Audiobook Review: Legion by Brandon Sanderson

Audiobook Review: Legion by Brandon SandersonLegion by Brandon Sanderson
Narrator: Oliver Wyman
Length: 2 hrs, 8 mins
Series: Legion #1
Published by Audible Frontiers on October 2, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Time Travel
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

Brandon Sanderson is one of the most significant fantasists to enter the field in a good many years. His ambitious, multi-volume epics (MistbornThe 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 week of being disappointed in Brandon Sanderson, I chose to listen to the audiobook of Legion, which was available for free on Audible. I was between review audios and wanted something short to listen to, and this fit the bill. Though I don’t think Legion is bad, it’s really not the sort of story that interests me, especially since it focused more on the aspects I don’t care for, namely the mystery.

There’s nothing wrong with mysteries, and I get the appeal for other sorts of readers. However, I’m heavily character-focused, and, in general, mysteries tend to slack on the characterization. To me, Legion was no exception. The characters have the capability of being endlessly fascinating, but the focus is more on the plot than on them and their complexities, which is what I wanted to know about.

In theory, I love the concept of Legion. So there’s this guy, Stephen Leeds, who has schizophrenia or something similar, only he uses it to his benefit. He has forty-some aspects, people who he sees and interacts with that no one else can see. He reminds me a bit of Alpha from the short-lived Joss Whedon show Dollhouse, though unlike Alpha he doesn’t switch through the different personalities inside his body; to him, they inhabit bodies of their own. Leeds is high-functioning and a wonder to the medical community. If Sanderson had dug into Leeds’ mental state, I would have been all over this. I mean, this guy can skim a book on a language and create a brand new aspect to serve as a translator for him in that language. His aspects know all sorts of things that he “doesn’t” know. Then there’s the fact that when they do things, he was really the one doing them, though I’m not sure what it meant when we learn that two of his aspects are in a relationship. Does this signify masturbation? It’s weird, but it’s all quite astounding and I want to know more.

Anyway, that’s not really what Legion chooses to focus on. It’s got sort of a noir feel to it. This dame comes to his home to solicit his help for her company, and she’s obviously not all that trustworthy, but the mystery she puts in front of him is too curious and enticing. Plus, she has leverage, pictures of some woman who is significant to him, which reminded me of that whole White Collar plot line I didn’t enjoy.

The company wants Leeds to hunt down one of their inventors who went on the run with his creation, a camera that can take pictures of the past. Again, this concept is great, but I feel like the book is to short for Sanderson to do the concept justice. I mean, sure, he’s trying to leave you in a place where you don’t know if it was a hoax or real, but I’m sitting here the whole time with suspension of disbelief issues, because the camera doesn’t appear to have a time setting, so how would you get pictures of the bit of the past you wanted? Another thing that really bothered me, which took the book from something I kind of liked to something that just wasn’t for me is where the camera plot went. View Spoiler »

So yeah, mystery people will probably enjoy this, but that is so not my genre. Mainly, I’m disappointed by all of the great ideas that were in my opinion squandered in a short book. It’s not bad, and I certainly got my money’s worth, but it’s not for me, sadly.

Tl;dr – Book in a GIFfy:

that doesn't make me a multiple personality

2 responses to “Audiobook Review: Legion by Brandon Sanderson”

  1. Sorry you didn’t enjoy this 🙁 I’ve recently become a fan of Sanderson’s after listening to Steelheart & Warbreaker. I’m going to try and tackle the 1000+ pages of The Way of Kings sometime soon 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Ha, I’m sort of all over the place with Sanderson. Mistborn was basically perfect. I enjoy the Stormlight Archive, but they’re more like 4 stars for me. Steelheart was a disappointment, though I didn’t listen to the audio. maybe that would have helped. This one’s mostly just not my genre.

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