Friday, January 23, 2015

Review: Legion

Legion by Brandon Sanderson
Legion #1
Published September 11th 2012 by Dragonsteel Entertainment

A novella from #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, Legion is a fast-paced, witty, and supremely fun thriller with a psychological bent.

Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad.

A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems…for a price.

His brain is getting a little crowded, however, and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects.
Legion is a short story that delivers in a big way.  At a mere 88-pages, it managed to draw me into a story that was unlike anything I've ever read - and leave me wanting more.  Once again, Brandon Sanderson delivers with addictive storytelling, unique characters and a premise unlike all others.  What's even more impressive is that this isn't Sanderson's usual fare; not by a long shot.

Legion tells the story of Stephen Leeds, who's known to most people as a reclusive oddity...to put it mildly.  You see, Stephen has a variety of other personalities, or aspects as he likes to refer to them. He's been labeled as a schizophrenic by most, but that isn't quite right. Stephen knows it, and other specialists seem to suspect it too.  The thing is, Stephen's aspects can learn things.  Independently.  One aspect can learn a new language, or war tactics, or what have you and then transmit that information to Stephen without him having learned those things himself.  What's more is that he can summon new aspects as needed, if the situation calls for a particular skill-set that he or his current aspects don't possess. This in turn makes Stephen seem like an expert in any given field.  And it explains why outsiders see him as a genius.  Crazy too, but a genius all the same. Sure the guy may have some mental issues, but his abilities go above and beyond the usual, and to me that comes across as some sort of special power or even super-human ability.

The book kicks off with Stephen and his aspects being recruited by a government official to find a missing invention with potentially earth-shattering possibilities.  A camera that is able to take pictures of the past.  Like, let's say years later, you were to go to the exact spot your parents first met. You could take a picture of the spot in the present day and the picture would show your parents there, in the past.  Only you haven't travelled back in time, only the camera did.  In this sense, Legion deals with the wibbly-wobbly concept of time-travel, without straying too far from realism of actual real life.  It's easier to swallow a 'magical' item than actual time-travel...for the skeptics, I suppose ;)

I won't get into the finer details of the implications of this camera, or any more plot details for that matter. Considering this is a novella, any more info I'd want to share could be considered spoiler-ish.  Suffice it to say that Legion is a bit hard to classify.  It has elements of a psychological thriller mixed in with a dash of sci-fi and magical realism.   Classifications aside though, this was an engaging, wholly-original and quick read that left me wanting more.  Sanderson does it again!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

25 comments:

  1. That actually sounds really cool! And it's good to know the author made it such a good read in a small amount of pages :)

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    1. It really was, Sanderson really never disappoints ;)

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  2. I would read this book only for its cover. It's really good.
    Your review makes it sounds like a good read
    Ruty @Reading...Dreaming

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    1. Thanks Ruty, I hope you get to read it soon :)

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  3. Ooh- that is a very cool cover! Stephen sounds like such a unique character, and I am especially intrigued by the camera. Will have to check this out for sure! :D

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    1. I love this version of the cover too! And Stephen was so trippy and brilliant XD I already need more haha!

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  4. I read this a couple of months ago but I haven't gotten around to reviewing it yet. I thought it was a lot of fun, and you're right, it's not the usual Sanderson fare but it's still fantastic and made me want more! Wibbly wobbly time travel is the best kind ;)

    - Kritika @ Snowflakes & Spider silk

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    1. Agreed on your wibbly wobbly time travel comment ;D It definitely wasn't Sanderson's usual but at this point I feel like the man can make any genre/style work!

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  5. Glad you enjoyed the book! It's amazing how much Brandon Sanderson covered in this novella, it was certainly action-packed xD Still have yet to pick up the second novella though (soon, soon :))...

    (I can't remember, I think this is the first time I'm posting here since the domain change and with the new WP username...it's Lianne formerly of caffeinatedlife.net ;))

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    1. Hi Lianne, I think it is the first since the domain change/username switch. I'll have to make sure I follow all the new ways ;)) And I think you said it the best: it's amazing how much Sanderson covered in such a short amount of pages! I need to get to the 2nd one soon too :D

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  6. Fabulous review. I have plans to listen to the audiobook soon, figure I'll be able to knock it out in a single afternoon. Looking forward to it now more than ever :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. Thanks Mogsy! I'd say you could easily make an afternoon of it and it would be time well spent :)

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  7. Hmm, I'm intrigued. The concept is definitely unique, and the idea seems really well thought out. Still haven't read anything by Brandon Sanderson yet but maybe this will be my first!

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    1. Oh Alise YOU MUST read SOMETHING by Sanderson. If not this, then Mistborn. And if you're into long ass high-fantasy series', you should do The Way of Kings O.O

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    2. I know, I really should! Mistborn seems to be the go to recommendation people like to give me so there's obviously something amazing about that book ;) Looks like my library has a lot of his stuff so I really have no excuse now xD Should I try Mistborn or Steelheart first?

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  8. I'm always amazed at how much of a punch Sanderson can pack into a novella! I normally am not really into novellas but I've read all but one of his and LOVE them! I assume you'll be starting Skin Deep soon then?? :D

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    1. I'd gotten pretty skeptical of novellas but lately I've been having SUCH luck with them. Of course, I knew Sanderson wouldn't let me down :D Skin Deep? ASAP!!

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  9. I've never read anything by Sanderson, but I've heard of him, and the synopsis alone has me intrigued - imagine being able to do what he does! Sounds like a perfectly written short story, I'm going to give it a go ;)

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

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    1. Seriously though, his abilities were odd to be sure but also amazing and brilliant to witness in action. I hope you read something by Sanderson soon ;)

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  10. Woah that premise!! Unreal. I'm surprised Sanderson was able to formulate such a complex idea within the space of a novella and still have room for action. But I guess if there's anything you have taught me, it's that Sanderson can do it if no one else can! Excellent review!

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    1. Awesome, right? The only thing I'd change was that I wish it was a full length story so I could spend more time with Leeds in his crazy reality! And I *do* seem to have made my point with Sanderson heh

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  11. This sounds so cool! Too bad it's only a short with 88 pages! :O This could be a really coll book, like hundreds of pages. I could definitely use an aspect myself!

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