Discussion in 'Brandon Sanderson' started by chongjasmine, Aug 11, 2013.
I rather enjoy the book elantris. Anyone of you have read it?
Hello again, chongjasmine! WoT fans unite here, it appears!
Just halfway through Elantris now, as a matter of fact. While it certainly had The Hook at the beginning, and I do very much love it, I'm left thinking Brandon shows his newness as a writer here. He tells readers a lot, when it's obvious, and it just looks as if it's him trying too hard to get things across. And some of his ideas seem a little less fleshed out than I'd prefer, such as the fact that the female protag was the laughing stock of her country because she was smart, and because of her smartness, no guy wanted to be seen with her or to marry her. Really, wouldn't a daughter of a King be a prize that everyone would be clambering for, even if she was intelligent? Links to the throne would be highly sought after...
And so far [spoiler alert!!!], Raoden has converted two of the three gang leaders in Elantris??? By niceness? An ex-sculptor axe-wielder about to kill everyone puts down his axe because he hasn't admired how beautiful the sculpted walls around him are? It seems everyone just openly discusses how they're feeling and that makes it all okay. :S
Also, the characters seem a little too simplistic, interplay-wise, and seem to fall in happily as friends together. I can see why some say he writes as if it's YA. I love the characters, and Brandon is amazing at creating likeable characters (I am in awe!), but they always tell others how they feel, without any subtlety. In a way that's responsible for why some of the techniques Brandon uses don't, in my opinion, work as well as they should. Certain characters are supposed to be cunning speakers, twisting people with their words, yet these tense moments, especially when two masters are word-battling, don't feel as complex as they should - and then Brandon goes on to tell us, in a character's speech, how masterful their word-twisting was as a character congratulates the victor. Which lessens the effect, since the word-twisting didn't actually seem complex in the first place. As I said, the interplay seems too thin.
And, in a semi-related way, this bit seems a good example of Brandon's characterisation flaws: "'I can't help worrying about you, Leky Stick. You're my only daughter.' / Serene shook her head, determined to change the topic before she started crying. Suddenly very ashamed for destroying his idyllic vision of her, Serene found searched for anything she could say that would divert the conversation". I find this sort of telling, while fine in small doses, distances me from the character; it tells me I need to feel sad for her (and her father), because she's just told me she feels sad, but I don't feel the emotion strongly enough to leave a lasting impression. I'd like the character experience more 3D, fleshed out even at the expense of pace, with more feeling so I can root even more for her. The same as in some of the internal thoughts (which, it appears, Brandon doesn't do much of): sometimes, if you take away the "he/she thought", it reads like a textbook giving facts rather than a character's thoughts.
Another niggle is that Brandon overuses things that would be great if used sparsely. Such as "kolo" in one person's speech. It adds an exotic flavour, and it shows the character's uniqueness, but we're hit over the head with it all the time, and thus it loses its effectiveness. It would be fine if everyone said it - it would just be a quirk of the world then, and acceptable, for me, like "Light!" is said in the Wheel of Time - but when only one man does it, it gets frustrating. Character quirks need to be used sparingly - just enough to make the character memorable, but not too much.
All in all, as much as this post might not sound enthusiastic, I must assure you I am. I'm excited to read on, and I can't wait to see how it all plays out. What a great novel idea and great characters! I SO want the Elantrians to find happiness. And I can't wait to read more of Brandon to see how he develops as a writer, since this is his first book. It's so wildly different in style from his Wheel of Time work.
Anyway, I must apologise for this post's content, as it's mostly writer-me talking, not reader-me. Overall: fantastic, hooking book with great characters and a pacy, interlaced plot, but it needs waaay more subtlety.
I agree with you, in that the characters are not very subtle, and that they are even stereotypical. Yet, I enjoy the story. I do think this is not Brandon at his best. Brandon's wheel of time books are much more better than Elantris. Still, I love Elantris and since not many people talk about it, I thought I will post a thread about it.
We're definitely in agreement. I've heard that Brandon gets better with each book and, considering how well he did with Jordan's WoT, I have high hopes for his later writing. One strength I'll give him is that he's a master at creating likeable characters in such a short time. I was already rooting for Reodon after just a handful of pages.
I have a few other of his books on the Kindle, which I'll be reading once I've finished Elantris. It will be fun to watch his career unfold before my eyes!
I agree. And I heard that the way of kings was very good, and this was just book 1 of a 10 books series. And Brandon usually write very fast, and can publish at least usually one book a year.
There are going to be many years of enjoying his writings. And if he improves with each book, the enjoyment is going to multiply many folds.
Yes, I can't wait - a 10-book series that people won't have to wait 100 years for! Branderson is very prolific. Now I just need the money to read it!
On another note, I'm over 60% of the way through the book now and loving it. I LOVE the magic system. I'd heard that that is one of Branderson's strengths, and now I see what everyone means. Such a cool idea. And I've heard that Mistborn's magic system is even better!
Anyway, tbh, I now find his naive characters endearing and sweet. I know it's not wholly realistic to have an unloved princess shout at a non-relative king and make the king cry and sink into the seat instead of sending her off to be beheaded for such disobedience, especially as she isn't important to keep around as he made clear, but it's actually quite refreshing in a fantasy series.
However, I still think those high-up lords and dukes clandestinely meeting together to discuss things declared treasonous (and such a big issue is made of how secretive they all need to be because they can't be seen together) would not be so obvious as to go to balls together with the princess, or to stroll out to Elantris together with her, or to start hanging around each other - "showing favour" - just because the girl is so nice.
Branderson is a naive writer, but it's quite charming.
I've decided Sanderson is not for me. The naive characters Leisha mentions are part of what gives Sanderson's books a very YA feel. I ended up giving up on Elantris half way through (and I quite Way of Kings at the same point). I would like to know what happens in his books, because he is clever, but I don't want to have to actually read them. As I say, he's just not for me.
I guess Brandon is not for everyone. At least, you give his book a try.
Grunkins, I finished Elantris last night, and I'm happy to report that it vastly improves in the latter half, especially the end 80%. It's worth the read just to find out the mystery about the magic, let alone to see everything so neatly tied up. Up to you!
I recently listened to Elantris on audio and enjoyed it. I was fascinated by the character arcs, and was eager to see the mysteries of Elantris revealed. Not bad for his first book. The Mistborn series was better.
I never quite got around to finishing it, more disinterest rather than boredom or even dislike. Which is odd given I really like his other books, even Steelheart which seems generally disliked.
At some point I'll give it another go.
Here is my Review:
Elantris is a wonderful debut novel from one of the best contemporary fantasy writers. It is my fourth Sanderson novel, after completing the exceptional Mistborn trilogy. This novel delivers something I crave but is difficult to find: a stand alone Fantasy.
The story itself would be best summarised as a political fantasy. There is a lot of skill in the way Sanderson balances the various parties in the novel, and their motives as they fight for control. The world-building is first class with the distinct detailed styling that is Sanderson's hallmark.
There are some slight disappointments; the magic system although well created isn't utilised as well as I'd hoped and there are small aspects of the book that are poorly paced. However Elantris was such an enjoyable read that these aspects are mere distractions in an enchanting fantasy novel.
I can see where the criticism in this thread is valid. I love Sanderson's characters though. Mistborn is better, agreed but this is a great quality debut novel.
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