puffbird (puffbird) wrote in flying_lemmings,

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Book Review: Elantris

I haven't seen anyone tossing lemmings here in a while... and since I proposed the last book (in October?? How embarrassing...) I figured I should post a review and prod the community to see if anyone's watching.

I sometimes have these reading dry spells that go on for weeks. I don't really know what causes them (stress may be a factor)... but I think part of the problem is I can't find books that hold my interest. I've become more... selective? demanding?... about my reading material lately. If a book doesn't hold my interest, I don't have the desire to invest the time. I'm still reading Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, but I set it aside because I just haven't had a lot of reading time. And when I did have time, I wanted fiction.

So instead I thought I would post a review of my latest read:

Title: Elantris
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Score: 4 Lemmings

This book has been on my shelf for a while... we bought it for me to read at the hospital this summer, but I was in no condition to concentrate on a book. I finally picked it up a couple weeks ago. It was slow going at first, but I read the last half of the book in a day.

Elantris is a city of immortals. Beautiful, luminous, powerful. And anyone in the surrounding lands had a chance to become one. A person would just wake up changed one day, and then would move to wonderful Elantris. Then something happened, and Elantris turned dark, and all its people fell into misery. They were still immortal, but no longer beautiful; all their powers were gone, and their existence was full of pain. People would still succumb to the Shaod (as they call it) and become Elantrians, but now it was a falling and a curse.

The book starts when the crown prince wakes up one morning -- just before he is to meet and marry his betrothed -- and finds that overnight he has undergone the change. He is thrown without ceremony into Elantris, city of the fallen.

His betrothed arrives from overseas to meet and marry her new husband... only to find that he is dead, and she is already a widow (by provision of her betrothal/marriage contract)... and the details of his death are sketchy at best. She suspects assassination, and starts investigating what really happened to her husband... and also starts political battle with a newly-arrived monk from a violent sect bent on world domination.

A heroine who is willful, opinionated, intelligent, intimidating, politically savvy... and a hero, who, though he has fallen to the lowest of the low, only wants to make life better for the people around him. I fell in love with them both.

Many of the story's elements were predictable, but there were many surprises as well. They say there's no new plot under the sun, and they're right... it's how the writer uses the tropes that makes it interesting. So even though I was expecting certain plot points, it didn't bother me at all. The ending wrapped up enough of the story to be satisfying, though it definitely left it open for sequels. I won't spoil things by explaining... but let's just say that it raised a couple MAJOR questions for which I'm very interested in seeing resolutions.

For a first novel, this impressed me. Very much. Four lemmings.
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