By GunslingerPanda 0 Comments
Welcome to the Cosmere
"Cosmere" is the name given to Brandon Sanderson's fictional universe that incorporates several of his series and stand-alone novels: Elantris, Mistborn, Emperor's Soul, Warbreaker, Stormlight Archives, and Mistborn: Alloy of Law to date. I've no idea what the ties between them all are, but I intend to find out.
I'd been intending to dig deep into the Cosmere for quite some time now, and it was @nophilip's thread over here that finally prompted me to do so. I've been a huge fan of Sanderson's ever since reading the Mistborn trilogy a few years ago and have read a number of his books since then: The Alloy of Law, Warbreaker, and a few non-Cosmere books such as Legion and Steelheart. However, if I'm going to read through the Cosmere and try to piece everything together, I'm not going to simply half-arse it but read through the whole lot again! Fortunately, the chronology I stumbled upon online indicated that I'd be beginning with one I hadn't read previously: Elantris.
Before getting into the real good stuff and trying to pick out what might have effects on the Cosmere as a whole, I'll reflect on the novel itself. It was a big surprise to discover that this Sanderson's debut novel; it exhibits much of the same mastery of story-telling seen in his later works. One of my favourite parts of Sanderson's writing is his ability to pull off some insane twist that completely make sense thanks to expertly placed hints throughout the story and it's done well here over and over again: "Crush/Crushedthroat" hiding in plain sight all along, and the nature of Elantris to name a couple.
These weren't all necessarily perfect, however. While the story about a failed healing turning sour early in the story was later revealed to be the eventual villain's motivation, it was a rather stale and overused one. In a similar vein, it was incredibly frustrating to watch Raoden spend two chapters figuring out what was missing from the Aons when it was incredibly obvious to the reader as soon as they realized they were all based off Arelon's map.
Elantris rides the same sharp edge between fantasy and science fiction as Sanderson's later novels, backing up every mystical element of the meticulously crafted world with technicalities that are completely logical within its own confines. A minor highlight of this that won't give too much away is the sludge that covers Elantris turning out to be a moss that had previously given the city its ethereal glow; when the city died, so too did the moss.
One of the biggest surprises of Elantris for me were the characters. They all seemed to be built from their insecurities, making for a compelling and relatable cast in spite of their fantastical surroundings and abilities. Perhaps my favourite of these was the villainous Hrathen, a character that feels insecure in his faith and performs some nefarious acts for a noble purpose: the rescue of Arelon.
The absolute biggest surprise was that I was compelled to actually care about a romance sub-plot. As perhaps the least romantic person I know, this took me by surprise. Sanderson somehow managed this before even bringing the characters together.
Overall, Elantris is yet another five-star book out of Sanderson. With that out of the way, there were a couple of things I noticed that may or may not relate to the Cosmere.
I'd read this name in a number of places before even beginning Elantris, hearing that he was essentially the leading man of the Cosmere as a whole. As such, I wasn't quite expecting him to show up as a beggar.
There wasn't much to glean from Hoid yet, who was described as an older man wearing a hood in the brief scene in which he appeared. Sarene gave him a bunch of weaponry to take into Elantris during the third act of the novel, and then he went on his merry way. The short story, Hope of Elantris, makes it clear that these weapons were delivered.
What was Hoid up to in Arelon, then? Observation? Hiding? I guess I'll find out in a later entry. I don't know nearly enough about him yet to make any kind of assertion.
Being a standalone novel, I expected the cause of the chasm to be neatly explained and wrapped up by the epilogue. That never happened, leading me to believe it has greater import to the Cosmere than I originally thought, though I'm not sure how a geographical event could have an effect on other worlds. Or perhaps it was an effect itself? I'm not sure there's anything else to be extrapolated as of yet, but this is something I'll need to keep in mind as I continue reading through the Cosmere.
Next Up: Mistborn - The Final Empire
I'm pretty excited to be reading this one again since Mistborn might just be my favourite series behind only The Dark Tower. Its concision, being a trilogy, certainly puts it leagues ahead of the likes of A Song Of Ice And Fire and Wheel of Time for me.