanderson a shot!
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. 🙂

      • Ugh…I know, eh? My goal is to read at least 5 books I currently own that I haven’t read before I get ANY other books. I actually think I’m going to count how many books I own that I haven’t read…might help me put that into perspective more lmao!

        When I finish some of mine, I’m definitely going to pick up a Sanderson book!

        Thank you for the informative post!

      • That’s a great way of managing your backlist! I’ve been doing something quite similar in terms of my reading – for every new release I allow myself to read, I pick up a minimum of 2 backlist books next. Counting how many unread books you have is definitely a good motivator! Especially when you work out based on your monthly book average how long they will take you to read. 😉
        I’m actually planning on doing a blog post soon about strategies for tackling book backlists, and I’m hoping they’ll be lots of recommendations from the comments!

  1. Your positive review makes me hopeful for when I get around to Sanderson’s books. They’ve been on my shelves for a while now. I have a nice boxed set of the Mistborn trilogy.

    • I I’m so glad this review made you feel positive about the author! think I’ll be tackling the Mistborn series next, Ive already got it earmarked for my next book purchase (when I decide I’m allowed a treat 😁). Your boxed set sounds gorgeous! I hope you really enjoy it when you get around to reading it!

  2. I really, REALLY want to try Brandon Sanderson books and I am so glad you enjoyed it so much. I love fantasy and I am definitely interested in the political take on it. And Hrathen — I like that he kept you guessing and was sneaky– I like characters that surprise you.
    Brandon Sanderson just got bumped up to the top of my TBR now.
    Also I love the cover 😍 I wish green was used more for books it’s one of my favourite 😂

    • Before I wrote this post I didn’t realise there were so many other people who had also been meaning to read a Sanderson novel for the longest time, I feel like we should all get together and do a buddy read! 🤣
      I’m so happy to hear you’ve bumped him up on your TBR pile based on this post, this makes SO very happy and like I’ve done my reviewing job well. 😁 😁
      I love sneaky characters too! It’s so much more interesting when the antagonists have complex motivations for their views rather than just being ‘purely evil’.
      I actually really adore all the modern Sanderson covers! I love books that are white and simplistic yet effective, and all of his book are white with grey illustration and a splash of colour which is so striking! I agree that green should be used more often on book covers!

      • I know— I don’t know why I haven’t gotten to them yet 😂 yes a giant buddy read would be fun!! 😂
        Yes I am looking forward to reading his books and you have done your job at reviewing very well 😁
        Yes they are super interesting to read about– give me complex characters!!
        I know they look SO good and I love that they are have the same style. I definitely think they are simplistic and effective. I just want to hold them all now 😂😂
        Yes go green!!!! 😂

  3. Fantastic review Becky! I really want to read Brandon Sanderson’s works too, but they seem to be connected to one another… maybe because their cover is similar? 😀 This one sounds fantastic and it’s rare to find a stand alone high fantasy, I’m intrigued!

    • Thanks so much, Tasya, I’m really glad you enjoyed it! Sometimes it’s really difficult to summarise high fantasy in reviews!
      I get exactly what you mean, it’s daunting when there are so many books in a series that are linked because it feels like taking on a big commitment. That’s one of the reasons I picked Elantris because it didn’t seem to be linked to any of his other books so I felt it would be a good starting point. 🙂 A lot of the covers are done in the same style as you say, so they do look like one big series (My understanding is some are linked and some aren’t, but I need to look into it more!)

  4. ahhh i’m so happy to see that you tried a brandson sanderson book and YOU ENJOYED IT!!! i’m a big fan of sanderson (even though i’ve only read the mistborn trilogy and im listening to the 4th book atm) but his worlds and writing and magic systems are SO COOL and unique. i definitely want to venture more into his other series but i keep putting them off bc they arent finished yet lol (you should TOTALLY check out mistborn, it’s sooooo good my goodness the tears it has made me shed)

    awesome review, you’re always so thorough and detailed. ❤

    • Thank you! 😀 I have heard quite a lot of good things about the Mistborn trilogy, so thank you for confirming that it would be a good one to check out! I think I will definitely give that one a go next based on your recommendation. I really nerd out when it comes to different, complex or interesting magical systems so that sounds exactly like my sort of thing! 😀

      Thank you so much, I’m really glad you enjoyed reading it. THIS COMMENT MADE MY DAY. 😀

  5. Oooh I’m so intrigued. I’m especially looking forward to Elantris because it’s a standalone. This review is awesome! I’m pushing Elantris up my TBR now. Thanks for sharing 🙂 🙂

  6. I haven’t read anything by Brandon Sanderson so far, despite the fact that his books have been so hyped and all over the place in the book community, as well. I’m so, so happy to hear you enjoyed your first book by this author, your review was so fantastic to read! It’s so impressive to see that, despite the book length, you didn’t get bored once, too 🙂 I might have to give his works a try someday 🙂

    • I know, right?! This guy gets EVERYWHERE.
      Thank you so much, I’m really glad you enjoyed the review because I always find it difficult to summarise high fantasy books! This comment made my day! 😃 😃😃
      On the basis of this book, I would definitely recommend giving it a go!

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