Author: Brandon Sanderson
Goodreads Rating: 4.17
“To live is to have worries and uncertainties. Keep them inside, and they will destroy you for certain–leaving behind a person so callused that emotion can find no root in his heart.”
Elantris used to be a beautiful city filled with god-like individuals capable of amazing magical abilities. Anyone could become an Elantrian through a mysterious transformation process called the Shaod. Elantrians were respected and loved by the surrounding townspeople who relied on them for food, healing, and wisdom. That was ten years ago. Now, we follow our main characters as they deal with life’s challenges following the fall of Elantris glory.
Interesting magic system
The Elantrians were capable of using a magic system called AonDor. It involves drawing highly detailed symbols to activate different types of abilities from healing to transportation. AonDor has one major limitation… If you don’t draw the symbols exactly as they are supposed to look, they won’t work. On top of this restriction, AonDor has not been functioning properly since the fall of Elantris. This prevents the magic system from being completely overpowered.
One of the character arcs
To make sure I don’t include any spoilers, I’m not going to name the character who I think had the best character arc. With that in mind, this character had an intense moment of realization which completely changed this character’s personal journey. It was unexpected and fantastic.
Strong ending that sets it up for a series
Sanderson is known for his epic endings and Elantris provides just that. The last 50 pages will keep you on the edge of your seat. Along with the phenomenal ending, some questions have not been answered by the end of the book which sets it up for a potential sequel or series. Sanderson does plan on writing another Elantris book in the future.
Pacing was a bit off…
At times, the plot pacing was a bit too slow and took too much time in a particular setting. At other times, it moved way too quickly and involved plot conveniences. Why did a particular character show up out of nowhere with the answer that was needed? How did a character know exactly where to go in order to discover something essential? Who knows… because there’s no obvious answer to some of the things that happened in order to keep the story moving.
Clunky character moments
At times when characters were having conversations or realizations, Sanderson added in explanations or clarifications in order to make sure the reader understood exactly what was said or discovered. It felt clunky and Sanderson’s writing style in his other books is much smoother in comparison.
Characters were a bit shallow and stereotypical
One of my least favorite tropes happened in this book… where the woman in a relationship frequently asks or thinks about the man and yet the man never seems to mention the woman. It’s frustrating and unnecessary.
On top of this issue, the main characters’ personalities in Elantris were a bit more shallow compared to Sanderson’s characters in other books who have deeper, more complex personalities. Because of this issue, the character arcs were somewhat lacking in Elantris. I liked the characters in the book… but there wasn’t much of an onion to peel back.
I’m a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere books. From shirts to necklaces, stickers to leatherbounds, I have a serious collection of Cosmere goodies. With that in mind, I was a bit harder on Elantris with the understanding that this was Sanderson’s first Cosmere book and his writing style has improved since 2005.
I would highly recommend all of the Cosmere books to any fantasy fan. If you’re thinking about reading Sanderson’s Cosmere books, Elantris is a decent book to get you started. However if you are prepared to commit to a trilogy, I think Mistborn Era 1 is the better starting point.