Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Princess Sarene of Teod sets out for Arelon to make a political marriage with Crown Prince Raoden. When she arrives she is informed she is his widow and the marriage contract forbids her from ever marrying again. She is determined to protect Arelon and Teod from the Fjordell who are determined to conquer Teod and Arelon. She quickly makes friends with Raoden's friends who help her with her political intrigue. As her widows trial, she starts to feed the people who are entombed in Elantris.
Raoden (known as Spirit inside Elantris) isn't actually dead, taken by the Shaod, he is one of the living dead who have been entombed in the decaying city of Elantris. Determined to figure out why the Elantrians lost their magical abilities and the city and Elantrians are decaying, Raoden forms alliances with those already there and begins to renew their hope. When he finds a library with books, he sets to work studying the Aons in hopes of learning how to fix Elantris.
Hrathen arrives in Arelon determined to convert the populace to the Shu Dereth religion. If he can't convert the city in 3 months his Fjordell Master will conquer it and many lives will be lost, but unbeknownst to Hrathen a local Fjordell priest, Dilaf is determined to kill all the citizens of Teod and Arelon and burn Elantris to the ground due to the death of his wife, who the Elantrians were unable to heal. He undermines Hrathen every chance he gets to the point Hrathen takes poison that mimics the Shaod. Hrathen is thrown into Elantris but 5 days later after beseeching his God he is "healed" when the poison wears off and returns to Arelon.
While he was in Elantris Sarene uncovered the fact that King Iadon was making human sacrifices, which resulted in his arrest. Unable to face the disgrace King Iadon committed suicide. As the "richest man" in Elantris Hrathen's puppet, Telril is posed to take the throne. A desperate scheme is hatched for Roial and Princess Sarene to wed combining their wealth and making Roial the richest so he can take the throne. Before they can wed Serene is supposedly taken by the Shaod and cast into Elantris. Spirit befriends her and they quickly fall in love, but in 5 days time she is cured and returned to Arelon just as Hrathen planned. Telril is already on the throne and the "friends" meet to hatch a plan to usurp him.
Raoden figures out the Aons enough to make a disguise and returns to Arelon as the Dula Kaloo, along with his servant Galladon. Roial quickly befriends "Kaloo" and invites him to join the conspirators. Ahan betrays them to King Telril who orders their execution to Ahan's dismay. Roial is killed and only by revealing himself as Raoden is Raoden able to prevent the execution of the others. Telril flees from Raoden and his soldiers follow him. Eondel follows with his men and assassinates Telril in revenge. Dilaf uses the chaos to start rounding up the citizens of Arelon and attacking the Elantrians. Raoden is attacked and left for dead and Dilaf uses magic to take Hrathen and Sarene to Teod. Where Dilaf plans to use Sarene as a hostage to force the King of Teod to surrender the city.
Galladon enlist Karata's aid to help him take Raoden to the pool, but before they drop him in Raoden comes back to his right mind and has the answer to fixing Elantris. They fight desperately to get to the Aon that powers Elantris, so Raoden can fix it. He fixes it just in time to save the citizens of Arelon and Elantris who were fixing to be burned alive by Dilaf's men.
Raoden is dismayed to find that Sarene has been whisked away to Teod and gambles on using a Aon to reach her in time. Hrathen who has fallen for Sarene gives his life to save her and Raoden
The Fjordell are defeated. Raoden and Sarene are wed and Elantris returns to the magical place it once was.
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