Elantris, written by popular fantasy author Brandon Sanderson, tends to fall under the radar when talking about his best books considering it is a small standalone story while he has written massive series and 1000 page books. Despite this, and despite being his first book, it not only manages to hold up well, but it is an incredible book in its own right. Often, books in the fantasy genre feel boring and similar, and they often follow the same formula with the same menagerie. Elantris is different. It tells a much more unique story, one of a fallen city, and a dangerous religion. The world and the world-building that the book creates, telling the stories of the past while fleshing out the present are incredible, and it makes the world seem real.
Elantris follows three characters, Raoden, a prince who has fallen ill to the mysterious illness that killed the godlike Elantrians, Sarene, a princess of a faraway land who was supposed to marry Raoden before he was outcast due to the disease, and Hrathen, a dangerous priest from afar away empire that is trying to take over Arelon, the country where all three are at and where the story takes place. All three characters are incredibly well written, and the chapters are from a 3rd person limited perspective of one of the three characters. The story is incredible, making twists and turns, starting slowly as it introduces the world and its characters, but picking up steam until the explosive final conflict. As they battle over the politics in Arelon, or work to survive against the dangerous illness while learning about what it truly is, all of the characters feel real. The only problem with Elantris is that the characters can sometimes be too perfect. It takes a while before something goes wrong for the characters, but when it does it strengthens them considerably.
All in all, Elantris is one of the most unique fantasy novels, with a compelling story that takes the right twists and turns, and ending in a climax that makes the book nearly impossible to put down. Despite its minor shortcomings, it still deserves a 5/5, and any fantasy fan—or even readers who do not normally care for fantasy novels—should give it a try.