Countless eons ago (in internet time), I won a book from Fyrefly’s book blog: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. This was my very first book giveaway win – I was so excited! I read it all in one gulp. Recently, I finished The Way of Kings by this same virtuoso of a writer. Again, I stayed up almost every night to get through huge chunks of that behemoth of a book. I almost KO’d myself by the last night. It would have been an epic finale to the reading experience.
Since Words of Radiance isn’t out in paperback, yet, I’ve had to hold off my cravings. To appease myself, I picked up Elantris, instead. Elantris is Brandon Sanderson’s first published novel and it is a giant of a story in a stand alone book format that sits at around 650 pages/250k words. The premise of the story is that a legendary walled city of the gods – Elantris – has fallen from some unknown cause. Once upon a time, a person could wake up one morning and find themselves transformed into one of the Elantrian gods, equipped with powers to draw magical symbols in the air – Aons – to perform miraculous feats. Now, a person could wake up one morning to find themself transformed into a diseased-looking, hairless creature whose heart has stopped beating. Elantris has become a dumping ground for these unfortunates. Droves of them wander the streets where once the gods roamed. There are many edge-of-your-seat subplots but the crux of the story centers around figuring out what has stymied Elantris’ power and whether it can be returned.
Brandon Sanderson writes very clever plots and this first of his published novels showcases a taste of the greater talent to come. I went in knowing that a Brandon Sanderson book will have obsessive world-building and multi-faceted characters. Elantris ticks off all those items on that checklist. It’s nice to feel like you can rely on an author to deliver the goods. My favorite character pair was Raoden and Galladon because of the way they complement each other. Raoden is a highly optimistic and full-of-ideas kind of guy whereas Galladon is a crusty, skeptical and world-wearied old man. I grinned a whole lot reading those parts of the story. At some point, I spoiled one of the book’s epic reveal moments for myself because I was listening to Writing Excuses and Brandon Sanderson happened to blurt it out. I wasn’t too worried, however, because I knew the guy surely had many more aces up his sleeve. And lo and behold, he did! Have any of you seen The Departed? I watched it one morning before going to my first class and had to pause it with 10 mins left of the movie to go. I figured, nothing much could happen. I was wrong. The same goes for Elantris. It’s gonna be a machine gun ending. Except without any bullets.
If you want to learn how to master first lines in a story, drop by the book store or library and flip open a Brandon Sanderson novel. Here’s the first line of Elantris: “Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity.” Try going home without wondering why Raoden might be damned for all eternity.
Rating: 4.5 bowls of Hraggish weed soup!