It definitely feels a bit less polished than his later novels but it’s still a great read.
Set around a city in which random people undergo a transformation and become essentially zombies, this story follows three different people: Raoden, the heir to the throne who wakes up to find out the transformation has happened to him (not a spoiler, it happens in the first few sentences), Sarene his intended bride from another country, and Hrathen a warrior priest sent to bring the country under the sway of his religion by any means necessary. The transformation used to make people into almost god like beings but something happened ten years ago that changed all that so Raoden tries to find out what happens in his exile to the fallen city of Elantris while the other two storylines are more political and set in a nearby town.
To be honest I couldn’t tell a lot of difference between Raoden and Sarene most of the time. They are both clever and inspiring people and seem able to overcome almost anything. It didn’t take away from the story too much but I didn’t feel a lot of depth there. Hrathen was a bit more nuanced but I even felt his journey was a bit forced even though it was definitely more interesting.
However what really shines is the world and story. It moved well and though the politics were a bit simplistic it was still intriguing enough to keep you interested. The world is great and you’re kept guessing until the end on how things changed. Though there is nothing explicitly referencing the cosmere, it definitely has a familiar vibe to it with the seons being somewhat similar to spren in Stormlight, and references to Splinters in the religions. Nothing at all obvious, first read I didn’t see anything but after reading pretty much everything cosmere since then it is there to see very slightly.
For a debut novel this is really good and a definite must for fans of the cosmere as there are references to it in later books. Hopefully we’ll get the long awaited sequel at some stage.
4.5 stars rounded down