I was quite excited to receive a limited edition, signed, hard-cover of Brandon Sanderson’s newest novella, Legion, in the mail. Since Sanderson is known as an epic fantasy writer, this slim, contemporary, detective story is a bit of a departure.
The fact is, I bought it the book without even looking at the description. That right there says something about my opinion about Sanderson’s writing. I’m a big fan of his. I enjoyed Elantris, Mistborn, his first book in his new epic series The Stormlight Archive, and of course, his work continuing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, which is outstanding.
Legion is based upon a very intriguing concept. The main character, our narrator, has multiple “aspects,” that is, multiple distinct people in his head, who he acknowlegdes are hallucinations.
The way this story is told, these aspects are distinct characters. They have physical appearances, they have distinct personalities, and they have specialties. One is very knowledgeable about firearms, one is able to read people quite well and understand whether they’re lying, another is a historian and has a huge knowledge about history and philosophy.
Steve our narrator, works as a sort of private detective, a sort of Sherlock Holmes who charges outrageous sums to solve mysteries.
The plot of Legion, which I presume will be the first of a series, revolves around the search for a scientist who developed a camera that could take pictures of the past. I can’t offer much more without spoiling it, but it’s good fun with a bit of action, some sleuthing, and quite a bit of humor.
I should note that Sanderson thanks that his friend, Dan Wells, in the dedication for coming up with the idea. How much of the idea, we don’t know, but Brandon Sanderson executes it flawlessly.
One of the things I found very interesting as a writer is that the writing style is quite different from how Brandon writes his epic fantasies. It’s sparser, much less descriptive, but appropriate for the length of the story and also the genre. It was engaging from the start and filled with humor. I did note a sort of clunky sentence here and there, which I write off to perhaps a shorter editorial cycle, and maybe a few fewer revision passes. But what do I really know? I’m just guessing, and whatever deficiencies the novella had, was made up for by the brilliance of the concept.
I highly recommend this to Brandon Sanderson fans or anyone who likes a good mystery detective story. It very much reminded me of the current BBC Sherlock Holmes television show, and I instantly thought that this character and his host of hallucination personas would be an amazing TV series. Let’s hope somebody in Hollywood is reading this, and has the exact same idea. Get it, read it, love it.