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I'm a fantasy fan, and I scooped this book off the shelf because it looked marginally interesting, and it also had one peculiarity: it claimed to be self-contained, not the forerunner for a lengthy fantasy series.

In general, it was an enjoyable read, however, I had several problems with it.

1.) Intellectually, the book was about as deep as damp pavement. While there was a lot of discussion of WHAT people were doing, the reasons why it was necessary were essentially left completely unmentioned. In fact, at times I wondered whether they weren't just engaging in political maneuverings because they were bored. "I'm bored" is not a really good story motivation. :)

2.) There was no bad guy until the very end of the book. Perhaps this was meant to be suspenseful. I thought it was irritating. Why? Because the bad guy wasn't the source of the problems that were conquered during the course of the story, he just wandered in and cashed in on them.

3.) The underrunning conflict was NOT resolved at the end of the story. In fact, it was pretty obvious that the author was engaging in some extraneous world-building. Which means one of two things: either he DOES want to write a series (or at least other books in the same setting), or the book suffers from a lack of elegance at tying up loose ends. It's a story, not real life, there shouldn't be loose ends.

As an aside, though, I did notice one thing that I found peculiar: Elantris is an amazingly AMERICAN book. There is a lot of talk about God that never amounts to anything. The religion itself is amazingly secularized, and all the conflict is secular! Which, actually, is kind of disheartening, because the story is supposed to be about a RELIGIOUS AGGRESSOR!! But everyone has secular motivations for everything, even the big bad evil High Priest! He's mad, not because all these folks are heathens and unbelievers, but because they failed to cure his wife of an illness!

Wow. Elantris: Religion as an excuse for the secular goals of a bunch of bored people. Oy.

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