Elantris - A Stand-Alone Novel of Brandon Sanderson’s Magical Cosmere Universe

Listen up, fantasy fans: If you haven’t started reading Brandon Sanderson, you are missing out on perhaps the greatest fantasy author of our generation.

I realize the immensity of that claim. Yes, I am comparing him to the author of Harry Potter (who has been letting her political opinions get in the way of her fiction) and the author of The Game of Thrones (who refuses to finish writing his fiction to give us all some closure).

I can give you two reasons to start reading Brandon Sanderson’s books:

  1. He was good enough to finish writing the Wheel of Time series after the untimely death of Robert Jordan.

  2. Not only has he built a universe of fascinating magic, but he lectures other fantasy authors on how to present magic in fascinating ways.

  3. He won’t abandon you, the readers, to go make money on movies or an HBO series.

Sanderson has several ongoing book series that are all intricately intertwined with crossovers and Easter Egg clues. I recently listened to his stand-alone novel, Elantris, and hopefully this review will convince you to give Sanderson a try.

If you’re looking for an exciting new fantasy author with a huge shelf of books, but want to try him out before committing to a lengthy series, then I highly recommend Elantris as a good starting point.

Let me tell you why.

An Elantris Summary: Fully Developed Systems of Magic

Sanderson has a hobby of developing intricate systems of unique, innovative magic in all of his books. Elantris does not disappoint.

The magic in this book originates in runes, that when drawn can produce food, light, or energy, can animate objects or create illusions, and can turn mortals into superhuman beings.

Or at least, it could. The magic has disappeared, and these superhuman beings have been transformed into horrendous, decaying visages of animated corpses. The reason why is a mystery that the main character must figure out.

Sanderson sometimes has a problem with pacing, and with exposing the reader to too much foreign information in early chapters. I found Elantris to be fairly well-paced; there’s a lot to learn about magic in this book, but he spreads it out through the detective-like investigations of the main characters, throughout the book.

More Good Features: Endearing Characters

Sanderson also has a habit of populating every book with a charismatic male lead character, and a suspicious and intelligent female lead character. It’s formulaic, but it works.

Elantris is told through in third-person narration, but focuses on the perspectives of these two characters and their primary antagonist. He deftly weaves these perspectives together, switching between them in critical moments, to create a three-dimensional story.

The Only Bad News: No Sequel

Elantris was actually Sanderson’s first published novel, and his fans have been waiting for more than a decade for an Elantris sequel. Many of us would also love to see an Elantris movie. Unfortunately, neither of those exist. An Elantris sequel is being planned, but the author has not given a release date yet.

However, there are two more short stories set in the world of Elantris for readers who really need more:

The Recommendation: Dive Right In!

Elantris is a great introduction to Brandon Sanderson’s unique style of worldbuilding and exposition. If you enjoy the fantasy genre, I can almost guarantee that you will love this book.

If this review has sparked your interest, and you are ready to fully immerse yourself in a fantasy series, then I recommend jumping right into the Mistborn novels. These were my first exposure to Brandon Sanderson, and I was immediately enraptured. The first trilogy is excellent; there is a follow-up trilogy which is the author’s remarkable attempt at steampunk.

If you are already familiar with Brandon Sanderson’s other Cosmere books, please leave comments below (let’s share theories about his expanded magical universe)! And don’t forget to subscribe using the e-mail form at the bottom of the page to get the latest news about Sparrow’s books!

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