Previously on Elantris: Sarene was engaged to Raoden, but now they’re married because he died. Yeah, their religion is weird. She’s living in Arelon now and is very suspicious of the circumstances surrounding Raoden’s death.
Oh my god, you guys. We get to meet my favorite character today. Motherfuckin’ HRATHEN!
Hrathen joins us like a badass:
None of Arleon’s people greeted their savior when he arrived.
I know, right? It’s because they’re busy mourning a prince who isn’t actually dead.
Hrathen is a religious extremist from Fjorden come to deliver salvation to the heathens in Arelon, and he only has three months to do it. Otherwise his god, Jaddeth, will destroy Arelon. I bet that’s not true, but hey, he’s a little brainwashed. We’ll see where it takes us.
Making some judgments of the city of Kae based on military strategy, Hrathen disembarks the ship, and everyone stares at him. Might be the bloodred armor — the plate armor of a Derethi high priest — or it could be that everyone is like, “Why does this guy look so arrogant?” as he forces them all to move out of his way.
Live footage of Hrathen, always, apparently.
A Derethi arteth (lower level priest) named Fjon bustles up to greet Hrathen; he apologizes for the delay, as well as the lack of a carriage. Hrathen was scheduled to come in on a different ship, so obviously he and Sarene are inconsiderate soulmates.
With lots of bitchy thoughts about Fjon (he calls him pudgy, LOL), Hrathen follows Fjon to the Derethi chapel in Kae. These two are a fun juxtaposition; while people are downright scared of Hrathen and his dope-ass cape, Fjon smiles and calls out pleasantries like it ain’t no thang.
They get to the chapel, and Hrathen is disturbed to find people laughing and joking in a holy structure. Where is the praying? Where are the screams for forgiveness? He tells Fjon to assemble his priests, and then he fires Fjon.
“Arteth,” he said, using the man’s Derethi title, “the ship that brought me here will leave for Fjorden in an hour. You are to be on board.”
Fjon’s jaw dropped in alarm. “Wha–”
“Speak Fjordell, man!” Hrathen snapped. “Surely ten years among the Arelene heathens hasn’t corrupted you to the point that you have forgotten your native tongue?”
You may be thinking, “This guy is an asshole, Rebecca. Why do you like him?” To which I respond, “I’m a masochist. Also, just wait.”
Hrathen has orders from some dude named Wyrn to take over in Kae, so he steals Fjon’s job. He also steals his room and throws out all of Fjon’s personal effects. I shouldn’t laugh, but I do. What a dick…
Fjon comes in to prostrate himself on the ground for forgiveness. Hrathen tells him that he still has to go home to Fjorden and rethink his life, but maybe it’s not all bad.
Really quick though, this quote:
“Your sin was complacency, Arteth. Contentment has destroyed more nations than any army, and it has claimed the souls of more men than even Elantris’s heresies.”
Anyway, Hrathen allows Fjon to read the orders from Wyrn. He says it’s because Fjon can still be of use in some way, but honestly, I think he’s just showing off. Hrathen describes the orders as scripture, as they were penned by Wyrn’s own hand. Based on Sanderson’s Mormonism, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Wyrn is like the old white dude leading The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at any given time. They’re all interchangeable, but damn you if you think it won’t be a WHITE. MAN.
Neither Hrathen nor Fjon feel like they’re even worthy to hold the scroll, so this is the level of brainwash we’re dealing with. Hrathen asks Fjon if he could have executed the orders commanded by their Holy Emperor, and he’s like “Nah bro.” Hrathen feels very self-satisfied. We as readers still don’t know what the orders are, but they sound murder-y.
Hrathen gives Fjon a letter that will allow him a pretty solid placement upon his return to Fjorden. When the arteth leaves, he burns another letter condemning Fjon as a traitor.
BUT IT’S OVER NOW.
Hrathen sees the priests under Fjon one at a time and discovers corruption and disappointment all over the place. That is, until a presumably Arelene man named Dilaf comes to see him.
Dilaf is described as having “defiant” eyes, but unfortunately there won’t be any illicit gay romance for Matt to talk about. Dilaf is just batshit crazy. He tells Hrathen the story of his conversion and it’s like every cult story ever, only Dilaf is Jonestown-level insane.
Hrathen makes Dilaf a full arteth. But Dilaf Crazy-Eyes doesn’t hide his ambition well enough, so Hrathen also makes him something called an “odiv,” a slave to his religious superior — in this case, my boy Hrathen. Good move, because seriously, this guy is nuts.
Dilaf’s first slave task is to follow Fjon and make sure he gets to Fjorden. He leaves Hrathen to reverently finger this scroll from Wyrn. I get it, he’s considered a prophet and having a scroll written in his own hand is a privilege. But the obsession in these sorts of situations always reads so irrationally to me. I’m tainted by my heathenism.
We finally get to read the orders for ourselves and find out how murder-y they are! Yay!
You have three months to prophesy to the people of Arelon. At the end of that time, the holy soldiers of Fjorden will descend on the nation like hunting predators, rending and tearing the unworthy life from those who heed not my words.
Ugh, be more predictable, religious extremism.
All mankind has to be united under Wyrn’s rule for Jaddeth to rise from his throne and reign in “glorious majesty” and I’m sorry but
Only thing I can think of.
Hrathen pats himself on the back again for being Arelon’s last chance at salvation, and the chapter ends.
And Here’s Matt with the Gay Perspective:
Now for the creepy chapters of Elantris with Hrathen, your lovable religious zealot. Convert or die! Hrathen is the basic bitch of religious zealotry who puts up a sign at the church in Kae that says “no fun allowed.” I’d rather lick the grime-covered streets of Elantris than interact with this douchebag. Poor pudgy Fjon, your only crime was not being a dick.
So let’s delve into this Shu-Dereth religion a little bit and Sanderson’s religious themes in general. Religious people in his books (you see it in Mistborn and Warbreaker) tend to come off as massive dicks, which seems at odds with Sanderson’s devout Mormonism. Are you trying to tell us something, Sanderson? Blink twice if the church has dirt on you. “Chosen people,” used here to describe the Fjorden, is a traditionally Jewish term, but the aesthetic Sanderson is giving off is pure Mormonism. OMG you can’t just smoosh religions together like some hippy suburban housewife who just discovered eastern mysticism!
Really, though–now that the major characters have all been introduced and the scene has been set for the story, I’m excited to get into it!
What do you guys think about our crazy bro Hrathen? Discuss below!