Brandon Sanderson is a literary genius. He is an American author of science fiction and epic fantasy novels. His fictional Cosmere Universe made him into one the greatest fantasy world builders of all time, right up there with J.R Tolkien and George R. Martin.
The Cosmere is also the setting for two of his most famous fantasy series: The Mistborn and The Stormlight Archive. His other book series, which include: The Reckoners, Skyward, and Alcatraz, are set outside the Cosmere Universe.
Sanderson’s fertile imagination and prolific writing skills made him the right candidate to complete Robert Jordan’s classic high fantasy series “The Wheel of Time,” a feat which brought him a fair amount of fame and endeared him to the fans of the series.
He was chosen specifically by the wife of the late Robert Jordan because she was deeply impressed by his work on his first novel in the Mistborn novel series, The Final Empire.
He has created several graphic novel series, which include Dark One and White Sand. He also has to his credit a long list of novels, some of which belong to the cosmere universe and others which do not.
It is quite interesting that Brandon Sanderson set out to study Biochemistry at Brigham Young University but switched in his second year to English Literature after a two-year missionary stint abroad in South Korea. Brandon Sanderson lives in Utah with his wife and three children.
1. The Stormlight Archives: The Way of Kings
This novel is the first in the Stormlight Archive series. It was published on the 31st of August 2010 by Tor books. The book is quite large and consists of One Prologue, One Prelude, 75 Chapters, an Epilogue, and Nine Interludes.
Sanderson finished the first draft in 2003, but the book was not released until 2010 because Sanderson delayed publishing due to him deciding to focus on the Mistborn Series instead.
The novel opens into a world that oscillates around a terrible recurring phenomenon called “The Desolation,” where monsters known as “Voidbringers” devastate the world and human survival hangs by a thread.
To counter the threat, the conscious forces of nature create an order of defenders known as the “Knight Radiants,” who are so named for their glowing eyes and aura. The Knights Radiants possess magical swords, armor as well as magical powers.
The story begins with the previous desolation, which was thought to be the final one. It became an event that spawned myriad legends because the Knights Radiants of the time abandoned their weapons and vanished into oblivion. Their armor and swords became priceless artifacts wielded only by the wealthiest or most noble of men.
The name of the Stormlight world is Roshar, and the magic of Roshar is based on gemstones that can glow with light for a long while after being recharged by exposing them to powerful storms. These gemstones also serve as currency and also as luminous decorations in the houses of the wealthy.
Roshar possesses unique flora and fauna which have adapted to the frequent and powerful high storms. The animal life is crustacean based, while the plant life is mobile and has devised ways to retract into the soil to survive high storms.
There are also spirits called “spren,” which exist. They react to the emotions of people and the environment. They appear in forms and colors peculiar to the emotion and situation, such as red for anger and pain, gold for glory, and white ribbons of light for wind.
However, the spren are so common that people generally ignore them and take them for granted.
2. Mistborn: The Final Empire
This book is the first in the Mistborn trilogy. Tor Books published it on the 17th of July 2006.
The book is set in the dark world of Scadrial in the Cosmere Universe. On this planet, a supernatural mist cloaks the landscape at night, the sky is red in the daytime, and ash constantly falls from the sky, resulting in all the plants being brown.
The World of Scadrial is ruled by the Hero of Ages, who was prophesied and ascended to godhood at the well of ascension to wield power necessary to defeat a mysterious threat to the world Scadrial known as “The Darkness.”
The Hero of Ages succeeded in his quest and triumphed over the threat, but he twisted the world of Scadrial and remade it to his desire. He had ruled for a thousand years as an immortal tyrant since then when this book starts.
As Lord Ruler, he stratified the society into two; Nobility and Peasantry.
The nobility were the descendants of old allies who helped him reach godhood.
The peasantry were the descendants of all who opposed him; they were also called “skaa,” a derogatory term for their status in society. The main Magic system of the Scadrial world is called Allomancy.
It is a special kind of sorcery that allows users to gain supernatural powers by swallowing and burning flakes of specific metals. The ability to perform this “burning” is genetic and limited to the nobility.
