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Elantris Reread: Chapter Sixty-Two


<em>Elantris</em> Reread: Chapter Sixty-Two

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Rereads and Rewatches Brandon Sanderson

Elantris Reread: Chapter Sixty-Two

Teleportation, epic showdowns, unrequited love (and also requited love), and math!

By ,

Published on February 22, 2024

Header image for the Elantris reread

Happy Thursday, Cosmere Chickens! And welcome back to the Elantris reread! The Sanderlanche is fully sanderlanching along and we finally, FINALLY get to see Raoden use Aons with the full power of the Dor! He heals, he travels across the ocean in seconds, and he does a big bada-boom! Won’t you come check it out with us?

(Non-)Spoiler warning: This week’s article has no spoilers from other Cosmere works. Read on fearlessly, chickens!

Trigger warnings: Murder, war, injuries to various body parts (hands, sides, necks)

Last time on Elantris: Powers Returned…

Hrathen finally decides to be a Good Guy and saves Sarene, leading her away from Dilaf and giving her father a warning that saves his life.

Raoden, who had been pushed into the Pool, does not dissolve and instead emerges with the secret to Dor. He rushes down to the city and draws the line that completes the symbol, thereby releasing its power and completing the transformation of the Elantrians. All of those thrown onto the pyre emerge, essentially immortal; it’s too late to save Karata, however, who was beheaded before the transformation was completed. Choosing to show mercy, Raoden lets the Dakhor monks go.

Chapter Essentials

POV Character(s): Raoden, Sarene, Hrathen

Map of Sycla from Brandon Sanderson's Elantris


“You talk as if Teod will fall,” Sarene whispered back. “You may go, priest, but I will not leave my homeland.”

“If you value its safety, you will,” Hrathen snapped. “I know Dilaf—he is a man obsessed. If you stay in Teod, so will he. If you leave, perhaps he will follow.”

L: Because that’s not a terrifying thought or anything.

P: Terrifying, yes. But she’d do it to save her father, if only temporarily.

“My problem is with Wyrn, not God.”

L: Ah, and there we have it. The problem isn’t with the doctrine itself, but with the clergy.

P: That’s often where the problem lies, with the clergy. But that’s a conversation for another day.

One thing, however, kept him from despair—the knowledge that whatever else happened to him, no matter what he had done, he could say that he now followed the truth in his heart.

L: I find this kind of endearing, really. Hrathen’s finally following his own moral compass instead of one dictated to him by his religion.

P: As it should be! Individuals might believe in a higher deity, it’s possible to be a good person without adhering to the demands of said deity.

Sarene doesn’t get it. She has no clue how Hrathen feels—of course, he doesn’t even really acknowledge it himself. At least, not until he’s dying in the street.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

P: Men are so stubborn.

L: Speaking of which…

The thought crossed his mind right before he felt the stab of pain in his chest. He reached over in surprise, grunting as he brought his hand up. His fingers were stained with blood.

Back to Past!Brandon:

Okay, so not all of the random surprises were cut from the book. I considered writing Fjon’s appearance out of the book on several occasions, and I also played with several ways of using this scene. Eventually, I settled on what you see now–which was my original version. I realize this is a kind of ‘out-of-nowhere’ shock. If I were writing this book today, I’d probably have cut this one. … Looking back on it now, I still worry about this scene. Perhaps the book would have felt more professional if I’d just taken Hrathen out with a stab from Dilaf or one of his monks. The Fjon shock just wasn’t built up enough to earn its place in the book. However, at the same time, a piece of me likes the fact that this one event is completely random.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

Thus, Fjon returns:

His name was Fjon—the priest Hrathen had sent home from Kae the very day he had arrived.

L: In the section after Sarene’s, we learn more about what Fjon’s been up to since Hrathen sent him away…

P: And what Wyrn’s been up to.

How had Wyrn known that Fjon would find Hrathen here, on the streets of Teoras of all places? Fjon would probably never know; Lord Jaddeth moved in ways beyond the understanding of men. But Fjon had performed his duty. His period of penance was over.

She would never know that he had come to love her.

L: Ah, doomed love. And in this moment when he’s fully executed his face turn… he dies. Or… does he?

P: And unrequited doomed love, at that.

She had fought him over the fate of two countries, but had never really known who he was. She never would.

L: It’s a shame that Hrathen dies here, because I think he could have been such a cool character if he’d continued to atone for his past sins.

P: Yeah, it was a shame for him to die. But killing Dilaf helps with that atonement a smidge.

“You know, you could have left a scar. I had to go through an awful lot to get that wound—you should have seen how courageous I was. My grandchildren are going to be disappointed that I don’t have any scars to show them.”

Here’s a relevant note from Past!Brandon:

Comic relief shouldn’t be underestimated, I think. Especially comic relief like this–jests and levity given in-character by people who are trying to lighten the mood of a stressful time. Lukel isn’t there simply to entertain the reader, he’s there to show a different side of human reaction.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

L: I’ve always felt that one of Brandon’s greatest strengths is his comic relief characters. It’s a hard skill to get right. Too much can seem clownish and unrealistic; too little can seem dour and unfunny. But somehow, he always manages to hit that sweet spot.

