The Hope of Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

I recently read The Hope of Elantris by Brandon Sanderson as it has recently been released in the anthology book, Arcanum Unbound: The Cosmere Collection. 

The Hope of Elantris follows a group of citizens of Elantris as the final events of Elantris unfold. It is a behind the scenes look at a group of children and their caretaker, Matisse, from inside the city of Elantris during the final battle of Elantris.

As the soldiers attack Elantris, Matisse is able to take the children of Elantris to safety and is able to use her wits to keep them safe. Matisse was able to distract the soldiers by drawing an Aon that drew their attention and they began to pursue Matisse instead of the children. Just as the soldiers were about to hurt Matisse and make her Hoed, all Elantrians were healed and they were able to defeat the attacking soldiers and emerge victorious.

The story was quick and easy to read, and while didn’t provide much additional information to the overall story of Elantris, it was good to revisit the story. I read it right after finishing Elantris and felt that while it added something to the overall story of Elantris, if you were to never read The Hope of Elantris you would be just fine too.

I recommend the story if your able to get your hands on it, as it would take about 20 minutes to read it.

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor’s Soul is another amazing story by Brandon Sanderson.  We are introduced to characters that evolve before our eyes in the short timeframe of the events of the story.  Another new intriguing magic system, Forging, is revealed by Brandon that brings a freshness to the story. There is a depth to The Emperor’s Soul that demonstrates Brandon’s mastery of storytelling, whether it is 1000 page novel or a short story as this.

The story starts off in what seems to be the last moments of Shai’s life, but she is given a second chance in exchange for services to the Emperor’s advisors. The Emperor has been attacked and his life and soul hang in the balance. Shai is brought in to save the Emperor’s soul.  Shai is a Forger with a gift for changing the nature of things for the better. The majority of the story is how Shai is locked in a room and tasked to recreate the Emperor’s soul, however there is so much more going on than this.

The Emperor’s Soul is one of those stories that as you’re reading you come to realize something more is going on than what is being revealed. There are different levels of planning by Shai going on, not only are we privy to what all the characters know is going on, but we are also “let in” on what Shai is planning to do in her head. However, there is another level to the story that is not revealed to us until the end. Breadcrumbs are left throughout the story and hints are dropped. Towards the latter end of the story, we are able to realize something else is going on, but not until the last scenes do we see it come to fruition.

The concept of Forging and the art that it is as presented in the story is a very interesting concept for a “magic system” in the story. Although a little difficult to understand at first, Brandon does a great job at providing small examples throughout the story that reveal more about the art and solidify it’s believability in the story.

Although not part of the story, there is a Postscript at the end of the book that discusses how Brandon came up with the idea of Forging that was personable and great insight to Forging.  The Postscript also mentions that this story takes place in the same world as Elantris, Sel. There are no direct links from the story to the events in the story Elantris or it’s characters.

The Emperor’s Soul is a great story that is told with depth and complexity, in both characterization and plot. I felt that Shai’s character, as well as all the characters were well developed and were believable in their emotions and motivations.  The plot was very well thought out and contained many twists and turns, that were amazingly well carried out for the length of the story. The angst that existed throughout the story was very well done and existed in many different forms. While reading, I often found myself becoming anxious for Shai and her predicament and that she only had a certain amount of time to complete her task.  As time ran down and her plans were put into motion, it was very fulfilling to see it all come together.

One of Brandon’s strength’s in my mind has been his ability to put several story lines in motion and to bring them all to fulfillment in a fast paced and believable manner. That strength combined with his fighting/battle scenes, are always amazing and fun to read. There is a little bit of fighting at the end of the story.

I wholeheartedly recommend The Emperor’s Soul for everyone. There are no inappropriate scenes of sex, sensuality or violence. A core aspect of the story is being genuine and learning to trust. A good lesson to learn for anyone. The Emperor’s Soul is entertaining and will hold up well to multiple readings.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Step into the world of Elantris, a city where the dead go to die. Once considered gods, Elantrians are now shunned and locked away in hopes that they will be forgotten.

Elantris of today is in shambles and is considered a city of the dead, however 10 years ago it was the city of the gods filled with luminous beings, amazing technology, and was a center of learning. Ten years prior to the story, the Reod occurred which led to the downfall of Elantris and the Elantrians. No one was able to figure out why things changed, until now.

In reading Elantris we follow one of our heroes, Raoden, as he is able to unravel this mystery, with the help of new friends. We also follow the adventures of Sarene, a princess from another realm who is now a part of the story, as she tries to uncover the mystery of what happened to Raoden. Unbeknownst to them, Raoden and Sarene are able to work together to bring about important social change, political change, and their own personal salvation.

We are introduced to the magic system of this part of Sel, the AonDor. The AonDor is part of the Dor, the magic of Sel and something not fully explained yet, and the AonDor is what gives Elantrians their power and long lasting life. We see how when the AonDor manifests itself in a person, they are chosen by the Shaod, and undergo physical changes are transformed into Elantrians. However, due to the Reod, this process was perverted and became a curse instead of a blessing. We are able to discover, through Raoden, how this process occurred and what, if at all, can be done to reverse the Reod.

When I first read Elantris many years ago, it was presented to me as a standalone story. A story that is self contained and doesn’t rely on other stories or isn’t part of a long series. While this is somewhat true, and was the case at the time I read Elantris, there is so much going on in this story that is only now being revealed and connected to other stories in the Cosmere. There will be more connections and more stories of Elantris in the future and for this I am happy that this didn’t end up being a “one off” and that the story continues!