by Brandon Sanderson
Published October 2012 by
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.
Stephen Leeds is very sought after–by reporters, scientists, and people needing help–and he prefers to stay in the company of his butler and the multitude of personalities that manifest themselves as hallucinations that only he can see. These hallucinations have fully formed personalities, quirks, and skill sets, and they often swoop in to help Stephen when he needs them. While he wants to be left alone, Stephen doesn’t get much peace since he’s famous for his mental condition as well as his supposed genius.
In Legion, Stephen is approached by a woman who wants his help to track down a scientist that has gone missing. This scientist has invented a camera that can take pictures of any event in the past, and Stephen recognizes the great societal, political, and religious ramifications that camera can have on the world. So off Stephen goes with a handful of his hallucinations (who are extremely helpful and much smarter than Stephen is) with the woman in tow to the Middle East to track down the scientist, and that’s when this story really takes off.
Brandon Sanderson has written a fun, thoughtful, and smart science fiction book about a man who uses his multiple personalities at will to solve the problems before him. I’m giving this novella a 3.5 out of 5 because it took quite a while to get into the real meat of the story before things started to roll along. Legion is full of brilliant character interactions and smart plotting, but it just didn’t feel quite finished–especially for a novella length work.
Get your own Audiobooks at Audible: Legion.
I downloaded the audiobook of Legion when it was free on Audible in December 2012 after hearing it advertised after the Writing Excuses podcast that author Brandon Sanderson does along with three other authors. This novella came in at two hours and eight minutes. Narrator Oliver Wyman does an excellent job of portraying the varied characters in Legion–from the female aspects of different nationalities to the woman who wants the camera back, to the different male characters within the novella. I highly recommend checking out the audiobook for this one.