The review is for the first two books of the Legion series. No, there are NO SPOILERS for either book. The second book is called Skin Deep.
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 88 & 208
Series: Legion #1 and #2
Release Date: August 31, 2012 & November 24, 2014
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Stephen Leeds, or Legion, is a genius. He has a condition akin to schizophrenia, but not exactly like it, because to which he hallucinates a wide variety of people who he refers to as aspects. Each aspect has an area of expertise. With the help of his aspects, Stephen occasionally takes investigative cases.
In the both the books, the protagonist is the same and while there is continuity in personal affairs, the case in each is new. That’s why I’m reviewing them together. In the first novel, the case is finding the missing investor of an extraordinary camara, and in the second novel, he has to find the corpse of a biotech engineer who may have stored some important information in his very cells.
The mystery in both the books is really good. The second one is my favourite for sure. But both are written very cleverly with just enough hints dropped to keep the reader thinking and to give that click feeling when the case is finally solved. Loved ’em.
But… they were not the highlight. That was most definitely Stephen and his various aspects. Stephen has to be one of the most interesting characters I’ve read about. And his interactions with his aspects? Pure gold. Because you see, the aspects not only have different fields of knowledge, they also have very different personalities and different disorders. Tobias is a nice, wise man. He’s a historian and also someone who calms Stephen down. Tobias is also a schizophrenic and has a hallucination, Stan, who’s an astronaut travelling around the earth in a satellite and who tells him about the weather. Stephen can’t see Stan, only Tobias can.
Then we have Ivy, a psychologist, and Stephen’s therapist. He has a real one too, though. Then there’s J.C., the ex-Navy SEAL who’s very fond of guns. And using them. He also doesn’t accept the fact that he isn’t real and is a ton of fun. There are many others and you’ll meet them, but these three are the most prominent.
The dialogue between the aspects, and between them and Stephen, is fantastic. That’s the best part about having so many different characters together, even if only one of them is real. Though you shouldn’t underestimate the real one. All the aspects come from him, don’t they? They’re a part of him. In the first novel, it’s mainly about introducing the character, how he works, how his aspects work, and solving the case. That’s more than enough to be done in less than a hundred pages. In the second novel, we go into more depth about Stephen’s psychology. It’s slower, but not in a bad way.
The intrigue and the fun remains consistent, as does the narrative, which is awesome. I highly urge you to read, at least, the first novella. Sanderson has created a fascinating character that I think everyone should get to know. And his mysteries always have a sci-fi touch to them, making then even more interesting. To end, I shall leave you with one of the best first lines a book has ever had:
My name is Stephen Leeds, and I am perfectly sane. My hallucinations, however, are all quite mad.