Book Review: Legion: Skin Deep

I read Brandon Sanderson’s first Legion novella when it first came out a few years ago, and totally fell in love with Stephen Leeds and his amusing assortment of “aspects.”  So to say I was ecstatic when a sequel was announced is a bit of an understatement.  I preordered Legion: Skin Deep as soon as I was able, and was recently excited by its arrival – both in ebook and hardcover forms.

Like its predecessor, Legion: Skin Deep, is a bit of a departure for Brandon Sanderson, who is more well-known for his lengthy epic fantasy sagas.  The main character is Stephen Leeds, a detective who is brilliant, but a bit eccentric.  He has a mental condition in which he creates personalities to house his vast collections of knowledge.  The only problem – he has to pretend that his imaginary friends are real, which means providing them with food and shelter, which can be a rather costly enterprise.  Hence his desire to use his special consulting skills to bring in an income.  In this story, Stephen is hired by one of his friends to investigate a missing corpse that has company secrets stored in its DNA, which leads to a fun detective story full of the usual hijinks one would expect when dealing with spies, assassins, and imaginary bodyguards.

While I really enjoyed this installment of the Legion story, I have to say I didn’t like it quite as much as the first novella.  The novelty of Stephen’s unique condition has worn off somewhat – the reader already knows how it works, so we don’t need to spend any time trying to figure that out.  There are additional tidbits about his condition that pop up in this story, which are quite interesting, but aren’t really critical to the story as a whole.  Although Stephen has dozens of aspects, many of the same personalities are heavily featured in both stories, and I really wish we had been able to meet more of his wacky personalities in this book.  I also wish we had found out more about the quasi-mysterious woman from his past.  These, however, are only minor complaints – this was still a fun story that was quite enjoyable to read.  And, while the amount of information revealed about Stephen’s past is annoyingly small, the lack of it does seem to indicate that there will be further installments of Legion in the future, which makes me a happy fan.  All in all it was a quick, fun read full of a bunch of crazy characters I have grown to love, and, although I didn’t find this story to be quite as riveting as the first installment, I very much look forward to the further adventures of Stephen Leeds and his imaginary band of of crime-fighting counterparts.


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