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Elantris: Part 1
Brandon Sanderson
Multicast performance, adaptation
GraphicAudio, 7 hours

Elantris: Part 1
Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1994, he enrolled at Brigham Young University as a Biochemistry major. From 1995-1997 he took time away from his studies to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was in 2003, while in the middle of a graduate program at BYU, that he got a call from an editor at Tor who wanted to buy one of his books, Elantris. In December of 2007 he was chosen to complete A Memory of Light, book twelve in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.

Brandon Sanderson Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Susan Dunman

Elantris was once the city where all men dreamed of living. Full of magic and marvels, its citizens were god-like in their appearance and had superhuman abilities. But now, Elantris is a place for the damned, offering only misery and despair for those unfortunate enough to be locked inside the walled city.

For something is terribly wrong with the Dor, a mysterious force that randomly and instantaneously changes individuals from mortals to immortals. Now that change, called the shaod, transforms people, not into gods, but into grey-skinned, hairless creatures whose bodies cannot heal from wounds or illness. However, those same pain-racked bodies cannot die and are banished to the crumbling city of Elantris, away from the "normal" population of Arelon.

The Crown Prince of Arelon awakens one morning to find his skin covered in the black splotches that are the first signs of the shaod's transforming power. That same day his father orders the priests to perform a funeral service and send Prince Raoden to Elantris -- a fate that befalls all who are considered "dead" after their transformation because they cease to have a heart-beat and do not need food or water to survive.

This turn-of-events is not only disastrous for Prince Raoden, but also for his fiancée, Princess Sarene. She has just arrived from a neighboring country to meet her soon-to-be husband for the first time. Serene is only told that the prince is dead -- not that he has been condemned to Elantris. But the suspicious Serene decides to remain in Arelon despite her betrothed's death, vowing to uncover the truth about Prince Raoden's untimely demise.

This sets the stage for listeners to experience a remarkable story -- made even more enticing by this audio adaptation. With a full compliment of narrators (28 to be exact), sound effects and background music, listeners can hear a three-dimensional production of Brandon Sanderson's work -- it's like wearing 3-D glasses for your ears. To do justice to the book, this adaptation is produced in three parts, each approximately seven hours long.

I know some audiobook fans prefer single voice narration, but if you do enjoy audio drama, or have never tried it, then you should listen to a GraphicAudio production. The sound effects can be powerful, but only rarely do they invade the narrator's sound space. In addition, the background music really sets the tone for the various scenes. And if you listen closely, you might find some surprises. For example, in one ballroom scene, the music playing softly in the background is The Blue Danube Waltz, making me wonder if Johann Strauss, Jr. had done some kind of universe/time shift maneuver to get his music played in Arelon.

Elantris was Sanderson's first published work, coming out in April of 2005. He explores themes of love, politics, religion, and eternity in intriguing and imaginative ways. This audio production compliments his work in a very satisfying way and I'm looking forward to hearing part two!

This review first appeared at SFF Audio.

Copyright © 2009 Susan Dunman

Susan became a librarian many light years ago and has been reviewing books ever since. Audiobooks and graphic novels have expanded her quest to find the best science fiction in Libraryland.

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