P: I also find his comic relief characters to be just right. I know he catches a lot of hell from some fans for not writing them well, but in my opinion, they’re fantastic.

“Your Majesty!” Ashe said, zipping across the courtyard. “A seon just spoke with me. The princess! She is in Teoras, my lord. My kingdom is under attack as well!”

L: Good old Ashe, coming through in the clutch!

P: I want a seon so bad!

They parted as they realized who he was, some kneeling and mumbling “Your Majesty.” Their voices were awed. In him they saw a return to their former lives. Hopeful, luxurious lives filled with ample food and time. Lives nearly forgotten over a decade of tyranny.

L: Oh how quickly they’re forgetting how they looked down on the Elantrians and locked them in their city, treating them like lepers… And now they just expect everything to go back to normal?

P: I like to think there’s a healthy amount of fear there, knowing how poorly they’ve treated the Elantrians for the past ten years. Would all of the people they left to rot inside of a dead Elantris want revenge now that they were returned to power?

Raoden’s hand fell slowly to his side. He was no geographer; he knew Teod was about four days’ sail, but he had no practical knowledge of how many miles or feet that was. He had to work a frame of reference into Aon Tia, give it some sort of measurement, so that it knew how far to send him.

“One million, fifty-four thousand, four hundred and forty-two,” said a voice from behind Raoden.

P: Here’s Raoden trying to transport himself to Teod to save Sarene, with no knowledge about how far he has to tell the Aon to take him. And then someone tells him. ::squee::

Adien always existed in the book for this one moment—to give Raoden the length measurement he needed to go try to save Sarene. I’ve established that Seons have perfect senses of direction, and I’ve talked about how to use Aon Tia. More importantly, I think I’ve established that this is something that Raoden would do. He gets just a shade foolhardy when Sarene is concerned.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

Back to Adien’s big moment:

The young man, looking strikingly like Lukel now that he was healed, stepped forward. “I … I feel like my entire life has been a dream, Raoden. I remember everything that happened. But I couldn’t interact—I couldn’t say anything. That’s changed now, but one thing remains the same. My mind … I’ve always been able to figure numbers…”

L: If he does wind up being the protagonist of book 2, I’ll be very interested to see how that turns out…

P: It will be so fun!

A figure dashed between the surprised line of monks, scrambling toward Sarene. His skin was silvery, his hair a blazing white, his face …


Another note to consider from Past!Brandon:

[DAMSEL IN DISTRESS] Now, I’d just like to note here that Raoden’s just returning a favor. Sarene is the one who gave him the clue that led to his fixing the Aons, then finally restoring Elantris. Now that she’s in danger, he gets to rescue her in turn. Just because someone finds themselves in danger or trouble does not mean that they themselves aren’t competent.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

L: I’m not sure that I really buy this one, but I think Brandon’s grown and matured beyond this mind-set (he wrote these annotations a long time ago) so I’ll give him a pass on it.

“Not much of a rescue,” Sarene muttered, stepping forward to stand next to Raoden, staring down the group of monstrosities with a contemptuous air.

Her defiant irony brought a smile to Raoden’s lips. “Next time, I’ll remember to bring an army with me.”

L: Definitely bringing me shades of Star Wars: A New Hope. “Some rescue this is turning out to be!” “Perhaps you’d prefer to be back in your cell, Your Highness?” (Now, if Sarene picked up a blaste—I mean, drew an Aon, and started dispatching Dakhor monks left and right, maybe I wouldn’t still have reservations about her being a damsel in distress!)

P: Too bad the Shaod was just her being poisoned and not actually real.

Elantris is like a massive power conduit. It focuses the Dor, strengthening its power (or, rather, the power of the Aons to release it) in Arelon. This far away from Elantris, however, the Aons are about as powerful as they were before Raoden fixed Elantris.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

And then we get this moment:

When she finally dared open her eyes, they were surrounded by hundreds of silver-skinned forms.

“Aon Daa!” Galladon ordered in a booming voice.

Two hundred hands lifted in the air, scribbling Aons. About half of them made mistakes, their Aons evaporating. Enough finished, however, to send a wave of destruction toward Dilaf’s men that was so powerful it tore completely through the first few monks.

L: Yeah… This is pretty badass, not going to lie.

P: COMPLETELY badass! And impressive that half of them actually managed to complete the Aon! Galladon must have given a quick lesson before they left Elantris.

In the original write of the book, the Dakhor broke and ran before the Elantrian attack. … In a rewrite, however, I changed this. I’d spent too much time establishing that the Dakhor were fiercely loyal. I see them as fanatics—people who were either originally like Dilaf, or who became like him through their conditioning. They wouldn’t break before a superior force—they’d attack it, even if it meant getting slaughtered.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

Returning to the battle:

…only Dilaf bore the power that made him resistant to attacks by the Dor—a capacity that had required the deaths of fifty men to create. He felt, rather than saw, as his men were torn apart by the Elantrians’ attack.

