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Elantris - Brandon Sanderson 3.75 (just to be fussy)

It has been a long time since I have read a fantasy book aimed at adults, so I feel like I’m coming into a new genre with very little to compare it to yet. The last one was Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, which put me off adult fantasy for what I thought would be life. Yet, over the past couple of years, a strange feeling that I wanted to read more fantasy started to creep up on me.

Elantris is a standalone book (although the author has said he will write another one day) which is what attracted me to it. I didn’t want to start a long, protracted series in case I didn’t like it that much after one or two books.

At first I wasn’t sure. I had all these pre-assumptions about fantasy novels and in a way, Elantris fulfilled these expectations – big evil threatening a kingdom, a wonderful prince, a beautiful princess with a mind of her own and a stupid King. The big evil in Elantris came in the form of a religion trying to take over another religion, either by converting or killing. Weird fantasy cutlery which to me felt inserted just to make the reader realise they were in a fantasy world.

The religions – Korathi and Derethi I felt were ill-formed and merely a plot device to create conflict. They were as meaningful as political parties without any politics to go with them. You had no sense of the religions or how they differed. They were just there to create tension and so felt empty. The political intrigue also felt a little hollow too

Yet despite this, I really enjoyed this book. As it was a standalone I thought Sanderson did a really good job with creating a world and characters that were believable. He didn’t try to squeeze too much into one book to compensate for not building a world up over a series of books. It had a certain generic familiarity which worked well. Sanderson is definitely a good writer who is able to write a captivating story, with characters you want to know more about.

The second novel Sanderson promised is not to be a direct sequel, but rather to follow more secondary characters. The world definitely has room for expansion. Elantris was by far more character and plot based, rather then building up a whole fantasy setting.

I’m looking forward now to reading his Mistborn series, which I have read many good reviews about. Seeing as Elantris is Sanderson’s first published novel, I’m expecting Mistborn to be even better.