However, some skaa-nobility hybrids have been known to burn metals too. An Allomancer has access to just one metal.
But Mistborns are a special group of Allomancers that can burn every metal, thus giving them a wider range of abilities than other normal Allomancers.
There is also another lesser-known kind of Magic in Scadrial known as Ferruchemy. It is wielded by a secretive race of scholars who are mostly lost to legend.
Oathbringer is the third book in the Stormlight Archive series. Tor Books published it on the 14th of November 2017.
It was preceded by Words of Radiance and followed by Rhythm of War. It contains one Prologue, 122 Chapters, 14 Interludes, and an Epilogue.
In this book, the Voidbringers return, and the world of Roshar once again is faced with desolation. Their numbers are large, and they are fiery fighters. The Parched have awakened, and some have bonded with evil spren to create the Voidbringers.
The Voidbringers can summon the everstorm, a unique weather storm similar to the high storm that recharges gemstones. The Parshendi have acquired new abilities, which change everything, including the nature of the age-old conflict between the Parshendi and the Knights Radiant.
Elantris is Brandon Sanderson’s first book. It was published on the 21st of April 2005 by Tor Books.
It tells the story of Elantris, a city once a place of high magic, populated by immortal inhabitants known as Elantrians. These Elantrians were seen as gods by the other normal people. They had special abilities of healing and creation.
The Elantrians were once normal humans transformed into demigods by the mysterious touch of some magical power called the Shard.
Unfortunately, this power suddenly failed one day, and the once bright, benevolent demigods became helpless, withered, and frail creatures while the shining city of Elantris began to decay and crumble.
After the misfortune befell Elantra, Arelon shifted its capital to Kae, a smaller and far less illustrious city. Most of the events in the book take place in Kae and Elantris. The book is a wonderful debut novel that gave us a glimpse of what was to come.
Warbreaker is another page-turner from the master of fantasy, Sanderson. In this book, he deploys a most original kind of magic system known as “awakening.”
In this system, those who wield the magic are known as “Awakeners,” who gives life to objects.
The powers also give the holders certain benefits, including perpetual youth, perfect pitch, and color recognition. This power drains the surrounding objects of color, and the more colorful an object is, the easier it is to use the power on it.
6. Words of Radiance
This book is the second in the Stormlight Archive series. It follows “The Way of Kings” and precedes “Oathbringer.”
In this book, we follow the story of the Assassin in White, whose first murder resulted in the vengeance pact where the Highprinces of Alethkar united for the first time in a war against the Parshendi.
It also chronicles the development of former Bridge four leader turned royal bodyguard, Kaladin. He learns to overcome his loathing of the Alethi nobility while strengthening his bond with his spren, Syl.
This book is the first in the series to dedicate a considerable part of the narrative to the events in the Parshendi society. One of the Parshendi warriors makes a vital discovery that causes a revolution in the Parshendi society.
The Assassin in white sees someone other than himself use Stormlight for the first time, and the Parshendi are finally able to summon the Everstorm.
7. Rhythm of War
This book is the fourth and latest in the Stormlight Archive series. It was published on the 17th of November 2020 by Tor books.
It follows Oathbringer in the Stormlight series. It holds the distinction of being the longest book in the series.
This book, like all others, is narrated from the point of view of different characters in each chapter. It pens with Kaladin Stormblessed traveling to his hometown to pick up a certain General.
Shortly after, he is joined by other radiants, attempting to evacuate the city into a flying machine. They are resisted by some of the “fused” Parshendi warriors who have gained new powers by the fusion.
They eventually succeed in evacuating the city and moving on in the flying machine.
This book is a sharp deviation from the Cosmere universe. Delacorte Press published it on the 26th of November 2019.
It tells the story of the young protagonist Spensa, who is shipwrecked on a desolate planet named Detritus, where they are constantly attacked by a mysterious race of aliens known as Krell.
Spensa attempts to join the Military Aviation force but is thwarted by a certain Admiral Ironsides, but she is taken by a certain Cobb, her late father’s wingmate. She trains under him and eventually makes it into the Defence Force.
The story follows her adventures in the Airforce and subsequent battles with the Krell aliens.
