“Elantris” by Brandon Sanderson

Listened to this one on CD while commuting.

The setting is your standard fantasy kingdom in upheaval.  A city of god-like magic users fell ten years ago, its once glorious inhabitants reduced to ugly wretches whose wounds never heal.  The blessing-turned-curse of being an Elantrian still comes upon new victims; they are shunned and locked away in the abandoned, slimy city.  Something has caused the magic to stop working – exactly what is something for one of the main characters to figure out.  (Although it seems pretty obvious: <spoiler> the magical symbols that Elantrians draw in the air to call forth the primal power of the land are representations of the shape of the land itself.  An earthquake ten years ago created a large chasm, which must be included in the magical characters for them to be effective.</spoiler>)

I thought the story was original, interesting, and very enjoyable to listen to.  (Excellent job in the audio version by narrator Jack Garrett!)  Plenty of plot twists – I found myself more than once exclaiming “What?!” to myself in the car.

The main characters are a tad one-dimensional.  However, the character who seemed at first to be the most one-dimensional of all, – Hrathen, the priest of the repressive and militaristic Derethi religion intent on converting (ie all but enslaving) the kingdom – turned out to not be the standard archetypal Foozle I thought him to be.  Hrathen experiences inner conflict with his orders and the methods of some of his fellow Derethi vs what he knows to be right.  He redeems himself in the end in Darth Vader-like fashion.

Overall a pretty good read.  Looking forward to more by the author! (A fellow BYU alum, btw)

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