Wait, what? This was his first novel?
Now, I know I’m an admitted Sanderson fan boy, but this was a damn good novel for his first published work.
Aside from the usual gripping story and dynamic characters, there were a few things that I particularly liked:
– The world-building. I won’t touch on the magic because, hey, it’s Sanderson and he is definitely the master of well thought out systems. It was all the little things about the setting that were never fully explained, but thrown in there to make it feel like Elantris really is out there somewhere. The author put a lot of thought into building the culture and mannerisms of the people.
– The point-of-view switching. There were 3 POV characters, and chapters were told from the same order like clockwork. While this was pleasing as a reader, I also liked how everything overlapped. What one character saw in his chapter would be touched upon in the next – except now you’d be seeing it from a different perspective, and thus different thoughts and conclusions.
– The political intrigue. This always gets me – I just love court machinations!
– The extraneous content. I’m a sucker for maps, and will always flip back especially when they’re referenced a lot (e.g. Lord of the Rings, Song of Ice and Fire). Elantris had a series of symbols at the back that were not only beautifully integrated into the conflict and magic system, but also appeared at the beginning of each chapter heading. I turned quite heavily to the back of the book, and you can be sure that the Aon symbols will make their way onto my bookish wall collage.
– The little hints and side-plots. Finding out interesting tidbits about characters, or little plot twists that reward a re-read. Oh clever Brandon, you’ve done it again. Sometimes it feels like the outliner in him prevails, but I simply like how everything plays out so well, without having it all explained to me.
– The climax. It follows a staccato approach similar to Erikson, eschewing the single POV chapters, and hopping around every paragraph or two. I love this style – it adds to the tension and makes for a satisfying finish.
– The epilogue. It brought it full-circle with the last line, and the redemption of the “villain” was excellent.
Only Warbreaker remains, and then I’ll have finished reading everything Sanderson has published! He is hands down one of my favourite authors, and I’m looking forward to following his career throughout my life.