9. Mistborn: The Hero of Ages
This book is the third in the Mistborn Trilogy. It follows “The Well of Ascension” and precedes “The Alloy of Law” in the Wax and Wayne series.
The book follows the events at the well of ascension where the prophecy foretold that the Hero of Ages would find the well of ascension and release the power trapped there in the act of selfless heroism to save the world from Ruin.
However, subsequent events prove that the prophecies were altered in a ruse to allow the evil force called Ruin imprisoned within the well to escape when the Hero of ages gave up the power.
Ruin’s escape hastened the destruction of the planet Scadrial. However, the previous Lord Ruler had prepared for such a contingency and stashed supplies across the planet despite being a tyrant.
The story runs along to the point where they eventually face Ruin in combat before destroying his army and his body as well. The prophecy is fulfilled as the Terris Keeper Sazed is tasked with realigning the world, which changes from a red, volcanic wasteland to a blooming, green, new planet full of verdant bushes and colorful flora and blue skies.
Steelheart is the first book in the Reckoners series.
It is not part of the Cosmere universe. It tells the story of a dystopian version of Earth that has changed drastically due to an entity known as Calamity.
The story starts ten years after Calamity appeared in the sky, which led to ordinary humans gaining amazing superhuman powers. Super-powered humans are called Epics. The epics seem to be slightly evolved, psychopathic versions of humans with very little regard for human life.
The book is narrated through the viewpoint of a fellow named David, who lives in Chicago that is ruled by an extremely powerful and nigh-invincible epic named Steelheart.
Steelheart kills David’s father, but in the process, David learns about Steelheart’s secret weakness. Afterward, he joins forces with “The Reckoners,” a group of humans specializing in hunting and killing epics.
11. Mistborn: The Alloy of Law
The Alloy of Law is the first book in the Wax and Wayne series but the fourth book in the Mistborn series. It follows the Hero of Ages and precedes “Shadows of self.” It was published on the 8th of November 2011 by Tor Books.
This series is set in Scadrial, 300 years after the events in Hero of Ages. The magical concept of Twinborn in the story series is introduced in this book. It follows the crime-fighting antics of Waxillium Ladriana and his friend and crime-fighting partner Wayne. They travel across Scadrial investigating and solving crimes.
Starsight is the sequel of the sci-fi novel by Brandon titled Skyward. Delacorte Press published it on the 26th of November 2019.
It opens on the continuation of the Krell war, but this time the humans are gaining the upper hand as they have pushed the war into the cold void of space.
Spensa’s “genetic defect” has proven to be extremely useful. It has given them a significant advantage as they can tap into Krell’s communication systems using Spensa’s gift.
They continue the fight against Krell as they gain more information about the lonely planet that holds them.
They try to prevent some of the people in their company from summoning planet-destroying monsters known as “Delvers.” Intrigue, passion, and action is guaranteed in this book—a fine offering from the mind of Brandon.
13. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
This book was published in October 2007 by Scholastic Press.
It is a story about a boy named Alkatraz Smedry who encounters some strange circumstances and has to go on an adventure with an older adult claiming to be his Grandfather.
14. The Rithmatist
The Rithmatist is a fantasy novel released in 2013.
It follows the story of a teenage boy named Joel who schooled at Armedius Academy. Though he is not a Rithmatist, he is piqued by the subject and interested in its study. When trouble looms, he volunteers to help a professor at the academy clear things up.
15. The Emperor’s Soul
This book was published in 2012 by Tachyon publications. It is part of the Cosmere, and it won the Hugo award for best novella in 2013.
It is a tale about a woman named Shai who is a thief and practitioner of magical forgery. She is imprisoned and sentenced to death but is told she can regain her freedom if she can forge a new soul for the emperor, a task that seems impossible. She is given 100 days to finish the job, and so she sets about her task.
Brandon Sanderson is one of the finest writers the world has ever seen. His books bear ample testament to this fact. His ability to churn out copious volumes of excellent stories in short periods sets him above other writers of his ilk. If you have never read his work, you will do well to pick one of the above-listed volumes and get right to it.