Hope!! ★★★★☆

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Title: Hope!!
Series: One Piece #22
Arc: Baroque Works #11
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 188
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(187_388)

“1”

“The Leaders”

“4:15 p.m.”

“Hope!!”

“Water Luffy”

“Nico Robin”

“The Royal Mausoleum”

“Crocodile-ish”

“Red”

“The Sand-Sand Band’s Secret Fort”

Despite his agents’ defeats, Crocodile is still confident that his plans to take over the kingdom are nearing fruition. With Alabasta embroiled in a civil war of his own design, Crocodile needs only to destroy both warring parties in one fell swoop to take control of the country. Knowing that a cannon is the most practical way of fulfilling this purpose, Nefertari Vivi and the Straw Hat Pirates try to find its hiding place before it is too late. Meanwhile, Crocodile searches for Pluton, forcing King Cobra to lead him and Nico Robin to an ancient stone called a Ponegliff underneath the castle. But when Nico Robin says the Ponegliff has no information on the Pluton, Crocodile tries to kill her and escape before his cannon is fired. Monkey D. Luffy, having recovered and learned from their previous encounter, engages Crocodile in battle.

My Thoughts:

Now, with LESS Vivi. Oh thank goodness. She and Sir Crocodile have a little dialogue back and forth and I actually found myself agreeing with him simply because I disliked Vivi so much. Ughh, I don’t like being in that position.

Everybody is pretty much kung-fu fighting everybody else and the Navy gets involved helping the Straw Hats pirates and the Loyalists and the Rebels try to reconcile all the while the forces of Baroque Works are causing chaos and destruction AND there is supposed to be a bomb that goes off at 4:30pm which will leave a crater 3miles wide.

Luffy ends up fighting Sir Crocodile AGAIN while everybody else looks for the bomb or the mechanism to set it off. We get a smidgeon of back story on Nico Robin, the infamous Ms All Sunday who while being Sir Crocodiles #1 helper has also helped the Straw Hats in previous volumes. The following picture pretty much sums up the kerfluffle between Crocodile and Luffy.

The volume ends with Luffy and Crocodile having their final showdown and about 30seconds before the big bomb goes off. Oh no, the suspense is KILLING me. Hohohoho….

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Utopia ★★★✬☆

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Title: Utopia
Series: One Piece #21
Arc: Baroque Works #10
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 188
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(187_388)

“Stalemate”

“Oh Come My Way Karate”

“2”

“Climate Baton”

“She Who Controls the Weather”

“Tornado Warning”

“Utopia”

“Cutting Steel”

“Mr. Bushido”

Sanji and Mr. 2 Bon Clay exchange blows, until Bon Clay discovers the sea cook’s weakness and he transforms to resemble Nami to distract him. Bon Clay dominates the fight, but Sanji is able to defeat him after exploiting Bon Clay’s vulnerability when he transforms. Nami fights Miss Doublefinger, partner of Mr. 1, and a Devil Fruit user who can create spikes anywhere on her body, during which she struggles with how to use her new Climate Baton weapon. Unfortunately, most of that weapon’s abilities are nothing more than magic tricks. One street further, Zoro battles Mr. 1, who possesses the ability to create blades anywhere on his body. Meanwhile, Vivi reaches Chaka, the acting captain of the royal guard, but before they can stop the fighting, Crocodile and “Ms. All-Sunday” Nico Robin arrive.

My Thoughts:

The fight between Sanji and Mr 2 had me laughing. Mr 2 can make himself look like anybody else and so he chooses Nami’s face to distract Sanji. While it was funny, the actual fight itself dragged on with Sanji and Mr 2 simply kicking at each other. I’m not a huge fan of drawn out fights with limbs and body parts whizzing all over the place with devil-fruit enhanced whizziness.

However! We DO find out why Sir Crocodile has been after the kingdom all along. Drum Roll Please! PLUTON. No idea what that is beyond it is supposed to be a super weapon. And King Cobra doesn’t know where it is. So Sir Crocodiles goal is to get this super weapon and forge a government that not even the world government can stop and thus become tyrant of the world. Pretty ballsy!

