Cover of Elantris
|Illustrator||Jeffrey Creer (1st edition)|
Stephen de las Heras (1st edition)
|Cover artist||Stephan Martinière|
|April 21, 2005 (first edition, hardback)|
May 30, 2006 (first edition, reprint paperback)
October 6, 2015 (10th anniversary definitive edition)
|Media type||Print (hardcover, paperback and leatherbound), audiobook, e-book|
|Pages||496 (first edition, hardback)|
656 (first edition, paperback)
590 (def. ed., hardback)
|ISBN||0765311771 (first edition, hardback)|
0765350378 (first edition, paperback)
9780765383105 (def. ed., hardback)
|LC Class||PS3619.A533 E43 2005|
Elantris is a fantasy novel written by American fantasy and science fiction writer Brandon Sanderson. The book was first published on April 21, 2005 by Tor Books, which is based in New York City, and was Sanderson's first published book.
It is licensed for localized release in Russia, France, Germany, Thailand, Poland, Netherlands, Brazil and at least five other markets. The book gained generally positive reviews.
Elantris used to be a place of magic, and the Elantrians were gods in the eyes of people, with their ability to create and heal with a mere wave of the hand. But after a cataclysmic event, known as the Reod, the inhabitants of the city became "cursed," and the city was sealed off from society. Anyone affected by the Shaod, or the disease that turns a person into an Elantrian, is thrown into Elantris to stay there forever.
The book focuses on three principal characters whose stories intertwine. Much of the book occurs in groupings of three chapters, one for each of the three main characters. The majority of the story takes places within the country of Arelon.
- Prince Raoden, the prince of Arelon, is transformed into an Elantrian at the beginning of the book. After the Reod, Elantrians were cursed with dark splotches on their skin and hair falling out. The cursed cannot die or be killed except by drastic measures, such as burning or beheading. A major part of the curse is that their bodies can not repair themselves, so they continue to feel the pain of a stubbed toe or bruise forever. Over time the minor injuries accumulate, eventually driving them all insane. Elantrians do not need to eat, but they feel hunger pangs when they don't. Once word gets out that he's been cursed, Raoden was immediately sent to Elantris - once the wonder of the world, but now a cursed ruin. People transformed into Elantrians are treated as if they were dead by those outside Elantris. Raoden's storyline centers on his efforts to improve the Elantrian way of life beyond the anarchy to which it succumbed when Elantris fell. He does this by portraying his amazing skills as a leader and getting the Elantrians to focus on work, as opposed to their constant suffering. He also manages to calm and disperse the gangs which were beating up new Elantrians upon their arrival.
- Princess Sarene is the princess of Teod and would have been Raoden's political bride had he not been cursed. Raoden has never personally met her, so it comes as a surprise to her when she discovers upon her arrival in Arelon that they are considered to have been married if either of them dies before the wedding. Widow of a supposedly dead prince and a new member of the mostly ill-suited Arelon nobility, she struggles to find out what exactly is going in all affairs concerning the nobility of Arelon, the downtrodden common people of Arelon and Elantris, and what exactly happened to her now deceased husband. Sarene's storyline follows her attempts to stabilize and improve the monarchy, since when she arrived is encouraged nobles to mistreat the peasants. While spending her time in Arelon, she learns of Gyorn Hrathen, and relies upon her knowledge and skills to prevent his religious revolution.
- Gyorn Hrathen, a Derethi gyorn, otherwise known as a high-ranking priest, arrives in Arelon with a mandate to convert the country to the Derethi religion within three month's time, or his religion's supposed armies will come to destroy the entire nation of Arelon. He parades around the nation to spread propaganda with the intention to make Arelenes hate Elantris and Shu-Korath, and, in turn, convert to Derethi. He takes advantage of the corrupt nobility of the region in order to reach his end goal, often holding secret meetings with them that involve bribery. Hrathen's storyline focuses on his efforts towards politically maneuvering the Arelene aristocracy, with the ultimate intention being to place a converted Derethi on the throne. The novel occasionally focuses on his inward struggles as he feels he must come to terms with the religion he is supposed to believe, for even he questions his work ethic at times.
These are central to the book's plot. They are the means by which the Elantrians perform magic. Many characters' names are variations on the Aons, as is customary in this fantasy world. The images of the many Aons can be found in the back of the book. Raoden rediscovers many of the Aons while in Elantris, preserved in scrolls that have not been consumed by the decay of the city. He learns to invoke the Aons, but finds they have lost their power, which is the ultimate cause of Elantris' collapse. Near the end of the book, Raoden discovers that the shapes of the Aons coincide with physical landmarks and natural features located around the country. A massive fissure in the earth that now cuts through the country 'altered' these landmarks, which in turn caused the Aons to lose their power. By 'reconstructing' the Aons to now incorporate the fissure in their design, Raoden restores the Aons' power. After realizing that Elantris and its surrounding cities are just one big Aon, he draws a giant line to represent the fissure, which restores Elantris and the Elantrians to their former glory.
Elantris was published by Tor Books in hardcover on April 21, 2005. Coinciding with the general release, the Science Fiction Book Club released a hardcover edition in May 2005. The Tor mass market paperback was released on May 30, 2006, and the ebook followed in April 2007. In October 2015, a "tenth anniversary author's definitive edition" was released in trade paperback and hardcover, containing "10,000 words of additional content". In December 2015, the Elantris Tenth Anniversary Dragonsteel Leather Edition was released, which included full-color pages of Elantris-related art, new maps, and two-tonal typeset.
Recorded Books released an authorized audio book of Elantris: Tenth Anniversary Author's Definitive Edition on October 7, 2015 that is narrated by Jack Garrett. This version can be found on Amazon's audiobook service, Audible.
Orson Scott Card, American novelist, critic, public speaker, essayist, and columnist, states on his website that "Elantris is the finest novel of fantasy to be written in many years. Brandon Sanderson has created a truly original world of magic and intrigue, and with the rigor of the best science fiction writers he has made it real at every level."
Kirkus Reviews praised the book because it was not the first book in a series: "An epic fantasy novel that is (startlingly) not Volume One of a Neverending Sequence... [with] an unusually well-conceived system of magic... the story has some grip and it's a tremendous relief to have fruition in a single volume... A cut above the same-old."
Publishers Weekly praised Sanderson's fantasy debut as being outstanding and free of the usual genre clichés, noting that it offers something for everyone, including mystery, magic, romance, politics, religious conflict and robust characters.
Sanderson is currently planning an official sequel to Elantris, though he is not sure when it will be written. He has stated that it would take place ten years after the current book's events, and center around some of its very minor characters.
He later announced plans for two books following Elantris, with Kiin's children being the main characters in Elantris Two.
The Hope of Elantris
An e-book short story was released in 2007 entitled The Hope of Elantris. It was initially for sale on Amazon, but Sanderson released it on his own site when the contract with Amazon ran out. Sanderson describes on his website that the events that take place in the e-book happen concurrently with events in Elantris, hence he suggests reading Elantris first for risk of spoiling certain aspects of the story. The inspiration for the story comes from a story told to him by his wife Emily when they were dating in 2006.
The Emperor's Soul
In 2013, Sanderson wrote a novella titled The Emperor's Soul that takes place in the world of Elantris, but in a very different region. Sanderson notes that the reader does not need to read Elantris to understand the plot.
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