Many people who read fantasy will have heard of Brandon Sanderson. He finished the Wheel of Time after Robert Jordan’s death, and he’s incredibly prolific and popular. Many theories abound that he keeps a clone of himself locked in the basement which is how he pumps out stories so quickly.
What many people do not know is that many of his books are linked and are in the same, huge, interconnected series.
Warning: you may disappear down a rabbit hole into the Cosmere after reading this. I advise starting with the Seventeenth Shard and the Coppermind Wiki but both are full of spoilers so if you haven’t read all of his published works, proceed with caution. I will not spoil anything here but I can’t say the same about other sites.
If you enjoy intricate plots, a variety of diverse characters and magic with rule systems, Brandon Sanderson is the man for you.
Brandon Sanderson’s first book was Elantris located on one planet; many of his books are based on other planets in the same solar system. I wouldn’t start with this book however – a common recommendation of where to start is with his Mistborn trilogy, starting with The Final Empire. Elantris is very obviously his first book, it’s not as well written and a little more clunky than some of his others. The Mistborn trilogy focuses on a female lead character; Vin is a young thief alone in the world who discovers her ‘luck’ is actually magic, and is taken in by a group with an audacious plan to take down the emperor. This sounds fairly generic but what drew me in the first time was a single line in the blurb;
‘What if the Dark Lord won?’
I promise Mistborn is anything but generic; the characters are vivid, the plot excellent and a deep and rich world. Once you’ve been hooked by these books, you’ll get to read some of the other standalones, and his greatest works so far – The Stormlight Archive, beginning with The Way of Kings. If you thought the world in Mistborn was fleshed out, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The series is set in a completely alien land full of political intrigue and war, and legends resurfacing after thousands of years; danger is heading for an almost completely oblivious mankind. The tale follows a slave, an orphaned noblewoman, a man who can’t remember his wife’s name and many others among a truly huge cast of characters. There will be ten books – three are currently published.
Both series feature a single character who hops between the worlds – he actually appears in all the books in the Cosmere, although he doesn’t always speak. He is one of the many things tying it all together, but many other characters and objects start world hopping eventually. Watch out for familiar characters appearing in places you don’t expect!
Brandon himself has a suggested reading order and some suggestions of where to start. If you’ve not read any of his books yet and you enjoy fantasy, I strongly recommend you try him out.
And if you have tried him and read all his works, well, chances are he’ll publish another book in the next few months.