There’s more long drawn out fights that I skimmed through and finally got to the end of the volume. Can’t say I cared particularly one way or the other.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Conan the Valorous ★★★☆☆

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Title: Conan the Valorous
Series: Conan the Barbarian
Authors: John Maddox Roberts
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 219
Words: 86K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Hathor-Ka, a Stygian sorceress, tricks Conan into stealing certain relics from Ben Morgh, a sacred mountain in Cimmeria. His expedition takes him across Koth, Nemedia, and the Border Kingdoms where Conan is diverted by his rescue of a chieftainess. Meanwhile, Jaganath (a sorcerer from Vendhya) is also on a journey into the Cimmerian Wilderness. In Cimmeria, the various clans are uniting against the Vanir and their allies, a tribe of lizard folk. The two armies are traveling towards Ben Morgh and proceed with a final battle. As the conflict rages on, Conan and a wizard from Khitai wage a more crucial battle inside Crom’s Cave beneath the mountain with the aid of Jaganath, Hathor-Ka, and her patron, Thoth-Amon. Ultimately, Cimmeria is delivered from outside sorcery and Conan joins a raiding party of Aesir in their journey towards Hyberborea.

My Thoughts:

Robert Howard wrote the original Conan the Barbarian stories. I reviewed a collection of them back in ’18 and thoroughly enjoyed them. So much so that I have finally tracked down a collection of Conan the Barbarian stories by two other authors, notably John Maddox Roberts and Robert Jordan (of the Wheel of Time fame). Since I finished WoT last year, I wanted to give myself a break from Jordan and so chose Roberts to begin my Conan Pastiche journey with. I’ve got 6 Conan books by him to keep me occupied for a while.

I am not sure if these stories by Roberts are in any particular order or how they fit into the original canon by Howard. Honestly, I don’t think it matters. I am treating each one as a standalone story. Howard also mainly wrote the Conan stories as short stories, so getting full length novels is going to be a different beast and we’ll see how Conan the Character handles it.

This story is about Conan getting tricked by a sorceress and being involved in a once in a millennium confluence where great powers are bestowed on one sorcerer. Conan has to go back to his homeland of Cimmeria and you find out they’re a bunch of goat herders who like to kill everyone else with their weapons. Conan isn’t the sharpest sword in the barrel but compared to the rest of the Cimmerians he’s a world traveling playboy of exquisite refinement.

There are monsters galore and the god of the Cimmerians plays a tiny part as does an Eldrich Horror. Roberts delves into the Cosmic Horror side of things with tentacled god monsters in the spaces between the planets but it is more of just a nod to the idea than any real work on the idea.

This was a decent sword & sorcery adventure tale but it didn’t hold a candle to Howard’s original stuff.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Showdown at Alubarna ★★★☆☆

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Title: Showdown at Alubarna
Series: One Piece #20
Arc: Baroque Works #9
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 207
Words: 9K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

“30 Million vs. 81 Million”

“Grand Line Level”

“Showdown at Alubarna”

“Alabasta Animal Land”

“Supersonic Duck Quiz”

“Roar”

“Squadron Leader Karoo”

“Moletown Block Four”

“Oh… Is That So?”

“4”

Luffy fights Crocodile; despite many hits, his opponent is unfazed. Crocodile, using his devil-fruit ability to dissolve and reintegrate whatever part of his body Luffy attacks, toys with him until he impales him through the chest with his prosthetic hook and buries him in the sand. The rest of the Straw Hats hurry to intercept the rebel army. They cross the desert on a giant crab, cross the river Sandora and are picked up on the other side by Karoo and his squad of spot-billed ducks. In front of the capital, the high-ranking Baroque Works agents try to intercept Vivi and are lured into the city by disguised Straw Hats. Vivi tries to stop the rebels, but the enraged army storms past her. She flees from Mr. 2, who chases her into the city (where Sanji comes to her rescue). On the other side of the city, Usopp and Chopper battle the agents Mr. 4 and Miss Merry Christmas.

My Thoughts:

This was just ok. Vivi is front and center as somehow she is the only one who can stop the rebels and get the country back on track. Her father, the king, appears to be a puling idiot and the advisors to the king are as dumb as him. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for why everyone does what they do. Imagine Luffy without the charisma and twice as stupid.

We do get to see Team Luffy coming into their own. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the various fights presented (half the time I couldn’t tell what I was looking at), it was obvious that they had gelled as a team and had begun their own climb up the power ladder.

