Elantris was once a shining city, peopled by a race of near immortals, with white hair and nearly glowing skin. They ruled Arelon with wisdom and benevolence. The truly wonderful thing about Elantrians was that they could come from anywhere, noble or beggar – the Transformation happened overnight, and those lucky souls would leave their old lives behind to live in the glorious city.
That ended ten years before the events of this story, when the Elantrians were struck by the Reod, changed from shining beings to diseased, disfigured people, who were quickly driven mad by wounds that would not heal. Their rule was quickly overthrown, and the common people of Arelon were suddenly ruled by their merchant class, fighting for an existence that had once been made easier by the power of Elantris.
The story centers around Raoden, crown prince of Arelon, suddenly transformed into an Elantrian, and cast into the doomed city, and Sarene, princess of Teod, who has come to Arelon to marry Raoden. Raoden’s transformation is covered up by his father, who instead holds a funeral, which activates a clause in the marriage agreement that makes Sarene Raoden’s widow, and the daughter of the Arelon king.
Arelon isn’t a happy place, Raoden’s father’s rule has been brutal, and Sarene finds herself caught up in the fight for the soul of the Arelish people, which is complicated by the arrival of a high priest of a rival faith that is bent on world domination.
I loved this book. It’s got a really unique system of magic, which I always enjoy, and was never predictable. Raoden and Sarene are absolutely delightful protagonists, and I could barely put the book down, waiting to see what would come next (and this in the middle of a Florida vacation in March. I don’t think I can give higher praise than that). I have not yet read Sanderson’s continuation of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books, but I have a renewed interest, now that I’ve see what he can write.