Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Elantris = Awesome

I'm not a sci-fi/fantasy junkie, but I'm not an elitist snob either. I hate that so many people look down on the genre, like it's not real literature. I was in a book group once that I made myself quite obnoxious in my defense of science fiction and fantasy. When everybody was talking about their favorite kind of book to read, there were shock waves when I said I probably loved murder mysteries best. Everyone was sure it was science fiction and fantasy that I loved since I was so adamant in its defense. But you won't find me at conventions or role-playing on the weekends.

If you've ever read Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" books, you know what an epic series that is. The plot lines are impossible to keep track of without a glossary, the essential characters numbering in the dozens, and the creation of this fantastical world so detailed and carefully crafted that you start to wonder if it's real. I have a love/hate relationship with his books because reading a new one in the series requires me to either re-read the books or read all the glossaries of all the books. That's work. I'm lazy. They are always worth reading, just intense.

Robert Jordan passed away not too long ago, fulfilling my secret fear that he would die before finishing his series. Well, it happens to be that his widow found someone to finish his series for him when he didn't live to finish it himself. Someone who could grasp his vision and incredible scope. And it happens to be Brandon Sanderson, author of "Elantris", an amazing book I just finished today. Amazing as in the "I can't seem to put this book down and pay attention to what my children are dismantling" kind of amazing. Other than my aversion to learning new vocabulary to read a book, I loved this book. The city of Elantris, once occupied by god-like beings whose powers fed and cured all the surrounding lands is now plagued with disease that no one knows what to do about. Now when someone becomes an Elantrian, instead of becoming a glowing being with amazing powers, their body decays with them still being alive. They get tossed through the city gates without even the door hitting them on the backside on the way out. When the crown prince becomes an Elantrian on the day of his marriage, everything changes. I loved the characters and how much you wanted to see them succeed. I loved the tortured villain and what Sanderson ended up doing with him. I loved the magical element of it and how it was dealt with to cure the sickness of Elantris. I loved that the Princess Sarene was six feet tall and kind of manipulative and obnxious and completely likable. The whole darn book was so good!

One of my favorite aspects of this book is that it's a stand-alone novel. No major epics here. Nothing I will have to wait in anticipation for to finish up a plot line. Ahhh. That's very rare in fantasy novels. I think part of that is that they are creating a whole different culture, planet, physics and sometimes language and that takes quite a few pages to establish. But Sanderson accomplished all that in one book. One fat book, but still just the one. He earned many points with me on that alone.

I'm saying this book is worth reading. Did I get that across effectively? Those of you with no interest in fantasy, I have nothing to say to you. Go read Pride and Prejudice for the fourteenth time or something.


  1. I am so glad you liked this book! Knowing your, ahem, "feelings" about "Wheel of Time", I was thinking about you the whole time I read Elantris, wondering if you would like it.
    I know you said you don't like to read Sci-Fi series, but I'm going to go out on a limb and recommend Brandon's next book: Mistborn. There are only three in the series, so it's not like you have to sign your life away on it. Jason and I just finished reading the first one. Holy Cow! I don't have your gift for words, but this was another one that I could not put down. I'm so excited for the second one to come through my holds list. When it does arrive, I think I'll have to lie and tell Jason I don't have it yet otherwise we'll be fighting over who gets to read it first.

  2. It sounds like an awful lot of work for a book, but if you say it is worth it then I might have to add it to my goodreads list.

  3. I'm sorry you are not speaking to me anymore. . .
    I still love you to pieces in spite of that fact.

  4. I'm sold. Elantris next, then Mistborn. And maybe Pride and Prejudice next.... although Jane's books have been a trial for me. By the way, 'Becoming Jane' was really a nice flick even if I had serious doubts early in the film. Maybe I can get through some of her books now.

  5. I'm glad you have this post up. You told me about it and my poor muddled brain could only recall that it started with an E and that the guy that wrote it is finishing up Wheel of Time. So now I can request it at the library. Ah.