Elantris - Sanderson's first novel
Elantris, Brandon Sanderson’s first widely distributed book, is named after the ruined city of Elantris, which is the focus of the story. A standalone fantasy novel, the book won the Romantic Times award for best epic fantasy of 2005, was chosen by Barnes and Noble editors as the best fantasy or sf book of the year, and has been released in twenty languages. It is an excellent book and a stand alone story, despite the fact that Brandon does plan to eventually write a sequel. This book started the career of one of the best Fantasy writers alive today and you should not miss out on reading it.
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, known as the Shaod. The Shaod transforms afflicted individuals into an undead state where one’s body no longer repairs itself. Society treats anyone afflicted with the Shaod as dead and sends them into the ruined city of Elantris for the remainder of their existence.
Elantrians feel pain and it is a pain that will never go away or diminish as they have no ability to heal. Over time, an Elantrian will accumulate injuries, each time adding to the level of constant pain they feel. Eventually, many go mad from their suffering. Within the walls of Elantris, a desperate, broken society has formed where the strong prey on the weak and the existing inhabitants take advantage of the newcomers sent to join them.
Raoden, the Prince of Arelon, is taken by the Shaod and thrust into the living hell that is Elantris; however, he refuses to abandon his humanity and seeks to improve the state of affairs within Elantris. Brandon’s concept for this book, while basic in nature, is told within a setting that contains interesting magics and complex politics. Jack Garrett does a fine job as narrator and is a good fit for the material.
This book is certainly not as polished as Sanderson’s later works, but I enjoyed it just the same. It is a worthy read/listen and certainly left me wanting more. I look forward to the day that the decade long wait for a sequel comes to an end. :)
Recently a $100 leatherbound edition of this book was released and it sold out rather quickly. A second printing is expected early in the new year and should be orderable here: Elantris Leatherbound edition.