“I just finished Mistborn…what Sanderson book should I read next?
I get this a lot.
That’s what happens when you pump out 2 to 4 books a year since 2005–
I’ve wanted to do a Brandon Sanderson appreciation post for a LONG time. With the latest entrant to the series that has become his Magnum Opus, The Stormlight Archives, days away from being published, I thought it would be a good time.
One of the most common questions I get is where should I start? What book should I read first? Which is a great question, and a valid one because Brandon Sanderson is one of the most prolific authors of our day and there are a lot of books to choose from! So I’ll give you some suggestions of where you could start…in just a moment. First, a short primer on Brandon Sanderson and The Cosmere.
What the heck is The Cosmere? Hold on, I’ll tell you.
First though, I’ll share a few reasons why Brandon Sanderson is awesome.
–He writes fast
–He talks to his fans. Most accessible author.
—-Reddit Q&A’s, Status Bar, Annual State of the Sanderson
—-Planned out for the next decade. You know what’s coming, you’re invested.
–Teaches writing at BYU and posts his lectures on YouTube
–Visit Brandon Sanderson dot com for everything you could ever want to know about him and his stories, including that status bar and the state of the sanderson posts thru the years.
–Oh, and his books are AMAZING. Some might say (not me) that not all his books are good. I say he’s never done wrong as an author. Perhaps what the haters mean when they complain about is this or that book is that it’s less awesome that than the others. I don’t know, I don’t get it. To me, his books are the perfect blend of quality, appropriate content, and story. I’ve loved everything he’s ever written.
Now, to the question of What should I read first. That’s not actually the first question you should ask, though. The first question you should actually be asking is What the heck is the COSMERE?!
Brandon Sandersons books can be divided into two groups: Group one is all his stories that are part of what he calls The Cosmere. Group 2 is everything else.
So, The Cosmere: When Brandon was young, he plotted out this Universe (like a literal universe in space) with several planets. There was an ancient event on one of the planets where a group of people destroyed a source of great, immense power by breaking this power into many smaller pieces he called Shards. Each Shard, or piece of this power, traveled through space and found a new home on different planets within this Universe. Each Shard expressed it’s power differently, and on each of the planets, some kind of magical power came to be. This Universe is called The Cosmere. Each book series within The Cosmere takes place on a different planet in the Universe, and each has a different fun and unique magic system that manifests as Marvel comic type superpowers. So, these are the books of The Cosmere:
The Stormlight Archive and Mistborn series each take place on a different planet w/in The Cosmere, as do standalone novels Elantris and Warbreaker, the White Sand graphic novels, and several short stories found in Arcanum Unbounded.
Each of these books and series are separate and independent, meaning you don’t have to read one to understand the other. BUT for the truly nerdy among us, there are connections across the stories as well…easter eggs that connect The Universe together. Brandon has said there likely won’t be an Avengers style mashup of all the heroes from all the different worlds coming together with their powers to fight some all powerful evil, but that sure would be awesome! As it is, he has books planned out for The Cosmere that will fill a lifetime of writing. So stay healthy Brandon!
Okay so that’s The Cosmere. Now for everything else.
The Cosmere books are big (some like 1200 pages) and detailed and take a lot of writing brain power. So Brandon explains that in between writing his Cosmere books he cleanses his mind by writing a variety of other wonderfully fun stories! This variety is one of the reasons why Brandon Sanderson is so loved, and he spits these things out so fast! Like multiple new stores a year! There are several books and series that fall into this group. His latest project is Skyward, a YA Science Fiction series. He’s currently working 33% finished with the first draft of book 3 out of what is planned to be a 4 book series. The Reckoners is an excellent YA trilogy about a world where the people with the superpowers are the bad guys, and the rebellion is led by regular people who have to figure out how to beat them. A favorite at my house is Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians. Don’t be fooled by the goofy name–this 5 book series is awesome, as is The Rithmatist, a YA standalone and Legion: The many lives of Stephen Leeds, a collection of 3 brillant novellas about a genius private investigator with split personalities. Brandon Sanderson also has also written several other novellas and short stories, and when Robert Jordan died before finishing his epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time, his wife asked Brandon Sanderson to finish it.
So that’s the Brandon Sanderson collection, and it grows each year. It’s a collection of amazing stories and books by and engaging and talented author, and by jumping on the Sanderson train you are guaranteed years of literary satisfaction.
But what to read first?! Well, now that you know the difference between The Cosmere and non-Cosmere books, that will give you your first idea of where you might want to start. If you want to jump into The Cosmere, I recommend starting with the Mistborn Trilogy. Book 1 is called The Final Empire, but I think he or his publishers are just trying to change the name to Mistborn, so you’ll find it under either name. It’s a great place to start because 1) it’s brilliant, 2) it’s not 1200+ pages like The Stormlight Archives, and 3) it was Brandon Sanderson’s first breakout hit. It was when he was just hitting his stride as an author, so you’ll get a great taste of what you can expect from a Brandon Sanderson book by reading mistborn. But if you chose to start anywhere else, you’ll be just fine. Obviously, if you start with a series, start with book one, but there’s no reason plot-wise you need to start with one series or the other.
Maybe you aren’t ready to commit to The Cosmere, or maybe you’re not nerdy and fantasy books about warriors
with super powers doesn’t sound interesting to you. Pick any Non-Cosmere series and start with Book 1 and can’t go wrong. I might suggest Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians if you like hilarious and fun books that your whole family can enjoy together, or the Reckoners if you our your young teens are looking for something excited to read. Skyward is fantastic, and you could easily start there, but just remember that series isn’t finished yet. The Legion novellas might be a good place for you if you lean more towards mystery stories or simply want to read something short.
There you go. That’s my official One Man Book Club run down on Brandon Sanderson, The Cosmere, and what book should you read first. I hope you found it helpful!