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. Along the way, Sanderson touches on a formidable assortment of complex questions: the nature of time, the mysteries of the human mind, the potential uses of technology, and the volatile connection between politics and faith.
Yep, Brandon Sanderson is at it again. This time we get Legion, a novella length story about a schizophrenic man named Stephen Leeds who can summon hallucinations, or aspects, with very specific skillsets – languages, military tactics, theology, interrogation, etc. This is a reasonably short read, especially by Sanderson’s standards, and in the end I think the ideas Sanderson is playing with are just too big for a novella length story to do justice. It’s still an excellent read, as most things from Sanderson seem to be, but it was just missing the little something that would have taken this book to the next level.
Leeds is a man for hire, and he charges large sums of money to solve special cases through the combined efforts of his aspects. These aspects take on life in Leeds’ mind, and even though nobody else can see them, he must accommodate for each of them as if they were real people just to keep his sanity – things like living in a mansion with enough bedrooms for everyone, and buying extra seats on a plane for each aspect travelling with him.
The reason I’m going on so much about these aspects is that the relationship between Leeds and his aspects is the heart and soul of this story. Yeah, there is a plot about some sort of special camera, but the interesting parts of this story are the interplay between the aspects (one also suffers from schizophrenia, while another two are in a whirlwind relationship), and limitations of using aspects, and the way Leeds is forced to fend for himself during times when his aspects cannot help him. Watching Leeds become a more capable person is scary though – what will happen to the aspects he loves if he no longer has need of them.
This is an awesome concept with awesome characters and that familiar Sanderson style of writing. I feel like with all this awesomeness around the place, the plot never gets a chance to shine through and become a meaningful aspect of the story (see what I did there… yeah I’m probably going to the special Hell they reserve for book reviewers). This would be perfect as an episodic TV Series, and Sanderson has confirmed that he has signed a deal to try and make this happen. An excellent Saturday morning read.
Ryan Lawler, 8.2/10
“My name is Stephen Leeds, and I am perfectly sane. My hallucinations, however, are all quite mad.”
It’s an opening line to catch the attention of any type of reader no matter their previous predilection. Given that the subsequent story is novella-length, I challenge you to not finish and thoroughly enjoy ‘Legion’ by Brandon Sanderson.
Unquestionably one of the fantasy genre’s most adept talents, Brandon Sanderson has managed to weave a story that is utterly brilliant from the get-go and doesn’t stop until you’re sitting looking at the last page, hoping for more.
In that regard, it does tend towards the “let’s write a story that I can write more about in the future” type of short-story, as it is most certainly not wholly contained. Nevertheless, the thrill ride and metaphysical questions raised amidst one of the most intelligently written short-stories I’ve read makes this a must have.
It’s a whodunit, without much of the mystery of a regular whodunit. It wasn’t the butler, and it wasn’t really anyone at all. But the ride along with the various hallucinations, the mechanics behind Stephen Leeds’ mind, and what it all really means for him, is arguably unique.
Definitely worth the half an hour necessary to read this fantastic story.
Joshua S Hill, 9/10
What did you think about Legion?
Submit your own reader review and award the book the rating you think it deserves.