L: How convenient. I’d also like to point out that this “it took fifty deaths to imbue this ability to them” thing sounds an awful lot like hemalurgy.

P: Right? Such a waste of life.

If his heart stopped again, Raoden would die. Elantrians were strong and quick-healing, but they were not immortal.

L: Oh, interesting. Very different Investiture from the Returned in Warbreaker, then.

P: Very different, indeed. It’s scary how reduced their power is when not in/near Elantris, too.

Dilaf laughed, tapping Raoden on the side of the face with the tip of his sword. “The skaze are right, then. Elantrians are not indestructible.”

P: Ooh… skaze??

(…if you caught the reference to the word ‘Skaze,’ then good for you. The Skaze are a group that will appear in the sequel, when and if I get around to writing it. They’re pretty much evil Seons.)

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

But leave it to Sarene to interrupt a premature gloating session:

“No one defeats the Teo armada, priest,” a feminine voice interjected, a blade flashing out to strike at Dilaf’s head.

The priest yelped, barely bringing his own sword up in time to block Sarene’s attack. She had found a sword somewhere, and she whipped it in a pattern that moved too quickly for Raoden to track.

L: Now see that’s what I’m talking about! Atta girl, Sarene! GET HIM!

P: She gives it the old stubborn Teo princess try!

The battle ended as Dilaf’s sword pierced her shoulder. Sarene’s weapon clanged to the cobblestones, and she stumbled, slumping down next to Raoden.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

L: Aww. Well, that’s okay, Sarene. You tried. That’s what’s important.

P: Our princess would die before not trying.

There’s really only one way this battle could have ended—Dilaf had to win. Raoden might know his Aons, but Dilaf has been a Dakhor for decades. Sarene has practiced fencing, but Dilaf is a warrior monk with a supernaturally fast and powerful body. Both Sarene and Raoden are people who succeed not based on their ability to beat up their enemies, but on their ability to manipulate their surroundings. By having the heroes defeated in combat by the villain at the end, I think I give a final nod to my desire to write a book that didn’t use violence as the solution to problems.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

All seems lost—when suddenly, a shadowy form emerges from an alleyway:

A figure stumbled from the darkness, holding his side in pain. The figure was a tall, broad-chested man with dark hair and determined eyes. Though the man no longer wore his armor, Raoden recognized him. The gyorn, Hrathen.

P: Hrathen to the unexpected rescue!

So, Hrathen wasn’t really dead. (Ironically, while many of you are probably saying ‘yeah, yeah. That was obvious,’ I actually didn’t have him appear here in the first eight drafts of the book. I’ll explain later.)

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

Huh. Okay!

Hrathen stopped, then whipped his arm out from beneath his cloak. Dilaf’s sword hit the flesh of Hrathen’s forearm.

And stopped.

L: As part of his training as a Dakhor monk, Hrathen would have at least started to undergo the creepy conditioning that would have given him twisted, inhumanly strong bones. And so, he uses their own training against them.

P: I thought we had just seen him bare from the waist up, but maybe I was mistaken.

Hrathen held Dilaf aloft, as if toward the heavens. He stared upward, toward the sky, eyes strangely unfocused, Dilaf proffered like some sort of holy offering. The gyorn stood there for a long moment, immobile, arm glowing, Dilaf becoming more and more frantic.

There was a snap. Dilaf stopped struggling. Hrathen lowered the body with a slow motion, then tossed it aside, the glow in his arm fading. He looked toward Raoden and Sarene, stood quietly for a moment, then toppled forward lifelessly.

L: What a great ending for such a despicable villain!

P: It was quite riveting, wasn’t it?

The short of [the original ending], however, is that Ien (Raoden’s Seon) showed up to save Raoden and Sarene from Dilaf. I used a mechanic of the magic system that I have since pretty much cut from the novel (since it was only in the book to facilitate this scene) that allowed Ien to complete his Aon, ‘healing’ Dilaf. Except, since Ien’s Aon was broken, it turned Dilaf into an Elantrian instead.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

L: …wow. I’m glad that Moshe had you change it, Past!Brandon.

P: Yeah, that would have been a head scratching moment for me.

In the end, I was very pleased with the rewrite. It’s good to have an editor.

Annotation, Brandon Sanderson

L: Let this be a lesson to all you aspiring writers out there… listen to your editors!

P: They definitely know what they’re talking about!

We’ll be leaving further speculation and discussion to you in the comments, and hope to join you there! Next week, we’ll be back with chapter 63. icon-paragraph-end

About the Author

Paige Vest


Paige resides in New Mexico, of course. Between work and school and the SA5 beta read, she’s trying to work on book 3 of a YA/Crossover trilogy with just a hint of the supernatural. Links to her other writing are available in her profile.
Learn More About Paige

About the Author

Lyndsey Luther


Lyndsey lives in Connecticut. She’s in the process of closing on a house (yes, in this dreadful market) so please wish her the best of luck, and follow her on Facebook or TikTok!
Learn More About Lyndsey
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