Monthly Archives: August 2010

Review: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Book review of Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris

ElantrisBrandon Sanderson is one of the hottest names in fantasy right now, since he took up the reigns of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series following Jordan’s passing. I’ve already read Mistborn, but I wanted to go back to the start of Sanderson’s fantasy career, and so here I am with Elantris. Elantris came highly recommended to me by the same friend who recommended Tigana a few years back, so I had fairly high hopes for the novel. Elantris is a stand-alone novel, and does a great job of telling a story within one volume.

Elantris takes place mainly in the city of Kae, one of the four outlying cities that surround the city of Elantris. The city of Elantris itself is past its glory days, to say the least. Formerly, all inhabitants of Elantris posessed god-like qualities, coming to individuals who inhabited the surrounding cities in a sudden, transformational process called the Shaod. The novel opens in more recent times, where the Shaod seems to have the complete opposite effect on people: dark, splotchy skin, hair loss, among other various ailments. It is here that Elantris displays a nice social commentary on the effects of various diseases, with the Shaod having some fairly similar qualities to cancer. The magic system in Elantris is similarly as broken as the Shaod: the magic was once controlled by the drawing of symbols, but when drawn now, they hover for a moment in the air, fizzle and die. The city of Elantris itself has even become completely run-down, covered in a thick, slimy grime. It is this bleak scenario that Sanderson paints within the opening pages of Elantris.

The story of Elantris follows three main characters: Raoden, prince of Arelon, Hrathen, high priest of Fjordell, and Sarene, princess of Teod. Royalty and high ranking religious officials can sometimes be tricky characters to pull off; Sanderson does so in Elantris in wonderful form. These are characters that you get to know, feel for, and similar to George R.R. Martin’s work, you’ll occasionally find yourself confused as to who to be rooting for. Absolute quality characterization.

Elantris has similar elements when compared with Mistborn: characters you love, with seemingly unobtainable goals, with undercurrents of justice, truth, and hope. Sanderson is a master of building up what seems like a completely impossible feat, and somehow finding his characters working through it. The idea of a character in a seemingly hopeless situation (in Elantris‘ case characters with a disease that has done everything to kill them but stop them from walking around), but finding hope, and an optimistic view despite all odds is one that I heard refrained in Mistborn,  but again is one that Sanderson accomplishes to a resoundingly satisfying effect.

Sanderson mixes in various elements of truth in Elantris, one that I found particularly familiar being the following:

“We have no slaves in Teod, my lords, and we get along just fine. In fact, not even Fjorden uses a serf-based system anymore. They found something better – they discovered that a man will work much more productively when he works for himself.”

Elantris is chock full of little gems like this one.

Elantris is a fantasy novel that gets it right. It moves quickly, contains vivid characters in situations you can relate to, introduces a truly unique and inventive magic system, and underpins the whole thing with themes of hope. The first 500 pages went by quickly, and the last 100 or so were the most entertaining pages of literature I’ve read in a long time. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if Elantris doesn’t end up on your shelf.

You can purchase Elantris over at Amazon.com.

Fantasy Book News Ratings

  • Overall: 10 out of 10
  • Plot Originality
  • Setting Development
  • Characterization
  • Dialog
  • Pace

Fan Ratings

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Fantasy Blogosphere: August 29, 2010

A pair of reviews of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, accompanied by reviews of books by Brent Weeks, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Chris Northern to kick off this week’s fantasy blogoshpere. Check out the interviews with Brent Weeks, Tracy Hickman, and Terry Brooks, and round out the week with good news regarding the Game of Thrones HBO series and more Guildy goodness!

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, August 28, 2010

Amazon’s top 5 fantasy bestsellers, August 28, 2010: The Return of the Awesome? For the first time in recent memory, the top 5 fantasy bestsellers on amazon.com are not dominated by vampire/teen novels! And it only took the king, the Elvis of fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien to dethrone the fad. Not a bad trio to round out the top three really, with Towers of Midnight holding strong, and Terry Brooks’ latest Shannara novel (Kindle version) rounding out the top 3. I’m so happy I’m not sure what to do with myself now.

  1. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien & Christopher Tolkien
  2. Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  3. Bearers of the Black Staff: Legends of Shannara by Terry Brooks
  4. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
  5. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
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The Guild – Holy Catch Up!

“Never say Old Black Ollie didn’t parlay with progress!”

I can’t believe, with how much I love The Guild, that I totally missed the first 5 (well, 6, with the music video) episodes of Season 4. I guess its been a busy 2010 so far. For those of you who don’t know, The Guild is a hilarious web show for nerds everywhere that comments nicely on the recent popularity of MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. You could watch it for that. Or you could just watch it because its hilarious.

Either way, here are the first five episodes of The Guild, Season 4. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss the bonus music video down at the bottom. Rock on, Guildies.

The Guild, Season 4, Episode 1: Epic Guilt

The Guild, Season 4, Episode 2: Strange Allies

The Guild, Season 4, Episode 3: Oversupportive’d

The Guild, Season 4, Episode 4: Moving On

The Guild, Season 4, Episode 5: Loot Envy

The Guild, Season 4, Music Video: Game On

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Fantasy Blogosphere: August 22, 2010

A couple reviews this week, including The Black Prism by Brent Weeks. Interviews crossing the fantasy blogosphere this week include James Barclay, Terry Brooks, and N.K. Jemison. Check out the exclusive excerpt from The Republic of Thieves over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, and the new UK cover for Joe Abercrombie’s The Heroes. Round out the week with a short interview with Patrick Rothfuss on his love of comics.

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, August 21, 2010

Towers of Midnight vaults into first place this week. Woot! Other notables in the top 25 include Bearers of the Black Staff by Terry Brooks at number 21, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson at number 22, and amazingly A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin comes in at 24, after being published in 1996!

  1. Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  2. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
  3. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  4. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
  5. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
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Fantasy Blogosphere: August 15, 2010

Great reviews crossed the blogosphere this week, from Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay, to The Scarab Path by Adrian Tchaikovsky and others. Check out the interviews with Brent Weeks, Patrick Rothfuss, Ursula K. Le Guin, and James Cameron. Rounding out this week in fantasy blogosphere news is a review of The Eye of the World #4 comic, cover art for the Knife of Dreams eBook, and a desktop wallpaper for Brent Week’s The Black Prism.

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, August 14, 2010

In a week where Charlaine Harris owns three of the top five slots, Towers of Midnight makes a grand entrance in the number three spot. Other notables in the top 25 this week are Bearers of the Black Staff by Terry Brooks coming in at number 20, and Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson barely making the cut at number 25.

  1. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
  2. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  3. Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  4. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
  5. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
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Fantasy Blogosphere: August 8, 2010

Great reviews of Dragon Keeper and Tongues of Serpents this week, followed by interviews with Brent Weeks, Peter V. Brett, Neil Gaiman, Tracy Hickman, and more. A few interesting moves in the eBook industry this week as well. Finally, I can’t believe Neil Gaiman is about to start receiving royalty checks for my favorite comic book hero.

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, August 7, 2010

Janna McMahan debuts in the top 5 at number one, with her novel Calling Home. Charlaine Harris and Stephanie Meyer continue their domination, and Karen Marie Moning has a book swap with Faefever dropping off and Dreamfever added to the top 5 this week.

  1. Calling Home by Janna McMahan
  2. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
  3. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  4. Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning
  5. Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning
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