Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad.
A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems… for a price.
Stephen’s brain is getting a little crowded and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects.
What’s great about Legion is that there is more than one interpretation to be taken: a metaphor for writers and their process, a personal look at Sanderson’s process/mind, a look at mental illness, or just a really interesting and fun story.
Legion is a compilation of three novellas. When this compilation novel was first announced last year, I decided to hold off on read the novellas so I could just binge them all at once and I’m glad I did. Sanderson is doing his Sanderson thing here in creating complex and compelling characters, even if most of them aren’t real. Legion doesn’t stand up to his other novels in terms of world building or crazy complex magic systems, instead Legion presents readers with fascinating science fiction plots and characters you won’t be able to get out of your head.
The first two novellas are fun and light hearted despite the few lines of foreshadowing. Readers are brought on exciting adventures that have some of the coolest plots I’ve ever read. I wish the first novella were a full-length novel because it’s such an interesting concept that I’d love to see expanded upon.
The final novella has a much darker and bleaker tone as Stephen deals with his deteriorating mental state. After the light hearted tones of the first two novellas, I thoroughly enjoyed the more serious bleaker tone of the final novella. Stephen’s introspection is the focal point of the novella, which makes his arc feel complete. I’ve read a few reviews that complain about the ending being rush or not what they expected/wanted, but I think this ending was inevitable though I think it depends on how you’re viewing the story as whole.
Overall, Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds is another work of Sanderson’s you can point to to showcase his incredible writing ability. With characters that jump off the pages and plots to rival some of the best science fiction writers, Legion with leave you clamouring for more.