Brandon Sanderson is one of the most significant fantasists to enter the field in a good many years. His ambitious, multi-volume epics (Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive) and his stellar continuation of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series have earned both critical acclaim and a substantial popular following. In Legion, a short, distinctly contemporary novella filled with suspense, humor, and an endless flow of invention, Sanderson revealed a startling new facet of his singular narrative talent. In the stunning sequel, Legion: Skin Deep, that talent is on full display.
Stephen Leeds, AKA ''Legion',' is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the new story begins, Leeds and his "aspects" are hired by I3 (Innovative Information Incorporated) to recover a corpse stolen from the local morgue. But there's a catch. The corpse is that of a pioneer in the field of experimental biotechnology, a man whose work concerned the use of the human body as a massive storage device. He may have embedded something in the cells of his now dead body. And that something might be dangerous... What follows is a visionary thriller about the potential uses of technology, the mysteries of the human personality, and the ancient human need to believe that death is not the end. Legion: Skin Deep is speculative fiction at its most highly developed. It reaffirms Sanderson's place as one of contemporary fiction's most intelligent - and unpredictable - voices.
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People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
Legion had a couple of great ideas that were, for me, not fleshed out enough, too quickly resolved, too many missed opportunities. Skin Deep, the second installment in the series, is more than twice as long, but it is still no more than a novella that reads as an afterthought rather than a concept that has been fully thought out.
There is still the excellent central idea of an investigator with multiple personalities -- fully realized characters with areas of specialization that help solve the mystery. That remains an engaging premise. But it still goes anywhere (fast) because the short form is too restrictive. The secondary idea of human cells being used as high capacity flash drives is not as good a springboard for speculation and plot development as the history camera in Legion.
So despite the brevity of the novella, I quickly lost interest, perking up only when the inner personalities took center stage. I stuck it out to the end because of them, but I was patently underwhelmed by the meager plot. No problem, on the other hand, with Oliver Wyman's narration, which as good as it was in Legion, and helps us appreciate the characters.
Despite his supposed insanity this character, and his host of aspects, seems shockingly sane compared to those around him. Add that to a spine tingling detective tale and you have an intriguing mix.
Fun who hid the body kind of book. Light weight but enjoyable.
Not much else to add.
Why won't Audible take short reviews?
If you liked the first you'll like this one too. Looks like he's setting up an interesting follow up as well.
I was pleasantly surprised to get this as a free audiobook from Audible. As usual Sanderson impresses with his concepts, and this is a very cool and interesting character that I could easily see a whole series following. This book reads as though it's a condensed version of a larger novel, though it definitely has enough detail and doesn't feel overly rushed. It might be hard to turn out a larger book with this character without going more in-depth with some of the concepts and hallucinations, but for a novella it's just right. It also has a cool ending, which Sanderson as usual pulls off with style. The main plot's concept was a little wonky, but overall it was an enjoyable listen.
The characters, whether they be real or imaginary, makes this book worth it.
The main character's aspect JC believing that he was a "Time Ranger" was quite entertaining and memorable.
Oliver Wyman is the narrator for the first book in this series, Legion, and does a stellar job all around.
Near the end, the protagonist gives a memorable speech to a character while locked in a cellar that I found both moving and memorable.
An interesting and quirky read by author Brandon Sanderson, Legion: Skin Deep continues the story of Steven and his mental imbalances (known as Aspects) as he tries to find a body that may contain horrible possibilities for the general population. The book may be short, but I found it was packed full of fun for all ages. The characters, story, and narration are all top notch and I highly recommend this book to anyone.
5 stars is i love and i will read agani and again. 1 is i hate and i never want to hear about it ever again. YES = :))) - NO= :'(
This is such a good series. Brandon is really a gifted writer, so many different books, so many different ideas. Legion is just crazy!!! love all these characters, and wonder how the future of this series will be like.. In this book interesting character development (fake characters (or imagined characters) and the real one).. wonder how the next book will be like...
It must be not easy to have all these different personalities living in your mind and interacting with them... And just think of all the money our friend Steve is spending on all these different personalities when they join him... like the first class tickets in the last book.
Brandon Sanderson, bring the next book ASAP.... But first bring the 3rd addition of the Stormlight Archive... Can't wait.
I got the "first" book -- Skin Deep -- free from Audible and realized within fifteen minutes of listening that I needed -- and would enjoy -- Book 1 of the series, "Legion". The main character is unique in all I've read, and Sanderson does a great job with the gifts and the tensions and tells a good story in the meantime. Oliver Wyman handles the difficult material very well. A real pleasure to listen to these books.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
“I’m not crazy. I’m compartmentalized.”
Legion: Skin Deep is the second novella in Brandon Sanderson’s series about Stephen Leeds, a man whose psyche has spawned a “legion” of extra personalities that he thinks of as “aspects.” Stephen is the only person who can see his aspects — each is a separate personality who lives with him and can follow him around and help him solve problems. Everyone else thinks Stephen has schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder, but it’s not the same thing. Stephen doesn’t know why he has all these aspects or why he creates new ones when he learns something new. There’s one woman (Sandra) who can help him understand, but she has disappeared.
When we met Stephen in the first LEGION story (simply called Legion), he was helping a client find a camera that can take pictures of past events. This had interesting ramifications for politics and religion. In Skin Deep, Stephen and his aspects have been hired to find a missing corpse that contains some innovative biotechnology — part of the body might have been used to store some deadly data. If the body is not recovered and cremated soon, that information might get into the wrong hands and could cause a worldwide epidemic.
Like the first LEGION story, Skin Deep is creative and exciting. In this case, it’s cool to think about the capabilities (and security risks) of biotechnology as scientists work to find more efficient and flexible ways to store large amounts of data. What would happen if we started using the body’s DNA, which naturally holds a vast amount of information, as basically a really big flash drive? Sanderson uses the opportunity to briefly discuss topics such as Open Source and Wetware.
Skin Deep is also partly a mystery — who stole the corpse, and how did they do it? Where is the keycode? I was in the dark until the last pages, though Sanderson gave me a few clues that I missed (I love it when that happens).
I mentioned in my review of Legion that the shortness of these stories means that we don’t get to know Stephen’s aspects very well, but in Skin Deep we get to spend a lot of time with three of them — Tobias is a historian, Ivy is a psychologist, and J.C. is an ex-Navy Seal. Ivy and J.C. have an on-again-off-again romance which adds some humor and some extra weirdness. J.C. doesn’t want to admit he’s not real, so he thinks of himself as an inter-dimensional time traveler who comes to help people in need. (Each of the aspects has their own personality quirks and maybe even mental illnesses.) The aspects can eat, go to the bathroom, and talk to each other on imaginary cell phones. I’m not really sure it always works, but it’s entertaining and it does solve the problem for Sanderson of how to make his hero have so much knowledge and skill without making him seem like a god.
There’s so much more that Sanderson can do with Stephen and his “friends” and it seems clear that more LEGION stories are planned. I’m glad. The print versions are being published by Subterranean Press and the audio versions are produced by Audible Studios. I have and can recommend both. As I write this, the audio version of Skin Deep is free. Oliver Wyman does a great job with the narration.
I was deeply impressed with Legion: Skin Deep and the level of technical expertise that went into writing it. I have loved all of Sanderson's books, and yet I feel that this is something special. My only complaint is that it is not longer.
The narrator for this, Oliver Wyman, is on of my favorites, and I was ecstatic to hear his voice when I turned the audiobook on.
If you are on the fence I highly recommend this book. It is awesome.
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