It appears that Sanderson’s strength is in longer works. While Sanderson has never been a crafter of beautiful prose he is always dependable to provide something new, exciting and, most importantly, fun to read. His endings, with the famous Brandon Avalanche, are cinematic and powerful. In fact, while Sanderson is well known for his magic systems — and rightly so –, what makes his books is the powerful endings.
The problem with Legion, then, is that it does not have one.
The story ends. There’s even a conclusion, but it feels pasted on. Things are pretty smooth until that point. Even the beginning — traditionally one of Sanderson’s weakest points — introduces the characters (or, more accurately character and alternate personalities) and sets up the problem to be solved smoothly enough that I almost didn’t notice the motions of establishing narrative. The story escalates quickly, since it’s only about 85 pages. Then the ending strikes from the sidelines, without warning, foreshadowing or even a hint of what is going to happen.
The usual depth of world and exploration of character strengths and weaknesses is missing from this book as well but that is to be expected in a work this short. Some of Sanderson’s humor is there as well, which isn’t really laugh out loud funny but it’s enough that the story maintains a light and humorous tone.
Strictly speaking this is not a fantasy in the traditional sense that Sanderson usually writes. It’s more like a soft science fiction story about a man with a really weird psychological disorder.
The ideas and characters presented in this story are fascinating and are begging to be explored in a longer work. The opening is one of Sanderson’s best. The climax of the story could have used just a little bit of story putty to smooth out the cracks.