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Elantris

Introduction

ELANTRIS was Brandon’s first published book. A stand-alone epic fantasy novel, the book won the Romantic Times award for best epic fantasy of 2005, was chosen by Barnes and Noble.com editors as the best fantasy or sf book of the year, and is forthcoming in fourteen languages (about half of which have been released as of September of 2007.)

Synopsis

It’s always interesting to describe your book to people, since a novel like this, at 200,000 words, is going to mean very different things to different people. If you want a more straightforward explanation of what the book’s about, read the Publisher’s Weekly review below. If you want something more casual, read the prologue. If you want something between, read on!

Tor classifies this book as an epic fantasy. I’m not sure if that’s actually the case. There is no quest in this book, nor is it about the end of the world. It takes place (as many of my books do) in one city, and is a mixture of political intrigue, interesting magic, and character dynamics.

The setting is the city of Elantris and the surrounding suburbs. There’s a force in Arelon known as the Dor that randomly chooses people and grants them divine powers. Elantris was once the city of the gods, where anyone who was ‘chosen’ went to live. Ten years ago, the Elantrians lost their powers and caught a terrible disease instead. From that point on, Elantris became a prison city/contamination zone for any who caught that disease, for the Dor continues to choose people and curse them.

The book follows the experiences of three people as they interact with the people of Elantris. Raoden, a prince, catches the disease in chapter one and is thrown into the city by his own father. Sarene, Raoden’s sight-unseen fiancee from a political treaty, arrives in the city and gets involved in schemes, troubles, and politics involving Elantris. Hrathen, a priest and missionary, is sent to convert the people of Arelon, and is told that if he fails, the people of the country will need to be killed instead.

The three stories intertwine as the truth of what happened to Elantris, and its inhabitants, ten years ago is unearthed.

Reviews


About the book, Publisher’s Weekly (which gave it a starred review) had the following to say:

“Sanderson’s outstanding fantasy debut, refreshingly complete unto itself and free of the usual genre clichés, offers something for everyone: mystery, magic, romance, political wrangling, religious conflict, fights for equality, sharp writing and wonderful, robust characters.

The godlike inhabitants of Elantris, once the capital of the land of Arelon, have degenerated into powerless, tortured souls, unable to die, after the city’s magic inexplicably broke 10 years earlier. When the same curse strikes Prince Raoden of Arelon and he’s imprisoned in Elantris, he refuses to surrender to his grim fate and instead strives to create a society out of the fallen and to unlock the secret that will restore the city’s glory.

Meanwhile, Princess Sarene of Kae (Arelon’s new capital), who was betrothed to Raoden sight unseen, believes her intended has died. Officially declared his widow, she must use her political savvy and wit to protect Kae from malevolent forces without and within the city, chiefly Hrathen, a leader of the creepy Shu-Dereth faith, who aims to either convert Kae or destroy it within three months.

The intrigue and excitement grow steadily in this smoothly written, perfectly balanced narrative; by the end readers won’t want to put it down. As the blurb from Orson Scott Card suggests, Sanderson is a writer to watch.”

And, speaking of the blurb by Orson Scott Card, he had the following to say about the book:


“Elantris is the finest novel of fantasy to be written in many years. Brandon Sanderson has created a truly original world of magic and intrigue, and with the rigor of the best science fiction writers he has made it real at every level.

What makes this novel unforgettable, however, is the magnificent characters he has created. True heroes who, in the face of adversity, find strength they did not know they had, make mistakes from whose consequences they do not shrink, and sacrifice to save what is worth loving in their world.

Best of all, the story is complete. Oh, there’s room for a sequel – and I hope there’ll be one. But this does not feel like “volume 1,” with all the important questions yet to be answered. Sanderson brings off an impossibly complicated resolution only a few pages from the end of the book, and you finish the book satisfied.

Sanderson writes within a moral universe where people are rarely sure who the good guys and the bad guys might turn out to be. But the difference between good and evil is clear even though it’s subtle and sometimes hard to find.

It’s rare for a fiction writer to have much understanding of how leadership works, how communities form, and how love really takes root in the human heart. Sanderson is astonishingly wise.

I’m glad I didn’t write this book. I’m not the least bit envious. Because if I had written it, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of letting it unfold before me as this story did, in all its ugliness and beauty and excitement and pain.”

