Series: Legion #1
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Published: September 11, 2012 by Tor (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads / Audible)
Synopsis: 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.
Perhaps my favorite thing about this one was the plot. It was an exciting mystery with an action-packed globetrotting adventure. I'm a sucker for those kinds of books. I hate travel monologues but if your search for clues takes you to exotic locales, I'm all for it. And the mystery in this one was pretty amazing. I've become used to the "Sanderson ending" where even though there are clues along the way I'm still completely shocked by the big reveal or twist, and that is exactly what happened with Legion. It is the kind of book that I love in an audio format. It's full of action and adventure making it exciting and fun.
But part of that exciting plot was also an interesting and unique world. I'm not sure how to categorize Legion. I've heard it called Science Fiction but it's more like Low Fantasy to me, but it also has great elements of Mystery novels. It's the kind of book that I could see as a fantastic television show. Like a police procedural with a supernatural element. And that supernatural element was so unique. A man who isn't technically crazy who has different people who only he can see help him solve mysteries. It sounds confusing but Brandon Sanderson portrays this "magical system" with expert handling that makes it seem both unique and natural.
And with these "aspects" there are some interesting and likable characters to get to know. Leeds himself is a great protagonist. He's smart and resourceful but he is also far from perfect. He has his quirks and weakness that makes him fleshed-out in a short period of time. The handful of aspects that we got to know in this book were also really interesting. They all have their individual skills that help him figure things out and many of them are great comic relief, mentors, and even the voice of reason sometimes. The narrator of the audiobook did a great job of establishing who they were through their varying voices.
I give Legion by Brandon Sanderson an 8.5 out of 10
Series: Legion #2
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Published: November 24, 2014 by Tor (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads / Audible)
Synopsis: From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, Stephen Leeds is back in a new, double-length novella that Library Journal says has "the pulse of a thriller and the hook of a fascinating hero balancing on the edge of psychosis."
It's not his own genius that Stephen Leeds gets hired for. Clients want to tap into the imaginary experts that populate his mind—and it's getting a bit crowded in there.
Now Stephen and his internal team of "aspects" have been hired to track down a stolen corpse—but it's not the corpse that's important, it's what the corpse knows. The biotechnology company he worked for believes he encoded top-secret information in his DNA before he died, and if it falls into the wrong hands, that will mean disaster.
Meanwhile, Stephen's uneasy peace with his own hallucinations is beginning to fray at the edges, as he strives to understand how one of them could possibly have used Stephen's hand to shoot a real gun during the previous case. And some of those hallucinations think they know better than Stephen just how many aspects his mind should make room for. How long will he be able to hold himself together?
More is the watchword in this one. Like I said, I'm not usually a fan of short stories but if you put these two books together it definitely makes one good story. Just like the first novella, it was full of an interesting plot with a great mystery, complex characters, and an interesting world. It just had more of that!
Like the first book Legion: Skin Deep had an amazing and thrilling plot. This one kept things a little more centrally located, but it turned up the action. It felt much more like a thriller this time. Between the contract killer looking for Leeds and the hunt to find a missing body before they do, it felt much more exciting to read (well listen to). So much more exciting that I lost focus on everything else and ended up missing my exit on the highway. But maybe that was less about the action and more about the mystery. It was another slow build up of clues with a crazy mind-blowing reveal and twist and another great book to have experiences in the audio format.
The other great thing about Sanderson and this book in particular was the further exploration of this world. While I found the world that was created in the first book interesting and creative, here we got to explore it even more, making it completely fascinating. We get to meet more of the aspects, see how they work together, and even see how this affect Leeds. There were even some moments where we got to potentially learn who this people are and how they got there. It seemed much more like a Science Fiction novel this time. Plus as the synopsis says, things are fraying and Leeds is struggling to understand and hang on to things. It's definitely much more psychological this time.
Speaking of those aspects, the characters were amazing, just like the last book. We got to spend more time getting to know some of the favorites from the first book and even got to know a new character or two. And getting to know them better, we were able to see them in a more fleshed-out way making them more multi-faceted. Characters that seemed more like tropes in the first book become more complex. But Leeds was still a great main character for this story. I loved getting to know him better and be along for the ride while he solved yet another mystery.
I give Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson 9 out of 10