Brandon Sanderson pt 3: Elantris and Emperor's Soul

Reviews for Sanderson's first published novel, and one of his most acclaimed short stories, all set on the planet Sel in the Cosmere.

Brandon Sanderson pt 3: Elantris and Emperor's Soul

Continuing my reading of Brandon Sanderson's books! See the button below for all my articles on this prolific author.

This time I go back to his first published work, Elantris. Sanderson had actually written 13 novels by the time Elantris was published, which was his sixth story. Talk about trying to break into the industry! I then continue on to Emperor's Soul, one of his most acclaimed stories despite being a novella. At the end is a short review for The Hope of Elantris, a short story set during the final act of that novel.

Importantly for Cosmere fans, these stories are actually all set on the same planet Sel! There is a little amount of crossover if you look really hard, but Elantris and Emperor's Soul can definitely be read independently. Read on for my full reviews!


Published: 2005

Read: 12th May 2021

A highly intriguing fantasy tale hampered by its writing style and story structure, both of which are forgiveable seeing as it was Sanderson's first published novel. The short prologue sets up the central mystery at the heart of the novel - what happened to the once great magical system and city of Elantris? Sanderson then quickly introduces the three rotating perspectives of 'dead' Prince Raoden, widowed Princess Sarene and red-cloaked Gyorn Hrathen. This unfortunately immediately burdens the plot, as we're introduced to separate casts and multiple ideas with varying interest within the town of Kae, whilst also realising this 'last stronghold' is key for larger forces at work throughout the land.

There were a few repeated ideas such as nobles, balls, deities and religions, and I only became attached to the characters around 40-50% through, when the story and pacing picked up. Whilst I'd say to most keen readers this novel is unnecessary when wanting to read the Cosmere, it was still a fun read introducing a lot of ideas and then having Sanderson's trademark payoffs at the end. In fact, the ending opens more story possibilities in the future, which hopefully we'll see after Stormlight 5?

The Emperor's Soul

Published: 2012

Read: 22nd November 2022

Audaciously ambitious. Sanderson attempts to capture the essence of the soul and reveals the thinking of a thief, an honest man and an emperor. I loved the soul stamp magic system and this is so nice as a bite sized tale.

Highly recommend this one to any fantasy fans or anyone seeking a taste of Sanderson's writing.

The Hope of Elantris (short story)

Published: 2006

Read: May 13th, 2021

Spoilers for Elantris

Short, heartfelt with the annotation regarding Emily Sanderson's student Matisse. This little side tale reveals how much is truly going on in the Elantris novel, with the New Elantris city being more properly explored and represented through the perspectives of Matisse and Mareshe. The focus on children and emotional attachments between characters was nice, and there was the same tonal/ action shift in this story as in Elantris's conclusion. Most intriguing to me were the opening and closing sections, which provide teases as to what happened to our characters after Elantris.

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