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Elantris [Hardcover]

Brandon Sanderson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 21 2005
Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon's new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping -- based on their correspondence -- to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn't recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It's also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

Frequently Bought Together

Elantris + Warbreaker + Mistborn: The Final Empire
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Until 10 years ago, Elantris was the capital of Arelon, inhabited by ordinary humans transformed into magic-using demigods by the Shaod. But the magic failed, Elantris started to rot, and its inhabitants turned into powerless wrecks. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives in Kae, the new capital, close enough to Elantris to constantly remind of faded glory, prepared for a marriage to ally Teod and Arelon against the religious imperialists of Fjordell. But, she is told, her fiance, Prince Raoden, is dead. She and a recently arrived high priest of Fjordell, Hrathen, clash. Sarene tries to retain the freedom of Teod and Arelon, Hrathen tries to incite the populace to convert so that Fjordell can take over. Neither suspects the truth about Raoden. Taken by the Shaod, he struggles to unite the crippled Elantrians and discover why the magic failed. The unrest comes to a head as governments topple, the Elantrians' secrets are revealed, and Fjordell's forces arrive. A surprisingly satisfying, single-volume epic fantasy that invokes a complex, vibrant world. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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PRINCE Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Simply Glowing Debut! Dec 25 2005
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I tend to avoid the fantasy genre as it is saturated with clichéd storylines and stereotyped characters that appear book after book after book; the only reason I picked up Elantris was because I had literally nothing else to read. But wow, that was the best literary decision I've made since I decided to read Ender's Game.
Elantris was a crisp autumn gust of originality that blew away from my mind the mouldering dust of the insipid string of words that were called fantasy novels. The races are original, the magic logical, the politics truly intriguing, and the best of all, there is no Good and Evil. Even the antagonist, Hrathen, is depicted as a real human being who believes that what he is doing is just and will save countless lives.
And the plot... I could go on about it for days. All I can say is, you will never expect the end, but when it hits you like a maelstrom, you will realise that there had been countless clues that foreshadowed it. I truly believe that Elantris will become a timeless classic. Get your first editions today!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
If you want a satisfying fantasy read free of a hackneyed plot, cliches, and archetypal characters, races, or beasts, "Elantris" is the book to get.
It not only features a great storyline, but three-dimensional characters, good pacing, maintenance of suspense, and best of all, no cliches! The fantasy genre is so full of things that were fresh and new 1,000 years ago, like dragons, but now, it's so cluttered with ultimate good vs. evil plots, nobodys who are pitted against the greatest evil this world has ever seen, and old mentor wizards. Don't get me started on elves, dwarves, orcs, dragons, and all too commonly seen races and creatures.
Not only has Sanderson invented a race called Elantrians who are exquisitely detailed and carefully crafted, but he has given them a terrible curse called the Shaod which has made once beautiful creatures into diseased, half-dead scavengers.
The main character, Prince Raoden, is a very compelling character who never gives up no matter what adversities he is faced with.
His wife-to-be, Princess Sarene, is no damsel in distress, which is also quite refreshing. But she isn't the token "Red Sonja" character who's "the tough chick". Yes, she can handle a sword quite well, but she's in touch with her feminine side, too. She's not Xena. She's not an archetypal character, period.
None of the characters were archetypal, in fact.
The point-of-view shifts were done very well. Clarity was excellent here. As well, the villain was extremely well-developed. Definitely not a cardboard cutout. Sneaky, conniving, and twisted, the true villain's identity was so surprising and unpredictable.
The whole book was unpredictable, in fact.
So if you want to read the best fantasy novel out there right now, grab Elantris. You will most assuredly not be dissapointed. Sanderson delivers what he promises--a gripping fantasy tale free of cliches.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A- for "Elantris" June 16 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A- for "Elantris"

If you can read the opening line of this novel and not keep reading, then you are something special. This book is populated with interesting characters and relatable problems. Although it might not have the same level of hard realism of some of the darker fantasists out there, his innovative magic system and plot twists help make this book a favourite of mine.

I believe the use of plausible-sounding names of places in the story (Fjordell, Jindo, etc) help make the novel even stronger. Sure Fjordell sounds Norwegian or Finnish or some such, but it gives me some sort of idea of what the country might be like, which is helpful. Better than the fantasy cliche of just stringing together an incoherent bunch of letters that don't give any idea of what the country might be like.
In any case, a highly recommended novel.

(Note that if you are looking for a darker and more harshly realistic story there may be other better choices out there, so check my reviews. Sanderson's books have tend to have less swearing, sex, and throat-slitting as some of the grittier fantasy works, so they reach a broader audience. Highly recommended as more accessible fiction.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Most fantasy books are retellings of the same old stories yet again, but Brandon Sanderson's Elantris is a truly unique experience that completely busts out of the mold of traditional fantasy writing. The world is unique and well thought out, the magic system is a carefully detailed twist on the old concept of runes of power, and the characters are simply superbly crafted, including the antagonists, one of which is a viewpoint character whose complexities and internal struggles are masterfully depicted.

Truly a must read for anybody searching for a fresh new direction in the often cliche-heavy fantasy genre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Good, Enjoyable Fantasy Story June 19 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Well written, well integrated story with a few concurrent plots. I picked this up after reading a few chapters online via a link from Tor books, and enjoyed it. I'll certainly be reading more of Sanderson's work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars love love love March 7 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My daughter told me to read this. She'll get a special present now - I've discovered my new favourite author!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Debut, Feb. 5 2014
By Lucas TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Brandon Sanderson and I have a strange relationship: I read his books, love them, and then I'm terrified to pick up his next book. Coming off of The Rithmatist and Steelheart (two brilliant books by Sanderson) I was hesitant to move into Elantris; especially since it was the first book Sanderson ever published.

The story revolves around three key characters; Raoden, Sarene and Hrathen; each of whom are struggling to achieve one end or another. Raoden wants to bring hope to the Elantrians, Sarene wants to save her home Teod from the War Tyrant Wyrn and his horde of Shu-Derelith believers; and Hrathen, a Shu-Dereleth Priest bent on converting country after country to his God. It's a book of political intrigue, hope and struggle.

My biggest issue with the book stems from the beginning: Sanderson jumps into things a little too fast for you to appreciate what's happening. Thankfully this issue in pacing is quickly rectified and the book settles into a pace that's more comfortable for the reader to get a grasp on everything. Sarene is seems irritating aware that somethings no quite right in Arelon's royal family despite the fact that there is generally a lack of evidence to suggest her beliefs are founded.

Aside from that, Elantris is a great read. It paints a vivd world were the once God-like Elantrians have been reduced to wraith-like figures wandering the rotting city of Elantris; unable to die, yet unable to heal until every small injury they sustain reduces them to insanity; where one religion, Shu-Dereleth stands on the brink of dominating the whole world, and where only the choices made by three characters can lead to the inevitable conclusion.
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