Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite authors of all time, and so when a Kindle version of his novella “Legion” was released, I purchased it immediately. It’s not the next “Stormlight Archive” book by any stretch of the imagination, but it did help to tide me over until it comes out.
The opening lines immediately drew me into the story.
My name is Stephen Leeds, and I am perfectly sane. My hallucinations, however, are all quite mad.
Unlike most of the books that I read, “Legion” is set in today’s world. It’s the story of a man who hallucinates, and his hallucinations help him to solve crimes. When a woman named Monica asks for his assistance in tracking down a man who invented a camera that can take snapshots of the past, Stephen is intrigued. The case raises many theoretical and philosophical possibilities, including what the world would be like if there was proof of the veracity of any modern religion.
Even though the book is relatively short, it challenges readers to think about the world today and to question prejudices and assumptions. For instance, the main character talks to characters that he hallucinates, but at the same time, he is able to lead a functional life and to support himself. He considers himself to be more sane than people with dysfunctional careers/marriages/etc., even though is brain functions differently than the norm.
Stephen’s hallucinations (called aspects) were quirky, to say the least. They range from J.C., a crazy right-wing gun nut, to Ivy, a therapist who treats other aspects’ own mental illnesses. When they travel to Jerusalem, Stephen hallucinates an interpreter to guide them, and as such is able to communicate. It’s brilliant.
While I loved the story and the concept, I wanted a bit more from “Legion.” It was the tale of one specific case that Stephen and his aspects take on, and it felt as if it were merely an episode of a larger story. I don’t want to see that story left untold. For example, there was a woman in Stephen’s past who taught him to use his powers and then disappeared. What happened to her? Who was she? Will he find her? The ending of the story left me with more questions than answers.
Sanderson’s website says that “Legion” was a story that he wrote while on a plane to France. He stated that because he was working on other projects, he didn’t have the time to expand it into anything larger. I wish that he had. It’s a good story, and I would still recommend reading it (the e-book edition is only $2.99, which is worth it for a quick read). At the same time, it had so much unfulfilled potential, and I expected better.