Legion by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is outside Brandon Sanderson's comfort zone in a number of ways. It's urban fantasy/science fiction, where most of his other work is epic fantasy. It's a novella, where most of his other works are 500+ pages. The narrator has a mental illness, where none of his other characters would even know what that is. And yet, I wouldn't have guessed any of that if I didn't already know who Sanderson is.
Legion is about Stephen Leeds, who owns a mansion filled with people he's hallucinated. They're all experts of some sort or another, and they have personalities of their own. There's Ivy, his psychiatrist, Tobias, the general expert, J.C., the ex-soldier and gun nut. New aspects appear as he requires new skills, and there's some indication some have gone away, much to his consternation.
People want to study him, but he's having none of it. He does hire out his services, though, and one day receives a photograph that could only have been taken before the invention of the camera. It turns out there's a camera that can take pictures of the past, and it's gone missing. The company that invented it wants to hire him to get it back.
There's a conundrum here: if the aspects aren't real, then Stephen Leeds is a skilled genius. No ordinary human could know everything they do, nor could he know how to do the things the aspects guide him through. But if they're real, where do they come from, and why is he the only one who can see them? For hallucinations, they seem awfully well-realized and distinct, but that could mean he has a vivid imagination, in addition to being a talented genius.
The story is self-contained into this novella, though there are plot threads that could be turned into more stories, should Sanderson wish to revisit this character. I know if he did, I'd be in line to read any stories he might want to put out there.
I enjoyed this novella immensely. It was a quick, fun read. It was very uncharacteristic of Sanderson's usual, which only goes to show he has far more range than I've given him credit for.
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