Where to start reading : Brandon Sanderson

Where to start reading : Brandon Sanderson

Starting your journey into the vast, intricate worlds created by Brandon Sanderson can be an exhilarating adventure filled with complex magic systems, profound characters, and expansive storylines. Sanderson, acclaimed for his contributions to the fantasy genre, has penned several series and standalone novels that can be daunting to navigate for newcomers. This guide aims to offer a structured pathway into his universe, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable reading experience.

Understanding Sanderson's Cosmere

Before diving into the specifics, it's essential to introduce the Cosmere, a shared universe where most of Sanderson's adult fantasy novels are set. The Cosmere universe is connected through a deep, underlying mythology, with several series taking place on different planets, each with its unique magic systems, deities, and characters. However, you don't need to understand the entire Cosmere to enjoy a single series or book.

Where to Start

1. "Mistborn: The Final Empire" (Mistborn Era 1)

The Mistborn series is often recommended as the starting point for new readers. The first trilogy, starting with "Mistborn: The Final Empire," introduces readers to a dark, oppressive world where ash falls from the sky, and the mist dominates the night. The magic system, based on metals, is meticulously detailed yet accessible, making it an ideal entry point to Sanderson's writing. Following the journey of Vin, a street urchin who discovers her latent magical abilities, this series blends heist elements with epic fantasy, making it both engaging and innovative.

2. "The Way of Kings" (The Stormlight Archive)

For those willing to dive into a more ambitious project, "The Way of Kings" is the first book in The Stormlight Archive series, Sanderson's most extensive work to date. Set in a world ravaged by storms and where societies are built around the magical artifacts known as Shardblades and Shardplates, this series is known for its deeply developed characters, intricate plot, and breathtaking world-building. It's a commitment, with each book being a tome in its own right, but it's rewarding in its depth and complexity.

3. "Warbreaker"

"Warbreaker" is a standalone novel that serves as an excellent introduction to Sanderson's ability to craft unique magic systems and complex political landscapes. It features a vibrant world where color is used to perform magic, focusing on the lives of two princesses navigating the intricacies of diplomacy and war. It's a great way to sample Sanderson's style without committing to a series.

4. "Elantris"

As Sanderson's debut novel, "Elantris" holds a special place in his bibliography. It explores the fallen city of Elantris, once the home of godlike beings now cursed. This standalone novel is notable for its exploration of religious and political themes, presenting a complete and satisfying story within a single volume.

Progressing Through the Cosmere

After getting a taste of Sanderson's work, readers may choose to explore further based on their interests:

  • Continue with Mistborn: After the initial trilogy, delve into the Wax and Wayne series (Mistborn Era 2), which introduces a mix of Western and detective elements to the Mistborn world.
  • Dive deeper into The Stormlight Archive: With its expansive lore and interconnected storylines, continuing this series offers a rich experience that gets more rewarding with each book.
  • Explore other Cosmere works: Novellas like "The Emperor's Soul" (which won the Hugo Award) and collections like "Arcanum Unbounded" provide deeper insights into the Cosmere universe.

Non-Cosmere Works

Sanderson has also written several notable non-Cosmere books, such as "The Reckoners" series, starting with "Steelheart," which features a world ruled by supervillains, and "Skyward," a science fiction series about a girl dreaming of becoming a pilot in a futuristic society.

Final Tips

  • Join the Community: The Sanderson community is active and welcoming, offering discussions, theories, and artwork that can enhance your reading experience.
  • Take Your Time: Don't rush. Sanderson's worlds are rich and detailed, rewarding those who take their time to savor the nuances.
  • Enjoy the Journey: Each book and series offers a unique adventure. Embrace the surprises, the complex characters, and the intricate plots that make Brandon Sanderson's works so captivating.

Embarking on the journey through Brandon Sanderson's bibliography is not just about reading books; it's about entering worlds where the impossible becomes possible, and the depth of human emotion is explored in all its facets. Whether you start with "Mistborn," "The Way of Kings," or any other entry point, the key is to dive in and let the stories unfold. Don't forget to check out the list of Cosmere books with links to purchase below.

Happy reading!

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Cosmere Books

Elantris Series:

  1. Elantris (2005)

Mistborn Series:

Era 1:

  1. Mistborn: The Final Empire (2006)
  2. The Well of Ascension (2007)
  3. The Hero of Ages (2008)

Era 2:

  1. The Alloy of Law (2011)
  2. Shadows of Self (2015)
  3. The Bands of Mourning (2016)
  4. The Lost MetalΒ  (2022, final book of Era 2)

Warbreaker:

  1. Warbreaker (2009)

The Stormlight Archive:

  1. The Way of Kings : Part One | The Way of Kings : Part Two (2010)
  2. Words of Radiance : Part One | Words of Radiance : Part Two (2014)
  3. Edgedancer (A novella, 2016)
  4. Oathbringer : Part One | Oathbringer : Part Two (2017)
  5. Dawnshard (A novella, 2020)
  6. Rhythm of War : Part One | Rhythm, of War | Part Two (2020)

Cosmere Collections:


  1. Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection (2016) - Contains several novellas and short stories set in the Cosmere, including "The Emperor's Soul," "Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell," and others.

Non-Cosmere Books

Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians Series:

  1. Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians" (2007)
  2. The Scrivener's Bones" (2008)
  3. The Knights of Crystallia" (2009)
  4. The Shattered Lens" (2010)
  5. The Dark Talent (2016)

The Reckoners Series:

  1. Steelheart (2013)
  2. Mitosis (A novella, 2013)
  3. Firefight (2015)
  4. Calamity (2016)

Skyward Series:

  1. Skyward (2018)
  2. Starsight (2019)
  3. Cytonic (2021)
  4. Defiant (2022)

Standalone Novels and Series:

  • Legion (2012) and its sequels, "Legion: Skin Deep" (2014) and "Legion: Lies of the Beholder" (2018), are part of a non-Cosmere series about a man with multiple personalities, each of which possesses a unique skill.

This list does not include every work by Brandon Sanderson, especially newer releases beyond my last update or various short stories and novellas not listed here. Additionally, Sanderson is known for his rapid publication pace, so it's always a good idea to check his official website or fan communities for the most up-to-date information on his works.

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