Review of the 'Legion' series by Brandon Sanderson

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

tl;dr: The 'Legion' series is an interesting take on a genius with multiple personalities.

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The protagonist is Stephen Leeds. His genius is sought after by everyone - from the person on the street to governments. He has one small quirk though - he hallucinates multiple personalities that he calls 'aspects'. They are created whenever Stephen needs to learn some new skill which he does by reading books or observation. Each of these aspects contains a set of talents, have their own identity and are visible only to Stephen. The aspects also suffer from some kind of neuroses or the other. Some memorable ones are J.C. a redneck ex-SEAL who has an unhealthy obsession for guns, Ivy - a psychologist who moderates the other aspects and Tobias - an elder statesman like aspect who specializes in history. According to Stephen, he is not crazy since his hallucinations do not incapacitate him. Still, he considers most of his aspects crazy, though. The collection of these aspects, their interactions within themselves and with Stephen are easily the best portions of the novellas.

The 'Legion' Series consists of three novellas titled 'Legion', 'Legion: Skin Deep' and 'Lies of the Beholder'. They are available individually as well as being available in a single volume called 'Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds'.

'Legion' is a straight-up detective story where Stephen has to find an inventor who has escaped with his special camera. It sets up Stephen's condition and introduces his aspects. The intriguing portion about this story is not about the actual finding but the aspects and the implications of having a camera that can look into the past. It is fun, and I can see why Brandon Sanderson wanted to write more stories about the character.

The second novella 'Skin Deep' is similar. Stephen has to find the body of a dead researcher who has found a way to encode information into his body. It is longer compared to the first novella, but I found its pacing a bit slower. The interactions between the aspects take prominence here, and we discover a lot more about how they work.

The last novella - 'Lies of the Beholder' - brings the Legion arc to a conclusion. The main story per se serves only as a placeholder for us to witness Stephen's issues with his aspects. He is losing control of them which makes his question his sanity. He wants a normal life without them, but at the same time, he doesn't want to lose them entirely since they are part of who it is. The pacing is much better, and the series has a satisfying conclusion.

In conclusion, I liked these stories. They are average when compared to Sanderson's other works. But they are still good enough to entertain us for a couple of hours.

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