Elantris was once the capital city of Arelon, a beautiful city filled with benevolent godlike beings. Each of these beings had been an ordinary human until they were transformed by the magical power of the Shaod. But 10 years ago the magic failed. Elantrians became misshapen and wizened, not quite dead but not quite living anymore and the city itself became a filthy crumbling ruin. Now there is a new capital city, Kae, which sits in the shadow of Elantris. A new princess is coming to marry Crown Prince Raoden but before she can arrive, Raoden is stricken down by the curse of the Shaod. He is secretly exiled to Elantris while his father tells everyone that he has died. But Raoden will not give up hope. Why did the magic fail? Can Elantris be saved? Raoden will do all he can to find answers.
Sissy: This was Bubby’s Friday Favorites pick, and I was not happy about it for a couple of reasons. Number one was the fact that I don’t generally like this sort of fantasy, number two is that my two teenage boys loved this book and that can be a telling thing, and number three is that it is over 500 pages long and at page 476 I turn into a picture-book loving toddler.
Bubby: You do know, dear Sissy, that I picked this book specifically in protest against your Lois Lowry books. I figured if you could choose a Friday Favorite I didn’t like, I could choose one you didn’t like, and the world would be in balance. You do have to admit, Sissy, that Brandon Sanderson’s writing is beautiful. Can’t you just SEE the city of Elantris? Gorgeous.
Sissy: I wouldn’t say his writing is beautiful. I would say it is interesting and descriptive and very good if you like this sort of thing. However, just to highlight my maturity as compared to yours, I did find the storyline to be very engaging, and enjoyed the book more than I thought I would. The descriptions of the cities and people are well done, but this is also the genesis of my dislike for this genre–too much description. Too many new cultures, languages, people, words, blah blah blah…when you have to give all the things a new name (can you just say “I ate a fish” instead of saying “ I ate a tutakara fish from the purple violet waters in the lake of zootuzinga where the ssassa people who came down from the great Hunbun mountains of the North singing and dancing the ritual clangaclanga dance of fertility, which involves intricate tattoos shaped like Ululanga birds.”) anyway, you get my drift. It gives me a headache.
Bubby: Wow. Well, now you’ve scared all our readers into thinking that Brandon Sanderson writes like an encyclopedia on an acid trip. The true difference is this – would you rather read something that begins with “It was a dark and stormy night.” or something more like “The skies above Bellangia were full of black menacing clouds that threatened to release a drenching rain upon our heads as we ran towards the safety of the . . .” you get the picture. It’s a word painting – a description of life and culture and surroundings in a place that you have never been. It’s no different than having to learn the words and names in a book set in India or Russia. Bah! Now I have a headache!
Sissy: Kind of like how you scared our readers into thinking Lois Lowry’s beautiful writing is like the death throes of dark and dangerous dystopia? And by the time I figure out who is from where and what language they’re speaking and what color their hair is, I wish the black, menacing clouds would release a drenching rain upon my head! However, after having waded through the multifaceted ethnicological descriptions in this book, I liked the story. I wanted to know what happened. Did the prince escape, find happiness and love, restore peace to the countryside, convert to Shu-Kudaraism? Yes, fair bubby, I wanted to paint myself silver and find out!
Bubby: Rant and rave much, Sissy? I am thinking that perhaps we should add a new segment to our blog – we could call it “Tuesday Tirades” and feature books I love and you hate. I suppose we could do it the other way around, too, just to be fair. But enough quibbling–back to the book. My favorite character is Princess Sarene. According to their culture, she should be a meek, mild, quiet recluse who spends her days painting, doing needlework, or engaging in other delicate, feminine arts. But she is not content to languish in the shadows, but rather wants to take an active role in life and in the government and not just look pretty.
Sissy: My favorite character is Uncle Kiin, who has a huge pirate axe and knows how to use it. Also he cooks. Sarene is an awesome example of true, powerful womanhood, and is well-matched with prince Raoden, who is the perfect balance of brave and smart, yet kind and compassionate. Too bad he has been overcome by the Shaod and has rotting patches of skin and all his hair fell out. Kind of a lust buster, don’t you think? All in all, the book was better than what I expected for a windbag, over 600 page tome, and I get how the fantasy world geekmeisters like Brandon Sanderson’s stuff. I give it a solid 3 bubbles.
Bubby: Elantris is fabulous! An exotic world, new and fascinating religions and cultures, magic, romance, it’s all there! How Sissy only finds it worthy of 3 bubbles, I’ll never know. Must be early onset dementia. Elantris is an engaging story set in a richly detailed world and I love it. LOVE IT! 5 bubbles. Yep, I said 5. Now go read it!
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