April 19, 2007


If you're up for a new book, are not intimidated by 600 pages of dense material, and like science fiction/fantasy, you should rush out and get a copy of Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. It was selected as a group read at Library Thing (discussion of Chapters 1-15 here and Chapters 16-30 here). One of the advantages of the discussions is that the author is enthusiastically joining the conversation.

I picked up a copy at the local used book emporium and read it yesterday. It's a first novel (first published, anyway; Sanderson has been writing for a long time and in fact has a new book out entitled Mistborn).

The thesis is simple. A city formerly ruled by an enlightened close-to-Godlike people has mysteriously died and is now inhabited by victims of a horrific affliction which causes their hearts to stop beating, all bodily pain to become permanent, and an inability to die. This event was called the Shaod, or Transformation. Originally it had signified the assumption of the traits and characteristics of the Elantrians by ordinary mortals, but something went wrong. From the Prologue:

It struck randomly -- usually at night, during the mysterious hours when life slowed to rest. The Shaod could take beggar, craftsman, nobleman, or warrior. When it came, the fortunate person's life ended and began anew; he would discard his old, mundane existence, and move to Elantris. Elantris, where he could rule in bliss, rule in wisdom, and be worshipped for eternity.

Eternity ended ten years ago.

The crown prince of the kingdom (Arelon) just outside Elantris suddenly undergoes the newly-awful Shaod on the verge of his politically-useful marriage to a princess from a distant kingdom. Within several days, she arrives in Arelon to learn that she's a widow before she's ever been married, and that by contractual law she assumes all rights and privileges of her former/never-met husband. At the same time, an emissary from a kingdom a long way off arrives in Arelon, intending to convert the population to subjugation to his king through the use of religion rather than force of arms.

It's a ripping good read, with great characters, enough magic to grab you but not enough to annoy you, and a heroic Quest with many twists and turns. I really enjoyed it.

Posted by Linkmeister at April 19, 2007 09:39 AM | TrackBack