Twofer it is. I’m feeling more than a bit under the weather, so I’m sorry in advance if this review is less… enthusiastic.
Beware the spoilers!
I found a hardback copy of Legion at Powell’s in downtown Portland. This is a fairly rare thing, since the US edition of hardback prints was limited. Turns out I found a UK copy that shared its binding with The Emperor’s Soul.
I was really surprised when I found out that Legion was only 72 pages. That’s tiny. Like microscopic in Brandon’s long list of long books. I read it in a day. And by a day I mean about an hour and a half.
That’s a testament, not only to my speed-reading tendencies, but the fast-paced nature of the story. This was both the best, and worst, thing about Legion.
Unlike most of Sanderson’s novels, Legion takes place in the normal world. This lets the world-building master skip out on this time-consuming element to most stories. He can get right to the plot, and right to character development.
Now, the thing about Stephen Leeds, AKA Legion, is that he has a quirk. Ok, a big quirk. All right, it’s probably more than a quirk. Like, a major psychological disorder. Most psychologist, therapists, and scientists think Leeds is Schizophrenic. And they make a pretty good argument for it. Because Leeds sees people who aren’t there.
But, in a nice twist, à la Sanderson, Leeds can control when he creates an “Aspect” and which ones attend him on cases. Usually. In the early scenes of Legion, we meet Ivy, J.C., and Tobias.
Ivy is the people person. She’s a psychologist, from what I gather. She helps Leeds read and react to people. And she tends to act as his moral compass quite often. J.C. thinks he’s an ex-Navy SEAL. He’s Leeds weapons expert, and often acts as a sort of security for Leeds. And Tobias. Well, Tobias is a well of knowledge. He acquires and stores minutia. Acquaintance’s names, birthdays, random info about architecture and news. But, mostly, Tobias seems to act as a buffer for Leeds. He helps him keep control.
And none of these people are real.
From the get-go, I really enjoyed Leeds and his merry band of Aspects. They’re a riot. And they bicker between each other constantly.
But, Legion itself suffers from a very frail plot. The premise good enough, and is a convincing reason why Leeds and Co., would go on their adventure. But, the story isn’t really about any of it. It’s about getting to know Leeds, his Aspects, and wondering who in the hell Sandra is.
And where the first story fell flat, the sequel shined. The plot is much stronger, and there’s more intrigue about Leeds, the abilities and quirks of his Aspects, and the people he knows in real life.
And though there aren’t any real answers, we learn a tiny bit more about the elusive Sandra. Turns out, she was the only person who ever really got him. She helped him learn how to control his Aspects. Helped him use his “disorder” to accomplish things. And then, one day, she just up and left.
And Legion hasn’t been quite right since. Ivy thinks he’s beginning to lose control. Aspects are “creating” family members, J.C. straight up ignores orders. Leeds is on shaky ground with his aspects, and we don’t quite know why.
In Skin Deep, we get to see Leeds without all of his Aspects. Well, mostly. And we get to hear his thoughts on himself. How he thinks of himself as a blank slate for his Aspects. And it’s sad. And makes Sandra that much more important. Because she wasn’t just some psychological coach. It’s implied she was a lover.
By the end of the second novella, we realize that, despite his 48 Aspects, all specialists in some field or another, Leeds is incredibly alone.
That’s what I really liked about this series. The main character has to compete with a multitude of Aspects for the reader’s affection, but he still shines over them, because they’re all a piece of him. And I’m really curious to see how the series gets resolved. I look forward to the next installment, whenever that will be.
If you’re interested in a quick read series full of humor, detective-esque intrigue, and just enough weird to still be a Sanderson story, then you should pick up Legion!
I do want to say that I read Legion: Skin Deep as an ebook, and though I really appreciated the convenience, I constantly felt like I was forgetting something. It’s nice to open my phone and be brought to the exact page I was on, but I didn’t like how easy it was to be interrupted. Co-Workers have learned to leave me be when they see a book out, but my phone? No one cares about that.
But, ebooks allow me to read more things. I’ve bought a few novellas, and novel, that I will be reading as ebooks. And I wouldn’t have had access to them otherwise. So, while not my preferred method, ereading isn’t all bad.
Now I’ve got to focus on reading Ready Player One for book club at the end of the month. I’m thinking of doing a Book Club Review, where I’ll give each member’s opinion. But, we’ll see.
See you soon, Blogland!