Stephen is a man with many hallucinations that are people (to him, at least) he refers to as 'aspects'. Aspects have names, families, skill sets, and identities beyond what Stephen feels he could dream up, but he nonetheless consults with them on multiple projects and/or cases he picks up as a kind of/sort of private investigator. He also has a mansion to keep his aspects happy in, a butler/driver, and a seemingly open schedule. Is there anything Stephen doesn't have?
The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'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 story begins, Leeds and his 'aspects' are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.'
In response to my very own rhetorical question, I have to say there is something that did bother me about dear Stephen. His aspects have almost off-the-wall sorts of personalities, while his own seems nonexistent. Sure, he's polite and snarky on occasion (in the first book, at least), but he seems there almost as a peacekeeper for his aspects. It's very hard for him to do anything without his aspects' inputs. He's the sort of mediocre/shadowy male lead I expect more from Neil Gaiman, to be quite honest.
Initially, it was hard for me to identify what was wrong about Legion to me. It was charming enough, creative enough, and mysterious enough to keep me engaged and reading, but somehow didn't measure up to enough in my book. Once I finished Legion's sequel, Skin Deep, I realized the problem- this is Diet Sanderson. I'm used to full fat, full sugar Fantasy Sanderson, and this being Urban Fantasy, well... it measures out to less in my estimation. I came to love urban fantasy later in my reading career, and though I do have favorite books in that genre, when I read something by Mr. Sanderson I want the works. Being that this is set in the "real world" and one of the key ingredients of the Sanderson works in my opinion is his worldbuilding, well- that's the problem, along with my high expectations of anything Mr. Sanderson writes.
Legion is a good, short urban fantasy novella that may have been better received by me if it had been penned by any other author. Skin Deep, meanwhile, felt like just a longer version of Legion, without as much of the aspects/characters that I loved in it. Both had good storylines, but I don't feel any sense of urgency in wanting another book in this series, despite Stephen's aspects charming me. If you like Gaiman-esque leads and find yourself craving urban fantasy, these novellas might suit you.
Legion Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a light urban fantasy that held my attention.
Skin Deep Rating: 2 of 5 Stars for a sequel that lacked the primary novella's zing.
Age Advisory (for Legion and Skin Deep): Ages 16+ for violence, racism, and the occasional stereotype.
Page Count: Legion is 88 pages, Skin Deep is 208 pages