The A - Z of Brandon Sanderson
Bookseller Reece Dinn introduces the writing of Brandon Sanderson as part of our new profiles series.
Sanderson became a nigh-desk clerk so he could write on the job, while going to university full time during the day. While at university alone, he finished seven novels. He sent some of the manuscripts off to agents and publishers, and accrued a large amount of rejection letters for his troubles. He got his big break with Tor, who bought his novel Elantris, and published it soon after. He's since gone on to write some of the highest selling, and critically acclaimed, fantasy books of the past decade, even managing to bag a Hugo award for his novella The Emperor's Soul.
Sanderson also finds time to teach Science Fiction and Fantasy writing at Bingham Young University (taking over from the enigmatic David Farland no less), on the same Master's degree course he took himself. On top of this he also volunteers as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on occasion, all while somehow managing to spend quality time with his wife and children.
A truly inspirational person, whose work rate and ethics put us all to shame, his books are among the most popular and best epic fantasy books available today.
All of his books are part of the same universe, called the Cosmere. Each series is separate, but are loosely linked together, and when combined (when all the series are finished), form a grander story that spans a whole cosmos.
The first novel Sanderson had published, Elantris is a stand alone novel that tales the story of the once magical city of Elantris and its powerful, magic-wielding inhabitants that are stricken by a strange plague and the city falls into ruin. A fantastic first novel, gripping and engrossing, that explores several fascinating themes such as how religion can grow and spread, and the mistreatment of the weak, crippled, and ill.
The Emperor's Soul is a novella set in the same world as Elantris, but is almost entirely separate from it. When the Emperor Arshavan is left unconscious after a failed assassination attempt it is up to criminal forger Shai to forge the emperor a new soul to save him, and herself. Winner of the Hugo award for Best Novella, it is an amazing read, worthy of its accolades.
Possibly his most popular book series, excluding his Wheel of Time books, the Mistborn series is one of the most imaginative, complex, action packed, and entertaining epic fantasy's ever written.
The original trilogy, The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages, follows the story of Vin, a thief robbing the rich and powerful with her unique skills, who ends up caught up a rebellion against the godlike Lord Ruler and his oppressive regime. Breathtaking in scale and scope, Mistborn pushes the boundaries of the fantasy genre with its highly imaginative world, complex magic systems, multi-faceted characters, and compelling and engaging plot. Nearly everyone who reads it is swept away by it.
The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, and The Bands of Mourning are set 300 odd years after the events of the original trilogy. The books follow the characters Wax and Wayne as they chase down criminals and solve cases, while becoming embroiled in bigger machinations. Originally intended to be just a fun little side project, The Alloy of Law was such a hit with fans that he decided to write two follow ups to it. The recently released The Bands of Mourning concludes this side trilogy.
With the untimely death of author Robert Jordan, his much loved series The Wheel of Time would seemingly be left unfinished, one book away from the end. The task was eventually handed to Brandon Sanderson, a long time fan of the series. It soon became apparent to him, when he began reading through Jordan's notes, that there was more than enough scope to extend the content of the supposed final book into three novels instead, to the delight of the fans.
The three novels were received with great fanfare, and their success sent Sanderson's own profile skyrocketing, gaining himself many more readers than he might have had if he hadn't have taken up the mantle of finishing Robert Jordan's life work.
The most epic of epic fantasies. Ten years in the making, The Stormlight Archive is one of the vastest and most breathtaking series to have ever been conceived, surpassing even his own previous works. The world Sanderson has created is truly awe inspiring, from the colourful playful spren (strange spirits that appear above and around a person in weird and wonderful forms that reflect the emotions of the person near them), to the amazing fight sequences with magic-wielding characters running up walls at high speeds, Matrix style, to supernatural weapons known as Shardblades. There's scheduled to be ten books in the series in all, so we shall be enjoying it for some time to come. And thanks to Sanderson's high writing output we won't have to wait very long for each new instalment, unlike a certain other author, whose name we won't mention.
Currently a stand alone novel, though he may write more in this universe at a later time, Warbreaker is a fantastic novel set in a world where the gods, people who have died gloriously who are returned to life, live in the mortal world in their own pantheon within the great city of Hallendren, isolated from the rest of the land, including the God King that rules them all. A world with talking swords (always cool), interesting magic called BioChroma that allows the wielder to animate inanimate objects and command them, and gods that question their own divinity. Another fantastic book in Sanderson's ever impressive library.
The final part of the Reckoners series, Calamity, is released 18/02/16. Unusually for a Brandon Sanderson book, the Reckoners books are set on an alternate Earth, as opposed to a 'secondary world'. In this Earth a mysterious moon known as Calamity appears in the sky. Shortly after its arrival people begin to emerge with super powers all over the world, and they are tagged with the name Epics. Unfortunately these powers come with side effects, the power of the Epics also turns them evil, and soon the world is taken over by them, the non-Epic population enslaved and forced into submission. But there are some who are unwilling to just sit back and accept the Epics dominion, and thus the Reckoners are born.
An action packed series, with some incredible set pieces, the Reckoners books are a must for any fan of superhero comics and films, or just great fiction in general really.
There are even more Sanderson books available than the ones listed here, the man is truly one of a kind. His Legion and Alcatraz books, as well as the YA novel The Rithmatist, and the many other novels, novellas, and short stories that are available to download on Kindle. Needless to say you will not be left wanting should you choose to begin your journey through the Cosmere.
A single volume mass market paperback of the first volume in the Internationally bestselling epic fantasy series - a benchmark for the genre
Two standalone novellas from the bestselling fantasy author and heir to Robert Jordan.