Read the whole review on Orson Scott Card’s website!

Orson Scott Card


“Brandon Sanderson is the real thing—an exciting storyteller with a unique and powerful vision. ELANTRIS is one of the finest debuts I’ve seen in years.”

David Farland


“While every new fantasy author is hailed as unique, new, and different, Brandon Sanderson’s ELANTRIS does indeed provide an absorbing adventure in a unique, different, and well-thought-out fantasy world, with a few nifty twists as well.”

L. E. Modesitt


“Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris is a marvelous, magic monster of a book, packed full of intrigue and daring, based around a killer high concept. When the city of the gods becomes a city of the damned, who and what do you believe in? The story twists and turns, characters bait traps for one another as they vie for secular and religious power, and no-one is necessarily who or what they seem. Royal houses rise and fall, the fate of all Humanity is in the balence, and maybe, just maybe . . . the gods are coming back. All this and a genuinely touching love story too. Elantris; the book that put epic back into fantasy.”

Simon R. Green


“ELANTRIS is a new BEN HUR for the fantasy genre, with a sweeping, epic storyline and closely personal characters.”

NYT bestselling coauthor of DUNE: THE BATTLE OF CORRIN.

Kevin J. Anderson


“I suspect that most of us have marveled at the human body’s amazing ability to heal itself, and perhaps have considered how awful it would be if all the injuries of one’s life, from shattered bones to stubbed toes, sprained ankles, and bruises, even down to each annoying paper cut, all reappeared at the same time—and never healed. It doesn’t bear thinking, does it?

“Brandon Sanderson obviously has thought about it—and has used a variation on this notion as part of the premise for his excellent first novel, Elantris—except that, in the world he’s imagined, this unhappy state stems from a disease. After you’ve “died” from it, you’re not really dead—but every injury done to you from that point accumulates, along with all the aggregate of pain. And you can never really die.

“There’s more—much more—but I’ll refrain from revealing any more of the ingenious plot twists.

“Elantris, Brandon Sanderson’s excellent debut novel, is marked by vivid and strongly drawn characters (including a memorable female character) and ingenious plot twists that will keep the reader turning pages. Don’t miss it!”

Katherine Kurtz


“Sanderson’s outstanding fantasy debut, refreshingly complete unto itself and free of the usual genre clichés, offers something for everyone: mystery, magic, romance, political wrangling, religious conflict, fights for equality, sharp writing and wonderful, robust characters.

“The godlike inhabitants of Elantris, once the capital of the land of Arelon, have degenerated into powerless, tortured souls, unable to die, after the city’s magic inexplicably broke 10 years earlier. When the same curse strikes Prince Raoden of Arelon and he’s imprisoned in Elantris, he refuses to surrender to his grim fate and instead strives to create a society out of the fallen and to unlock the secret that will restore the city’s glory. Meanwhile, Princess Sarene of Kae (Arelon’s new capital), who was betrothed to Raoden sight unseen, believes her intended has died. Officially declared his widow, she must use her political savvy and wit to protect Kae from malevolent forces without and within the city, chiefly Hrathen, a leader of the creepy Shu-Dereth faith, who aims to either convert Kae or destroy it within three months.

“The intrigue and excitement grow steadily in this smoothly written, perfectly balanced narrative; by the end readers won’t want to put it down. As the blurb from Orson Scott Card suggests, Sanderson is a writer to watch.”

Publishers Weekly


“An epic fantasy novel that is (startlingly) not Volume One of a Neverending Sequence . . . [with] an unusually well-conceived system of magic . . . the story has some grip and it’s a tremendous relief to have fruition in a single volume. . . . A cut above the same-old.”

Kirkus Reviews

Fun Stuff

These are some interviews I did for various media venues during the first year ELANTRIS was out.

Email Interview with RFbookreviews.com

Eric James Stone interviews me

Radio Interview/podcast with the Dragon Page

Pat’s fantasy Hotlist (Feb 2006)

Like all of my books, I try to release a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ material, all of which you can get to from the Related Content Sidebar. Annotations are chapter-by-chapter musings I have written to be something like a director’s commentary for a DVD. There are also sample chapters, essays, expanded world information, and deleted scenes. Have a look! I think you’ll find plenty to interest you.