Legion: Skin Deep, the sequel to Brandon Sanderson’s 2012 novella Legion, sees one-man army Stephen Leeds recruited to find the body of a recently deceased scientist who had been experimenting with storing data in human cells. It’s crucial research and Leeds’ employer (Yol, an old acquaintance) isn't the only one after it. The investigator, along with the 47 hallucinations that live in his head, is soon caught in the crossfire between rival companies also on the trail.
The cracks begin to show in the carefully maintained façade of Sanderson’s protagonist in this instalment. Once again, readers are teased with the "What ifs...?" of their leading man. The appearance of an uninvited hallucination (or "aspect", as Leeds calls them), as well as an instance where he is separated from all but one of his apparitions, stretch the limits of his so-called "sanity" and make for tense reading. The latter is a scary reminder of the impermanence of memory, or as Leeds puts it: “Without my aspects, I didn't know what I knew." There’s also mention of an aspect that died (how would that happen?), as well as reference to Leeds’ mysterious ex-girlfriend, Sandra, who helped him "manage" his hallucinations before her unexplained disappearance.
The sequel poses as many head-scratching ethical questions as Legion did, tackling everything from cyborg technology to viral pandemics, but Sanderson never quite manages to make these plot threads central to the novel. Leeds himself is still the hook, and it's frustrating to have almost twice the time with him yet no further understanding of who he is. What was once intriguing now feels... limiting. Pithy and often fun, but certainly not the new Mistborn, Sanderson’s Legion: Skin Deep needs a bit more flesh.
Written on 25th September 2015 by Alice Wybrew.
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