Even Usopp impressed me. I didn’t think that was possible.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

World Without Women ★★★✬☆

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Title: World Without Women
Series: Groo the Wanderer #4
Author: Sergio Aragones
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 26
Words: 2K



Synopsis:

Many village women are kidnapped by air pirates and Groo is hired to rescue them. He “trains” the villagers by eating all their food and then bashing them on the head. Groo gets tangled up in the airship, rescues the women and then finds out they never wanted to be rescued as they were being treated like princesses. That’ll teach Groo to try to be nice!

My Thoughts:

When Groo first meets the men of the villages and they recite a litany of why they need their wives back, it was obvious what was going to happen at the end. It really felt like a bad joke that you tell just so you can say the horrible punchline and make everyone groan.

I have to admit, I envy those people who can read something like this and then write 1000 words about the color palette, shading and artwork and how it all affects the entire tone of the issue. They’ll describe in detail some tiny part and then syllogistically tie the end page to the beginning page and seem to actually make sense. While at times envious, I am also convinced those people are full of horse pucky.

So have no fear, you need not fear deep and pretentious twaddle from me. I stick to the shallow end of the pool, just like Groo.

(This message is approved by Groo)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rebellion ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Rebellion
Series: One Piece #19
Arc: Baroque Works #8
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 216
Words: 9K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

“Battlefront”

“Rainbase, the City of Dreams”

“The Kingdom’s Strongest Warrior”

“Beginning”

“Koza, Leader of the Rebels”

“Rebellion”

“Bananagator”

“Mr. Prince”

“Release”

“Rush

Karoo brings news of Crocodile’s treachery to the king, who decides to attack Rainbase and sends Pell (the country’s strongest soldier) to scout ahead. Smoker awaits the Straw Hats in Rainbase and chases several of them into Crocodile’s casino, where they fall through a trapdoor into a cage. After defeating Pell, Crocodile’s partner Miss All-Sunday captures Vivi and brings her to the casino; Baroque Works’ final plan is set in motion. The king is abducted, and the rebellion supplied with weapons. Mr. 2, impersonating the king, admits stealing the country’s rain. In response, the rebels attack the capital. Crocodile leaves the cage surrounded by his oversized crocodiles, while the room floods with water. Chopper lures Crocodile away from the casino, while Sanji enters it and fights the crocodiles. One of them spits out Mr. 3, and Sanji forces him to open the cage by creating a key. Smoker, aware of Crocodile’s plan, calls for reinforcements while the Straw Hats head for Alubarna. Luffy, however, stays behind to take on the warlord.

My Thoughts:

Vivi didn’t talk as much in this volume so I enjoyed that aspect a LOT more.

Baroque Works finally begin their big plan of destroying Alabastra (I’ll admit, I’m still not clear on the “why” or what Sir Crocodile hopes to accomplish by this) and that gives the Straw Hats a concrete enemy. Luffy is as brash and loudmouthed as he’s ever been and ends up leading the Straw Hats into a trap. Sanji rescues them and everyone but Luffy heads off to the capital to hopefully prevent a fight between citizens of the country. Luffy stays behind to fight Sir Crocodile.

While I had a decent time with this, circumstances going on around me definitely affected my enjoyment. I was doing my federal taxes and it didn’t go well. So maybe this would have been a 4star read at a different time? I don’t know. Life is too full to wait for “the perfect time” to read and sometimes a decent book gets overshadowed. That’s life.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Blood of Empire ★★★★☆

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Title: Blood of Empire
Series: Gods of Blood and Powder #3
Author: Brian McClellan
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Flintlock Fantasy
Pages: 549
Words: 190.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

The Dynize have unlocked the Landfall Godstone, and Michel Bravis is tasked with returning to Greenfire Depths to do whatever he can to prevent them from using its power; from sewing dissension among the enemy ranks to rallying the Palo population.

Ben Styke’s invasion of Dynize is curtailed when a storm scatters his fleet. Coming ashore with just twenty lancers, he is forced to rely on brains rather than brawn – gaining new allies in a strange land on the cusp of its own internal violence.

Bereft of her sorcery and physically and emotionally broken, Lady Vlora Flint now marches on Landfall at the head of an Adran army seeking vengeance against those who have conspired against her. While allied politicians seek to undo her from within, she faces insurmountable odds and Dynize’s greatest general.

My Thoughts:

This was a good wrapup to the trilogy. Overall, I was satisfied with how the story proceeded and how it ended each storyline of Michael, Vlora, Ben Stykes and Ka-Poel.

