by Brandon Sanderson
Published by Subterranean Press, August 31, 2012
88 Pages • ISBN 978-1596064850 • Hardcover
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Brandon Sanderson is one of the most significant fantasists to enter the field in a good many years. His ambitious, multi-volume epics (Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive) and his stellar continuation of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series have earned both critical acclaim and a substantial popular following. In Legion, a distinctly contemporary novella filled with suspense, humor, and an endless flow of invention, Sanderson reveals a startling new facet of his singular narrative talent.
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. Resonant, intelligent, and thoroughly absorbing, Legion is a provocative entertainment from a writer of great originality and seemingly limitless gifts.
Continuing my Brandon Sanderson marathon, I listened to the audio of Legion today. Legion, a novella published thru Subterranean Press, follows Stephen Leeds (Legion), who has the unique ability to create multiple personalities when he needs them to fill a particular roll in his life or he needs to learn something new: for instance, Stephen needs to learn a new language? Suddenly he has a new hallucinatory personality that will teach him French. These personalities are unique individuals who interact with Stephen and each other, yet no on else can see them. Stephen even goes so far as to live in a huge mansion, with enough rooms for each of his personalities to live in.
Because of his unique ability (or psychosis), he has been studied by the medical community and has used his personalities to help those that can afford to hire him. When Balubal Razon, the inventor of a camera of unique and potentially devastating consequences, goes missing, Stephen is hired to help find him. This search takes him on an adventure around the world, and the result of his search proved to be one that I expected, but didn't see coming the way it did.
What was amazing was the questions that Sanderson brings up in such a short work: questions of history, time, morality, politics, and faith. This is an ingenious little piece of writing and a character that I hope Sanderson will work with again in the future.