Friday, January 4, 2013

Book Review: Legion by Brandon Sanderson

Legion is a novella by Brandon Sanderson that tells the story of a man who has a unique form of mental illness that allows him to hallucinate various personalities, each of whom has a unique set of skills.  He is aware that they are hallucinations, but he interacts with them as if they were individuals - and his vast array of knowledge makes him sought after as a mercenary.

While I really like Sanderson as an author, I wasn't thrilled with this one.  Luke has been pushing me to read it ever since he got it.  He loved it.  But it's a novella and I really, really don't like novellas.  I love short stories and I love novels, but I find novellas to be awkward on the whole.  It's too long to make the kind of statement that short stories are known for, but it's also not long enough to get to know and care for the characters.

That was my main problem with this book: I liked the main character and was interested in his condition and his motivations, especially the loss of his lover/therapist, but the book is just too short to go into any detail on these things.  Aspects that would make great subplots in a novel took up too much space in a novella and wound up taking away from the plot and making all the characters simplistic and poorly developed.  I really wish Sanderson would rework this story or character as a novel, because I think the concept is fascinating, but it didn't work in this format.

Entertainment Value
I liked it and was certainly entertained, but because of the length I felt like just when I was finally into the story and getting to know the characters, the whole thing started winding up.  I didn't get to know anyone the way I would have liked and there were way too many characters for the length.  I couldn't get past the way the story wraps up so quickly.  It went by way too fast for me to recommend as an entertaining read.  Sanderson is a master of the slow buildup, but in a novella there's no time for that.

I think your time would be better spent reading one of his novels - especially the Mistborn books!

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