I’d like to talk about Vlora first, as I focused on her in the previous review and kind of ruined the whole review even though I enjoyed the book tremendously. Vlora is a bitch, plain and simple. I’m sorry to use such language, but once she lost her powder mage powers and had to rely on others, it became very evident that she was a bully and one of those people who had to do everything themselves. When neither of those things was possible anymore, my annoyance with her as a character went down to almost zero. But she is everything that I still dislike about main characters in a book. If McClellan writes any more in the Powder Mage universe and she’s featured, I’ll probably skip it.

Ben Stykes was a character and I mean that in the best way possible. He’s a jerk sometimes but he has some moments of personal growth that allows him to grow as a person. Having to take care of an adopted daughter made him grow up psychologically and emotionally. Becoming the defacto dad of a 10year old girl was probably the best thing that could have happened to him. I identified with his struggle of getting older, as near the end of the book he realizes he just can’t do what he used to be able to. With my job and my diabetes, I don’t recover nearly as quickly from falls as I use to, and muscles and stuff get hurt a LOT easier than they used to. I’m not an invalid by any means, but seeing Ben struggle just made me grin, because I’m experiencing it myself.

I would have enjoyed seeing a bit more of Ka-Poel and Taniel together. Taniel is almost absent from this except for a bare couple of scenes and while Ka-Poel does play a part, she’s more of an ancillary to Styke’s whole storyline.

While I haven’t talked about him, I liked Michel Bravis’ storyline the best. From the first book until the end, he’s an ordinary person (he’s not a powdermage like Vlora, not a blood sorceress like Ka-Poel, not a ultra-badass like Stykes) who is doing his best and doing it well. He can’t snap his fingers and make things happen, so just like you or me, he has to figure out alternatives. He was the most relatable and I enjoyed my time reading about him.

Overall, this trilogy was a great sequel to the original Powder Mage trilogy and I enjoyed my time spent on it. I saw that McClellan is starting another Epic Fantasy series but that it doesn’t appear to be in the Powder Mage universe. I hope he sticks to a trilogy with it and once it is complete, I’ll be reading it unless I hear abysmal reviews.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ace Arrives ★★★☆☆

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Title: Ace Arrives
Series: One Piece #18
Arc: Baroque Works #7
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 225
Words: 9K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

“Oh Come My Way Days”

“Ace Arrives”

“Landing in Alabasta”

“Come On”

“Spiders Café at Eight O’Clock”

“The Green City Erumalu”

“Adventure in the Kingdom of Sand”

“Yuba, the Town of Rebels”

“I Love My Country”

“Operation Utopia”

“Luffy vs. Vivi”

En route to Alabasta, the Straw Hats encounter Baroque Works agent Mr. 2 Bon Clay; naively, he shows them his ability to impersonate the voice, face and body of any person whose face he touches with his right hand. In Alabasta, Luffy goes to find something to eat. He encounters his older brother Portgas D. Ace and Captain Smoker, who chases him through the town. With Ace’s help, Luffy escapes. The top Baroque Works agents meet at a cafe in the desert. From there they are brought to a city, Rainbase, to meet Mr. 0. The Straw Hats cross the desert to the oasis of Yuba, where the rebel army reportedly has its headquarters. They find a ghost town, plagued by sandstorms. Vivi tells a story about herself and her childhood friend, Koza. In Rainbase, Crocodile reveals himself and his master plan to conquer Alabasta to his agents. When Mr. 3 reports his failure to kill Vivi and the Straw Hats, Crocodile feeds him to one of his oversized crocodiles. Although Luffy is discouraged, Vivi’s passion for the cause inspires him to persevere.

My Thoughts:

It was cool being introduced to Luffy’s older brother Ace, who is supporting a pirate captain named White Beard. Ace is pretty strong stuff even besides his devil fruit powers. He’s not around very long but it’s evident he’s being introduced now to make the fight between him and Luffy that much greater whenever it occurs. Now we just need Luffy’s Dad and Mom to show up, preferably as Ultra-Powerful world government Agents and voila, more family drama than you can shake a stick at. Of course, I’d be really pissed if that is what actually happens.

Vivi is really getting on my nerves now. She interferes multiple times with how the Crew do what they need to and causes things to be twice as hard. She forbids them from fighting with the rebels and acts like she can just wave her hand and make peace. She is the epitome of a spoiled child who has had everything handed to her her entire life. Thankfully Luffy tells her what she needs to hear, that Sir Crocodile is the real enemy, not the rebels, and that HE, Luffy, is going to beat the ever-living daylights out of Crocodile even if she doesn’t “like” violence as a solution.

