The city of Elantris was home to magical individuals that ruled Arelon for centuries then the magic died and there was chaos. Elantris the first novel by Brandon Sanderson follows a cursed Prince, his “widowed” Princess bride, and a foreign Priest come to Arelon to convert it from it’s pagan ways before judgment falls.
Raoden, the beloved Crown Prince of Arelon, wakes up to find himself transformed in a “cursed” Elantrian and escorted into the city by the priests with funerary offering as he is considered already dead. Days later, Princess Sarlene arrives from Teod to find out that her betrothed is dead and due to the marriage contract she is now the daughter of the Arelon King but sees the arrival of the Derethi priest Hrathen came to convert the Arelon in three months or it would be destroyed. As Raoden comes to grips with is now fallen home, Sarlene and Hrathen duel one another for the future of Arelon until eventually Elantris and its residents become part of their political game. Meanwhile Raoden has used his political savvy to begin “New Elantris” within the city to make life worth living among the cursed inhabitants and gives him time to find out the old magic still works but weakly and begins trying to figure out what went wrong. Through numerous interactions with another Raoden figures out what happened to the magic and begins “repairing” it thanks to Sarlene falls in love with him then learns who he is only to be separated thanks to Hrathen who is almost able to convert Arelon and Teod only to learn they were meant to be murdered because only citizens from those two nations can become Elantrians. Raoden is able to “cure” the Elantrian magic and now empowered goes to Teod to save Sarlene and battle the Derethi warriors alongside Hrathen who feels betrayed by his religious superiors.
Unlike Sanderson’s future books, the plot literally starts at the book’s beginning without a little buildup which was both different and nice. Yet this is a first novel and has problems that go along with it as Raoden and Sarlene are essentially perfect with any mistakes they make coming back to work out in the end while Hrathen’s inner struggle between having faith in his god and the leaders of his religious shows the maturity of writing that Sanderson would show in future books. Another quality that Sanderson is known for is connecting everything together at the end is present here making a very engaging finish to the book.
Elantris is the first novel of the prolific career of Brandon Sanderson that has an engaging plot that has a quality climax. While having some problems that are typical of a first novel there are the wonderful writing elements that Sanderson is known that makes you want to read the next book he writes if this is your first.