Synopsis: Sarene, princess of Teod, sails to Arelon to marry their prince, only to find out upon her arrival that he has mysteriously died. Raoden, crown prince of Arelon, wakes up one morning covered the Sheod’s signature black patches of skin and gets thrown in to Elantris. Once a grand city of magic, Elantris now houses the people affected by the Sheod after magic disappeared ten years previously. Hrathen, a high priest of the Shu-Dereth religion has entered Arelon in order to convert the nation and get them to join the Fjordell Empire.
I was totally unsure of how I would like a standalone by Brandon Sanderson because I have only read series from him so far and it was his first book, but I think it was really well done! It was well contained as a standalone and he didn’t try to tackle too much or too little in the book.
Things I Didn’t Love:
- I thought the use of stereotypes was a bit excessive in this book. One character, Galladon, is from Duladen and the stereotypes about what how the Dula people act was just overwhelming. It seemed like it was mentioned way too many times that people from Duladen are optimistic and easy going. I know Brandon has tried to stray away from this his more recent works (specifically Sazed from the Mistborn series), but every time it came up in the book, I got annoyed.
- Sarene, the only female main character, was overly obsessed with marriage and love, in my opinion. Having a character care about that is not bad, but when only the main female character is worrying about that while absolutely none of the male characters care, it rubs me the wrong way.
- I had a hard time keeping all of the noblemen straight. There wasn’t a ton of time to get to know each one, so I definitely got them mixed up at times.
Things I Did Love:
- I thought it was very interesting that the conflict of this book really involves the whole world, but the action only takes place in one city. I feel books often forget the rest of the world and just focus on one area, but this did a good job of incorporating the rest of the world.
- This book was very religious, but the religions weren’t really based on any religions we know of (as far as I know). It was interesting to see a religious conflict without having any preconceived notions about either side.
- I really, really enjoyed the three main characters! I thought they were all in such different positions, so you got to see the conflict from a bunch of angles. I definitely like Hrathen’s chapters the least, but they were still interesting!
- I think the magic was so cool! It doesn’t seem like a super magic-heavy book at first, but it all really comes together in the second half. Speaking of the second half, the ending of this book was so good! It was a typical Brandon Sanderson ending. Everything happened fast, but everything made sense. It was emotional and shocking and I loved it!
If you like Brandon’s other works or you like standalone fantasy novels, I would definitely recommend this book!