Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Elantris of today is in shambles and is considered a city of the dead, however 10 years ago it was the city of the gods filled with luminous beings, amazing technology, and was a center of learning. Ten years prior to the story, the Reod occurred which led to the downfall of Elantris and the Elantrians. No one was able to figure out why things changed, until now.
In reading Elantris we follow one of our heroes, Raoden, as he is able to unravel this mystery, with the help of new friends. We also follow the adventures of Sarene, a princess from another realm who is now a part of the story, as she tries to uncover the mystery of what happened to Raoden. Unbeknownst to them, Raoden and Sarene are able to work together to bring about important social change, political change, and their own personal salvation.
We are introduced to the magic system of this part of Sel, the AonDor. The AonDor is part of the Dor, the magic of Sel and something not fully explained yet, and the AonDor is what gives Elantrians their power and long lasting life. We see how when the AonDor manifests itself in a person, they are chosen by the Shaod, and undergo physical changes are transformed into Elantrians. However, due to the Reod, this process was perverted and became a curse instead of a blessing. We are able to discover, through Raoden, how this process occurred and what, if at all, can be done to reverse the Reod.
When I first read Elantris many years ago, it was presented to me as a standalone story. A story that is self contained and doesn't rely on other stories or isn't part of a long series. While this is somewhat true, and was the case at the time I read Elantris, there is so much going on in this story that is only now being revealed and connected to other stories in the Cosmere. There will be more connections and more stories of Elantris in the future and for this I am happy that this didn't end up being a "one off" and that the story continues!