The Hope of Elantris is the second story in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection by Brandon Sanderson. The story takes place and contains major spoilers for the novel Elantris. You can also read the story for free on Brandon Sanderson’s official website.
Here is the synopsis from Goodreads (which is a note from Sanderson himself):
The following is a short story I wrote in the Elantris world back in January of 2006. At that point, Elantris had only been out in stores for about seven or eight months, but I actually hadn’t written anything new on the story or world since 2000, when I’d finished the first draft of the original book. This story was originally posted for sale on Amazon.com; once the contract with them ran out, I posted it on my website.
There were always a few holes in the manuscript where I decided not to include viewpoints or sections of explanation in the name of streamlining, particularly at the end. In the back of my mind, I knew what happened. This story talks about one of those holes; it is meant to be read after you’ve finished the novel and takes place during the events of the climax. In the annotation, I’ve written a further explanation of why I wrote this piece. Some of you may find it interesting to read this ahead of time; I put it in the annotation, however, as I know others would rather enjoy the story without bias beforehand, then read my thoughts afterward.
Either way, if you haven’t read the novel Elantris, this contains major spoilers. Might I suggest reading the book first? This story won’t work at all for you if you haven’t.
As always, thanks for reading!
Now this is the Elantris I remember! The Hope of Elantris is a brief look into life inside Elantris, instead of the larger country of Arleon, which Elantris is a part of. More specifically, it tells the story of the night when magic is restored to Elantris after the novel’s protagonists succeed in their mission.
Elantris used to be a magical place, where its people could create and cure things with the wave of a hand. Then the place was cursed after a cataclysmic event, which stripped Elantrians of their healing magic.
Moreover, the curse rendered Elantrians unable to heal from their wounds. Even a series of small wounds like sprains and scratches could transform Elantrians into Hoed, comatose from the accumulated unending pain.
Despite the curse, Elantrians continue to hope the curse will be lifted and their healing magic returned to them. They managed to form a community of relative safety within the all the chaos happening around them.
The Hope of Elantris focuses on Matisse, an Elantrian tasked with the duty of caring for Elantrian children. Her children had just gone to sleep one night when a group of soldiers bent on eliminating the Elantrian people begin attacking their community.
The story was very short and sweet. It didn’t add much lore to the lore of Elantris as a whole, but it didn’t need to.
I was very satisfied with the story of Matisse protecting the children under her care, and the story of Dashe protecting his own child. In the postscript, Brandon Sanderson explains the interesting inspiration behind this story, which I’ll leave you to discover on your own.
Others may find this short story insignificant, but I enjoy reading about things that happen in the periphery of larger events, of ordinary people working in the background, their actions and sacrifices unnoticed in the grander scheme of things.
Matisse may not be a member of the royal family, a commander of soldiers, or a powerful hero. She’s just an ordinary woman with no fighting skills or magic abilities, yet she does her part in protecting the children. And that’s just as important as ruling a kingdom, leading an army, or defeating mighty foes.
Everyone has a role to play. Every one matters.