Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.
Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.
But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.
First of all, this was a long book. Realllllllyyy long. It took me a while to get through it but I’m glad I did.
What I look for in a book is quality and believability in the way characters behave and the way the world works. Does everything make sense? Do people make believable choices? Are there major plot holes? That’s what I look for. Elantris completely passed those three tests.
Sarene was so fun. I loved her attitude, her thought process, her ingenuity. I loved that she couldn’t help but be herself… well, most of the time, anyway. She knew who she was, what she wanted and how to go about getting what she wanted. The things she did really were clever and highly entertaining. I laughed aloud a few times.
Raoden was the epitome of just a nice, decent, intelligent man. I liked his natural leadership, his desire to hide his royal affiliation and his general good-ness. He was just a good guy, you know. Actually, maybe he was a little bit too good, too noble. Sometimes the narration would try to show how the strain of leadership and the Shaod were wearing him down but I almost felt like the effort was half-hearted. It’s like the author was trying to say, “Every character needs to have flaws to be believable and since I can’t think of a natural flaw for Raoden I’ll create this fixable flaw so when all is said and done he’ll be perfect again.” But I did like him.
I enjoyed all the political intrigue and religious undertones. Hrathen, the priest, was believable in the creepiest sort of way. I absolutely understood him. Which worries me a little since he was a bit messed-up in the head. His character evolution was fascinating to read about, though. His thought process and how he ended up thinking the way he did was very well done and I enjoyed reading it.
I loved that all the characters had depth; There were no flat people.
The world that Sanderson created was unlike any fantasy I’d read before. When I think fantasy, I think dragons and long treks over mountains, through forests, and crazy magicians and what-not. This wasn’t. The only fantasy-like element was the fact that random people were transformed overnight from regular people to some magical better, prettier version of themselves. That was the fantasy part. It was very different from the fantasy I’m used to. And I liked that. Different is good. And the world was very interesting.
There was a lot of detail–it was a huge book, after all–and so many hints were dropped without sounding like hints. You know what I mean? It was the kind of thing where something would be mentioned very briefly then brought up later as the solution without being completely obvious. I appreciate that in a story. It adds depth. The twists took me by surprise most of the time, which I also appreciate. All in all, it was a good read although I’m not sure I’ll read it again because it was just reeeeeeally looooong.
Sexual Content: mild to none (I don’t exactly remember but I’m sure there was nothing more than a little bit of kissing, if even)
Drugs/Alcohol: mild (adults drinking champagne or wine in social settings)
Violence: moderate (some fighting, scenes of bloodshed, but nothing overly graphic)