A review by fenny_42
Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson

5.0

The story takes place ten years after the pristine city Elantris, and its god-like inhabitants–Elantrians–have fallen. Elantris was once the capital of Arelon, and a huge hub of activity, as the Elantrians could perform magic of sorts to heal and feed the people of Arelon. However, one day the shining silvery people of Elantris started losing their white locks, started losing their shine, and started developing black spots on their skin and aches and pains that would never cease. The people of Arelon condemned the Elantrians to stay in Elantris–once a beautiful city, now a large prison. The unfortunate thing about being an Elantrian is that you aren’t born one, you can’t decide to become one–you are instantly transformed into one randomly in the middle of the night. It is uncontrollable and unpredictable, and once you show the telltale signs of darkened skin and hair loss, you get thrown into the guarded city.

This story follows three main points of view. The first is of Arelon’s fallen prince, Raoden, who was taken by the Shaod (the Elantris transformation), and was pronounced dead by his kingly father and thrown secretly into Elantris; the second is of Sarene–a princess from another nation who was the intended wife of Raoden in a political marriage who now finds herself widowed to a man she never met in person; and third, Hrathen, a Shu-Dereth priest, who is sent to Arelon to convert the citizens to Shu-Dereth within 3 months, or face their extermination at the hands of his religion.

The setting and the multiple nations were really interesting to read about. Sarene was brought from her home country of Teod in order to enter a political marriage to Raoden that Hrathen’s religious advances put into jeopardy. Sanderson does a fantastic job of entwining the three points of view and bringing the story together. The separate POVs also allow for some much needed movement for the plot, which is a tad slow in some areas. However, the characterization and relationships between major and minor characters makes up for that. For one novel, an incredible amount of change happens to each character.

Just like Sanderson’s Mistborn series, this book has well developed characters, an interesting magic system (though not as thoroughly discussed as Final Empire’s magic), and a magnetic pull that won’t let you put it down until you finish. Raoden and Sarene were both incredible characters that I loved to watch learn their surroundings and adapt in order to lead. Hrathen was a great character to hate, in a deeper way than just being the “bad guy.” It is honestly surprising that this was Sanderson’s first novel, as it is well written. Although there are some bumps in the pace of the plot, overall, it is a fantastically deep read for how quickly it goes. I would highly recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy, politics, magic, or Brandon Sanderson novels.