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2024 Hugo Awards Progress
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29 May 2024

The Cosmere by Brandon Sanderson: Elantris

Elantris: Tenth Anniversary Author's Definitive Edition
by Brandon Sanderson

This is my fifth Cosmere novel, but Brandon Sanderson's first. I read Warbreaker first, and you can definitely see how Warbreaker is a rewriting of this: a city of gods who don't do anything, a princess in an arranged marriage arrives in a foreign city, the man she was to marry isn't what she thought, the princess recruits disaffected merchants to her cause in one-on-one meetings.

Edition published: 2015
Originally published: 2005
Acquired: March 2021
Read: November 2023

I liked Warbreaker better. The chapters here about the prince and the princess are okay, if plodding. (More on that in a bit.) But the chapters about the religious fanatic dude were interminably dull. You would think a Mormon would be able to write a religious fanatic with more nuance.

I think the big problem I am having with Brandon Sanderson novels is that they all feel very... incremental. A tiny bit of progress is made in each section, again and again and again. There are very rarely any big moments that seize you, it's just a very slow very steady climb to the end. There are things that should be big on the way, but something about the way he writes mean they never feel big; he doesn't seem to know how make the energy of the novel ebb and flow in a way that propels the reader forward. It's just plod plod plod until you get to the end—which as always is a totally uninteresting reveal about the magic system. Wow, the prince guy figured out how to write magic words! This is the kind of thing that in Le Guin would be the thematic, emotional, and character lynchpin of the novel... but here it's just a thing that explains all the elements of the "magic system" you never wanted explained to begin with.

Every nine months I read another novel of the Cosmere. Next up in sequence: Mistborn: The Alloy of Law

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