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Elantris cover.jpg
Cover of Elantris
AuthorBrandon Sanderson
IllustratorJeffrey Creer (1st edition)
Stephen de las Heras (1st edition)
Isaac Stewart
Cover artistStephan Martinière
CountryUnited States
PublisherTor Books
Publication date
April 21, 2005 (first edition, hardback)
May 30, 2006 (first edition, paperback)
October 6, 2015 (10th anniversary definitive edition)
Media typePrint (hardcover, paperback and leatherbound), audiobook, e-book
Pages496 (first edition, hardback)
656 (first edition, paperback)
590 (def. ed., hardback)
ISBN0765311771 (first edition, hardback)
0765350378 (first edition, paperback)
9780765383105 (def. ed., hardback)
813/.6 22
LC ClassPS3619.A533 E43 2005

Elantris is a fantasy novel by American writer Brandon Sanderson. It was first published on April 21, 2005 by Tor Books and was Sanderson's first published book.

Elantris used to be a place of magic, and the Elantrians were gods in the eyes of people, able to create and heal with a mere wave of the hand. But after a cataclysmic event, known as the "Reod," the inhabitants of the city became "cursed," and the city was sealed off from society. Anyone affected by the "Shaod", the random turning of a person into an Elantrian, is thrown into the city, to stay there for all eternity.

It is licensed for localized release in Russia, France, Germany, Thailand, Poland, Netherlands, Brazil and at least five other markets.[citation needed] The book gained generally positive reviews.[1][2]

Plot summary[edit]

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.

  • Raoden, the prince of Arelon, is transformed into an Elantrian at the beginning of the book. After the Reod, Elantrians got dark splotches on their skin and their hair falls out, and cannot die or be killed (except by drastic measures, such as burning or beheading). Their bodies do not repair themselves, so they continue to feel pain as minor injuries accumulate, eventually driving them insane. Elantrians do not need to eat, but they feel hunger pangs when they don't. Raoden is immediately sent to Elantris—once the wonder of the world, now a cursed ruin. People transformed into Elantrians are treated as dead by those outside Elantris. Raoden's storyline centers on his efforts to improve the Elantrian way of life beyond the anarchy to which it succumbed when Elantris fell. He does this by getting the Elantrians to focus on work, rather than their pains, and by getting rid of the gangs which were beating up new Elantrians upon their arrival.
  • Sarene, princess of Teod and Raoden's political bride-to-be whom he has never personally met, arrives in Arelon to discover 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 just what is going on, and to help the downtrodden common people - even those of Elantris. Sarene's storyline deals with her attempts to stabilize and improve the monarchy, which encourages nobles to mistreat the peasants, and to prevent Hrathen's intended revolution.
  • Hrathen, a Derethi gyorn (high-ranking priest), arrives in Arelon with a mandate to convert the country to the Shu Dereth religion within three months' time, or his religion's armies will come to wipe out all of its citizens. Hrathen's storyline focuses on his efforts at political maneuvering to sway the Arelene aristocracy and place a converted Derethi on the throne, and on his struggles to come to terms with the religion he is supposed to believe.


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, Raoden discovers 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.


Elantris was published by Tor Books in hardcover on April 21, 2005. Coinciding with the general release, the Science Fiction Book Club released a hardcover edition in May 2005. The Tor mass market paperback was released on May 30, 2006, and the ebook followed in April 2007. In October 2015, a "tenth anniversary author's definitive edition" was released in trade paperback and hardcover, containing "10,000 words of additional content".[3]


GraphicAudio has released Elantris as a dramatized audio production.[4] It was adapted and produced with a full cast, narrator, sound effects and music.

Recorded Books has also published an authorized audio book of Elantris.

Critical reception[edit]

Elantris was very well received by both critics and readers. Orson Scott Card said: "Elantris is the finest novel of fantasy to be written in many years. Brandon Sanderson has created a truly original world of magic and intrigue, and with the rigor of the best science fiction writers he has made it real at every level."[1] Kirkus Reviews praised the book for the fact that the book was not the first book in a series, "An epic fantasy novel that is (startlingly) not Volume One of a Neverending Sequence... [with] an unusually well-conceived system of magic... the story has some grip and it's a tremendous relief to have fruition in a single volume... A cut above the same-old."[5]

Publishers Weekly praised Sanderson's fantasy debut as being outstanding and free of the usual genre clichés, noting that it offers something for everyone, including mystery, magic, romance, politics, religious conflict and robust characters.[6]

Sequels and related works[edit]

Sanderson currently plans a sequel to Elantris, though he is not sure when it will be written.[7] He has stated that it would take place ten years after the current book's events, and centre around some of its very minor characters.[8]

He later announced plans for two books following Elantris, with Kiin's children being the main characters in Elantris Two.[9]

An e-book short story was released in 2007 entitled The Hope of Elantris. It was initially for sale on Amazon, but Sanderson released it on his own site when the contract with Amazon ran out.[10]

In 2013, Sanderson wrote a novella titled The Emperor's Soul that takes place in the world of Elantris, but in a very different region. Sanderson notes that ″you definitely don’t have to have read Elantris to appreciate it.″[11]


  1. ^ a b Card, Orson Scott (October 31, 2004). "Leaves, Lost, Halloween, Elantris". Retrieved December 18, 2010.
  2. ^ Sanderson, Brandon. "Elantris". brandonsanderson.com. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  3. ^ Sanderson, Brandon (October 5, 2015). "Elantris Tenth Anniversary Edition". Dragonsteel Entertainment. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  4. ^ "Elantris (CD Series Set)". GraphicAudio. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  5. ^ "ELANTRIS by Brandon Sanderson". Kirkus Review. May 20, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  6. ^ Bilmes, Joshua (May 1, 2005). "ELANTRIS". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  7. ^ "Elantris FAQ". Retrieved August 4, 2009.
  8. ^ Sanderson, Brandon. "Elantris Chapter 8". Archived from the original on March 23, 2006. Retrieved September 25, 2006.
  9. ^ Sanderson, Brandon. "Another Long and Rambling Post on Future Books". brandonsanderson.com. Archived from the original on October 17, 2010. Retrieved October 13, 2010.
  10. ^ Sanderson, Brandon. "The Hope of Elantris". Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  11. ^ Sanderson, Brandon. "The Emperor's Soul". BrandonSanderson.com. Retrieved April 5, 2016.

External links[edit]