There was more Vivi than Ace overall though, so while I enjoyed this volume, it left a slightly off taste in my mouth by the end. Boooooo!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hiruluk’s Cherry Blossoms ★★★★☆

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Title: Hiruluk’s Cherry Blossoms
Series: One Piece #17
Arc: Baroque Works #6
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 207
Words: 9K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

“Battle to Defend the Kingdom”

“Frauds”

“Unbreakable”

“Rumble!!”

“Royal Drum Crown 7-Shot Tin Tyrant Cannon”

“The Skies of Drum”

“Full Moon”

“Hiruluk’s Cherry Blossoms”

“To Alabasta”

“Sir Crocodile, the Pirate”

Luffy, Sanji and Chopper fight Wapol and his henchmen, Chess and Kuromarimo. Wapol uses his devil-fruit power to become a cannon-armed house and fuses his men into the two-headed, four-armed Chessmarimo. Sanji’s back aches, keeping him from fighting. Chopper takes a drug he calls Rumble Ball, and defeats Chessmarimo. Wapol sneaks into the castle and chases Nami. Luffy catches up to them as Wapol attempts to open the weapon storage. Unable to do so because Nami has taken his key, Wapol retreats to his cannon at the top of the castle. The cannon does not work, and Luffy sends him flying off the island. Luffy tries to persuade Chopper to join the crew, and the reindeer finally agrees. With a doctor aboard, the crew continues its journey to Alabasta.

My Thoughts:

Another solid entry in this manga series. I feel like I’ve really made the right choice in making One Piece my #MangaMonday destination.

Part of my enjoyment is that the manga-ka believes in his characters and as such, not only invites us the readers to believe in them, but drags us along kicking and screaming, MAKING us believe in them. Which is completely necessary, for if you read these with a jaundiced and jaded view, you’ll see nothing but manipulative emotional panels, pointless powerups and insane craziness. Oda realizes that for this to work, the reader must be involved willingly in the suspension of belief. He also realizes that he has to give his readers a good story to grease the wheels of unbelief, so to speak. It’s a bit of give and take and I think you have to come to this series expecting to do some “giving”. If you can’t do that, I am not sure this series would work for you.

This volume wraps up the Snow Island story arc and the Alabasta arc can begin in earnest. I am hoping Princess Vivi can start being a contributing member now, as so far she’s really pretty useless in terms of skill set. I don’t necessarily want her to be an overpowered fighting machine, but Nami isn’t but her skill as a thief and navigator offset that completely. As a character, Vivi has some growth to do if she’s going to be interesting in the long term.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Elantris ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Elantris
Series: ———-
Authors: Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pages: 621
Words: 205K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Elantris was once a place of magic, and the immortal Elantrians were gods in the eyes of people, with the divine ability to create and heal with a mere wave of a hand. Anyone in Arelon had the potential to become an Elantrian through a magical transformation known as the Shaod. But ten years ago, a cataclysm known as the Reod somehow destroyed the magic of Elantris, the inhabitants of the city became “cursed,” and the city was sealed off from society. Anyone affected by the Shaod is now thrown into Elantris to stay there forever, still immortal, but cursed with unquenchable hunger and unhealable pain.

The book focuses on three principal characters whose stories intertwine. Much of the book occurs in groupings of three chapters, one for each of the three main characters. The majority of the story takes places within the country of Arelon.

Main characters

There are three main point-of-view characters in the story:

Prince Raoden, the prince of Arelon, is transformed into an Elantrian at the beginning of the book. After the Reod, Elantrians were cursed with dark splotches on their skin and hair falling out. The cursed cannot die or be killed except by drastic measures, such as burning or beheading. A major part of the curse is that their bodies can not repair themselves, so they continue to feel the pain of a stubbed toe or bruise forever. Over time the minor injuries accumulate, eventually driving them all insane. Elantrians do not need to eat, but they feel torturous hunger when they don’t. Once Raoden is transformed, he is immediately sent to Elantris in secret while his father pretends he has suddenly died. Raoden’s storyline centers on his efforts to retain his sanity and improve the Elantrian way of life beyond the anarchy to which it succumbed when Elantris fell. He does this by displaying amazing skills as a leader and getting the Elantrians to focus on work, as opposed to their constant suffering. He also manages to calm and disperse or incorporate the gangs which were terrorizing new Elantrians upon their arrival.

