Legion by Brandon Sanderson
Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion,” is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society. The action ranges from the familiar environs of America to the ancient, divided city of Jerusalem.
Brandon Sanderson is one of the main reasons I become so enamored with the fantasy genre. His Mistborn trilogy set the bar, and set it high, for an epic fantasy that delivered on all of its promises and made me want to come back for more. Often known as “that magic systems guy” Sanderson does an exceptional job at creating convincing, well-thought out systems of magic that have you smacking yourself in the head for not thinking of it first. His level of description and characterization are top-notch and I have yet to find a story from this author that has disappointed.
So, naturally I picked up this book when it was available for pre-order. Despite it being more urban fantasy, an area Sanderson hasn’t touched on much, he had built up enough faith with me to warrant a look.
Immediately, I fell in love with the main character Stephen Leeds. Between the man himself and his “Aspects,” imaginary people with very real personalities and very real skills, I was left laughing and nodding me head in approval at what amounted to conversations and scenes with imaginary people. You get wonderful moments such as a butler trying to hand a drink to an aspect, but the aspect is across the room, real people walking through an aspect – one who is convinced he is a real person instead of imaginary, taking 2 cars for 3 real people and 3-4 imaginary, and of course, conversations between aspects and the people who can’t see them.
All of this comes together to make a story about characters at heart. The interactions and personalities of everyone is exceptionally well-done and worth the price of admission alone.
Sanderson also does an excellant job creating a story that has history and depth to its characters and plot. There’s mention of a woman from Stephen Leed’s past, who helped him manage and control his mental disorder and subsequently vanished 10 years prior to the book. In a particularly funny scene early on you get the constant deluge of grad students trying to write a paper on our main hero, through any means possible. An occurrence that is more common than not.
The plot is intriguing and had me smiling with its typical Sanderson fashion of stuff I should have thought of but didn’t. A man whose invented a camera that takes pictures of the past has gone missing, with the device. Much like our main character, when I first heard this concept I nodded along without truly thinking of the ramifications of what such a camera could do to society as we know it. The conflict of faith-based religions being foremost in the realm of possibilities.
I managed to finish this book in only a couple of hours. At 84 pages, it isn’t a book that will take hours upon hours to read, which is my biggest complaint, especially at the price point. But it has an interesting concept, the writing is superb, and finally, comes highly recommended. If you don’t mind shelling out a few extra bucks for the cloth bound edition on Subterranean Press this is one story you shouldn’t miss. Although dont’ let the price scare you away, as it can be found for a little cheaper on other websites, Amazon.