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Monday, 20 February 2017
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!
ELANTRIS WAS A PLACE OF GLORY
The capital of Arelon, the home to people transformed into magic-using demigods by the Shaod.
But then the magic failed, Elantris started to rot, and its inhabitants turned into powerless wrecks.
And in the new capital, Kae, close enough to Elantris for everyone to be reminded of what they have lost, a princess arrives. Sarene is to be married to unite Teod and Arelon against the religious imperialists of Fjordell. But she is told that Raoden, her husband to be, is dead.
Determined to carry on the fight for Teod and Arelon's freedom, Sarene clashes with the high priest Hrathen. If Hrathen can persuade the populace to convert, Fjordell will reign supreme.
But there are secrets in Elantris, the dead and the ruined may yet have a role to play in this new world. Magic lives.
So, I've been curious about Brandon Sandersons books. I've read The Final Empire and completely loved it, I seriously need to finish the series! But I hadn't read any other books by him and everyone raves about him so much so I jumped at the chance to review the 10th anniversary edition of Elantris. Little did I know it was going to become one of my all time favourite books. Seriously. I loved this book SO much, it's ridiculous and it's left me with a burning need to grab all of his other books and hole up for weeks until I've read everything!
The prologue is short but sweet, piquing your interest and sucking you in, followed by one of the best opening lines I've come across. "Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity." It was from that point on that I was totally hooked and found it impossible to put the book down. I read this in a couple of sittings, and I actually had to force myself to put the book down at 4am one time so I could get a few hours of sleep! I'd completely lost track of time because I was so focused on the book, completely lost in the world and the plot.
The world of Elantris is cinematic, the settings rise up in vivid and often gritty and grim detail to surround you. You find yourself walking the same streets as the characters, observing the scenes as another spectator. I loved how rich and vivid the world was, even when it was the rather grimmer aspects. The world really came to life, as did its people, and the atmosphere to the book also really helped to bring it to life. You find yourself completely immersed in the world, picturing everything perfectly!
Raoden. He surprised me immediately. I was kind of expecting him to be a big, pampered baby, but he was completely badass in his own way. He never gave up, he gave everyone hope and kept everyone going and he was super intelligent. He did after all, solve the giantly huge mystery no-one else wanted to touch with a barge pole. He was so determined, it was inspiring. I loved how he kept referring to Sarene as his wife, and I seriously wanted to smack him one like 'TELL HER THE TRUTH. NOW". He and Sarene really brought the feels, I'm not going to lie, because he viewed her how she'd never thought she would be, and he was such a brilliant character. I NEED MORE.
AS for Sarene, I loved her immediately. I found her so relatable, and at one point she oddly reminded me of a Jane Austin heroine with her intelligence and her wit and some of what she had to say. I just loved her. She was determined, fierce, courageous and she made me laugh. So much. I loved reading about her and rooting for her, which I could do 100% and not even feel bad about. I genuinely got choked up at one point because I related to her and what she was feeling and thinking so much, in her inner monologue.
I'm not going to lie, I really, really shipped Sarene and Raoden and I avidly read all of their interactions together. They're so perfect for each other, but Raoden wouldn't open his mouth and say one little sentence so it was amusing watching them interact while Sarene didn't know who he was. I was rooting for them because of Sarene and how she felt, but they genuinely went so well together as a couple. They're both intelligent, and witty and they want to help the people. I ship it so hard. Having said that, the romance isn't at all the main focus of the book, it's there but it's subtle and quiet and you don't really see it much, but it was present enough to make it work!
Our third MC, Hrathen was such an interesting voice. On the one hand, he's trying to save the people and he genuinely thinks he's doing the right thing. He thinks he's on the right side and it was interesting to read about him when you see him from a different perspective when you read Sarenes POV. On the other hand, he's kind of forcing his religious beliefs on people and trying to stir up some political unrest and what not. And you know...he's totally working for the bad guys. I just found his POV oddly fascinating, and a nice contrast to Sarene and Raoden. Although at one point I was flat out rooting for him because Dilaf bugged the hell out of me. I loved his 'game' that he was playing with Sarene and how the pair interacted, I just loved watching them play off from each other!
I loved so many of the supporting characters as well! Like Sarenes group! Shuden, Roial, Eondel, Kiin, Lukel and Ahan. I loved how they respected Sarene and went along with her and supported her plans. I loved reading all of their banter and interactions and watching the dynamic between them. They where an interesting and colourful bunch of people, each different from the other. All intelligent and trying to save the country from being completely destroyed. I loved Galladon and Karata and how Karata completely blew me away from what I was expecting. I enjoyed watching them warm up to Raoden and overcome the struggles they faced to work together. Damn this book had such a brilliant cast!
As I was reading, I was immediately drawn in to the complex web of politics and religion. There are so many twists and turns to this book, and I gasped out loud more than once because I couldn't not react. There's a tonne of political manoeuvring but rather than being dry and complicated and boring, it's fascinating and it hooks you in and you become completely involved in trying to work out who's going to do what, and what that persons action is going to achieve, and how it'll affect that character, and rooting for Sarene and her group as they try to fix everything. Sandersons writing is compelling, and when faced with a book of this size...it's intimidating. But he makes it so easy to sit and read giant chunks of this book and to want to keep on reading. I really do enjoy his writing.
I have to mention that this book made me super tense more than once, and I was sat there shouting "NO DON'T DO IT" so many times. There where serious parts, and there was humour to offset all the politics and the other emotional parts. I also found this book to have a strangely magical quality. Which is odd considering you don't even see magic used properly until right at the end of the book. I don't know what it was, but it just felt magical as I was reading. I loved the bonus content, the list of symbols and information about the AonDor, plus the deleted scenes that showed what a very different book it could have been!
Elantris is fantastically written, and it has such a brilliant ending. But it still leaves you wanting more and I don't know about you guys, but I could totally go for a sequel! This book has immediately become one of my all time favourites, and it has such a brilliant combination of twists, action, rich history, politics and a tiny smidgen of romance that it completely hooks you in and immerses you in the story and characters, and the vividly painted world.