“Legion” by Brandon Sanderson

“Legion” by Brandon SandersonLegion by Brandon Sanderson
Published: 2012 by Dragonsteel
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 96
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
View on Goodreads

Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors of all time, and so when a Kindle version of his novella “Legion” was released, I purchased it immediately.  It’s not the next “Stormlight Archive” book by any stretch of the imagination, but it did help to tide me over until it comes out.

The opening lines immediately drew me into the story.

My name is Stephen Leeds, and I am perfectly sane.  My hallucinations, however, are all quite mad.

Unlike most of the books that I read, “Legion” is set in today’s world.  It’s the story of a man who hallucinates, and his hallucinations help him to solve crimes.  When a woman named Monica asks for his assistance in tracking down a man who invented a camera that can take snapshots of the past, Stephen is intrigued.  The case raises many theoretical and philosophical possibilities, including what the world would be like if there was proof of the veracity of any modern religion.

Even though the book is relatively short, it challenges readers to think about the world today and to question prejudices and assumptions.  For instance, the main character talks to characters that he hallucinates, but at the same time, he is able to lead a functional life and to support himself.  He considers himself to be more sane than people with dysfunctional careers/marriages/etc., even though is brain functions differently than the norm.

Stephen’s hallucinations (called aspects) were quirky, to say the least.  They range from J.C., a crazy right-wing gun nut, to Ivy, a therapist who treats other aspects’ own mental illnesses.  When they travel to Jerusalem, Stephen hallucinates an interpreter to guide them, and as such is able to communicate.  It’s brilliant.

While I loved the story and the concept, I wanted a bit more from “Legion.”  It was the tale of one specific case that Stephen and his aspects take on, and it felt as if it were merely an episode of a larger story.  I don’t want to see that story left untold.  For example, there was a woman in Stephen’s past who taught him to use his powers and then disappeared.  What happened to her?  Who was she?  Will he find her?  The ending of the story left me with more questions than answers.

Sanderson’s website says that “Legion” was a story that he wrote while on a plane to France.  He stated that because he was working on other projects, he didn’t have the time to expand it into anything larger.  I wish that he had.  It’s a good story, and I would still recommend reading it (the e-book edition is only $2.99, which is worth it for a quick read).  At the same time, it had so much unfulfilled potential, and I expected better.

13 thoughts on ““Legion” by Brandon Sanderson

  1. Yes, I need to snag this one and read it. I enjoyed his other recent short work, The Emperor’s Soul. And the fact that I’m in the mental health field I think predisposes me to being interested in anyone’s take on mental health issues. This one sounds like a winner all the way round.

    1. I loved “The Emperor’s Soul.” It was one of my favorite books that I’ve read this year, although I have yet to write a review.

      I’d be curious to see what you think of this one. It’s an interesting premise, but it felt unfinished, especially after having read Sanderson’s other works.

  2. Ooh, this sounds interesting. Have you heard of the T.V. show Perception? It is a similar story set up, a professor with schizophrenia helps the police solve crimes involving people who have neurological disorders. His hallucinations also help him solve the crimes. Eric McCormack plays the lead character. I found it fascinating.

      1. Unfortunately it is not. It’s on TNTdrama.com which you can unlock with your television provider information. It’s also available on Amazon Instant Video. The second season starts on June 25th, perhaps the show will make it to Netflix before then? Sometimes they do that to get more viewers for the next season.

        1. I may check it out on Amazon then. I don’t have cable anymore–hated the commercials, and the only thing I regularly watched were documentaries. Netflix had a better selection of those, so in general it’s been an easy switch. 🙂

  3. Hard to believe that it feels unfinished considering he usually spends so much time on details. But a rushed book can have that impression.

    1. It seemed very strange coming from him. I doubt that he’d have the time, but it would make a wonderful serial, with different cases and adventures revealing the larger story. I wonder if he’d ever return to it.

  4. Unusual for Sanderson to write a more modern tale. Perhaps he didn’t enjoy writing in the here and now as much as his fantasy works. I love the Emperor’s Soul. That opening line would definitely pull you in.
    Lynn 😀

Comments make me happy! Please feel free to leave a reply.