Princess Sarene is the princess of Teod and would have been Raoden’s political bride had he not been cursed. Raoden has never personally met her, so it comes as a surprise to her when she discovers upon her arrival in Arelon that they are considered to have been married if either of them dies before the wedding. Widow of a supposedly dead prince and a new member of the mostly ill-suited Arelon nobility, she struggles to find out what exactly is going in all affairs concerning the nobility of Arelon, the downtrodden common people of Arelon and Elantris, and what exactly happened to her now deceased husband. Sarene’s storyline follows her attempts to stabilize and improve the monarchy and political system, which encouraged nobles to mistreat the peasants. While spending her time in Arelon, she learns of Gyorn Hrathen, and relies upon her knowledge and skills to prevent his religious revolution.

Gyorn Hrathen, a Derethi gyorn, otherwise known as a high-ranking priest, arrives in Arelon with a mandate to convert the country to the Derethi religion within three months’ time, or his religion’s supposed armies will come to destroy the entire nation of Arelon. He parades around the nation to spread propaganda with the intention to make Arelenes hate Elantris and Shu-Korath, and, in turn, convert to Derethi. He takes advantage of the corrupt nobility of the region in order to reach his end goal, often holding secret meetings with them that involve bribery. Hrathen’s storyline focuses on his efforts towards politically maneuvering the Arelene aristocracy, with the ultimate intention being to place a converted Derethi on the throne. The novel occasionally focuses on his inward struggles as he feels he must come to terms with the religion he is supposed to believe, for even he questions his work ethic at times.

Aons

These are central to the book’s plot. They are the means by which the Elantrians perform magic. Many characters’ names are variations on the Aons, as is customary in this fantasy world. The images of the many Aons can be found in the back of the book. Raoden rediscovers many of the Aons while in Elantris, preserved in scrolls that have not been consumed by the decay of the city. He learns to invoke the Aons, but finds they have lost their power, which is the ultimate cause of Elantris’ collapse. Near the end of the book, Sarene helps Raoden discover that the shapes of the Aons coincide with physical landmarks and natural features located around the country. A massive fissure in the earth that now cuts through the country ‘altered’ these landmarks, which in turn caused the Aons to lose their power. By ‘reconstructing’ the Aons to now incorporate the fissure in their design, Raoden restores the Aons’ power. After realizing that Elantris and its surrounding cities are just one big Aon, he draws a giant line to represent the fissure, which restores Elantris and the Elantrians to their former glory.

My Thoughts:

Back in the day (from 2006 onward), Sanderson was the king of fantasy in my eyes. Everything he was writing was resonating with me. His stories were what I wanted to read. Then I got married, life happened and I’ve changed albeit so slowly that it wasn’t really noticeable to me. Back in ’19, Matt did a review of Elantris and while it has taken me almost 2 years, I’ve gotten around to re-reading it myself.

My recent re-read of his Mistborn books showed me that yes indeed I had changed. This re-read of Elantris really cemented that. I’ve been complaining about how Sanderson has gone the young adult route with his books and how I lamented that choice. Well, after reading his older stuff, it does appear that he’s always BEEN young adult and I just didn’t notice because it fit me so well at the time. Now that I’ve changed, I notice the rubs. Arggggg! Sometimes growing up isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. I think Peter Pan would agree.

Overall, I did enjoy this re-read. Sanderson shows his ability to be creative with magic systems (something that nobody has surpassed him in yet, just copied in one way or another) and his propensity for wordiness and descriptive bloat are in full view. If you like having all that detail, then you won’t be disappointed. If that type of thing bothers you, then I’d recommend not reading Sanderson. He’s got the wordiness of Charles Dickens but without being “at that level”. He’s definitely way above the majority of most authors in the SFF arena, but he’s not a classic.

Sanderson wrote another series, Alcatraz versus ….., and it had been left in limbo due to publishing issues. He finished it up and I was planning on re-reading the previous books and then reading the final book. After this journey through Mistborn and Elantris, I think I’m going to wait a bit. I feel like I am in mourning for who I used to be.

This experience is one of the reasons I try to re-read books. They are yardsticks against which I can measure myself. Books don’t change, I do but they do allow me to see that change.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.