Creator: Brandon Sanderson
The man himself.
An American fantasy author born in 1975. He is oft-acknowledged for his Mistborn
and The Stormlight Archive
series. He is also widely known for being selected to finish The Wheel of Time
saga after the death of Robert Jordan
His works are famous for their strict and innovative rules-based magic systems
. Often quoted for his First Law: "An author's ability to solve conflict with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic."
He has released 20 novels since his 2005 debut Elantris
. Several of his works have been Doorstoppers
(which he sometimes releases two per year), and plans to be even more
prolific in the future, having at least 30 novels planned. Those are just the stories in his Verse
, not even all the stories, just the main ones. He also pursues various geeky One of Us
interests in his spare time, including Magic: The Gathering
, Fan Conventions
and Tabletop Games
He also heartily embraces New Media
to the point of providing his own Celebrity Blog
, participating extensively in fan forums, releasing several ebook test balloons, and making his own write-your-own-novel Pod Cast Writing Excuses
, co-moderated by his friends Howard Tayler, artist and writer of Schlock Mercenary
, Dan Wells, author of the I Am Not a Serial Killer
horror trilogy, and Mary Robinette Kowal, author of Shades of Milk and Honey
and numerous short stories.
You can check out his website here
for lots of cool info about his works. Check out fan forum 17th Shard
for all your Brandon-obsession needs.
Original works by Brandon Sanderson
- The Cosmere
- "The Hope of Elantris", a tie-in short story set during the climax of the events from Elantris.
- The Emperor's Soul, a standalone novella set on the Elantris world.
- Warbreaker, available for free as a sample ebook on Sanderson's website.
- The Stormlight Archive (First installment, The Way of Kings, released in August 2010)
- "Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell", a short story, found in the Dangerous Women anthology.
- "Sixth of the Dusk", a short story, found in the Shadows Beneath anthology.
- The Alcatraz Series, notable in that while they're aimed at the Children/YA audience, they still have his signature cool new magic systems, philosophical digressions, and a decidedly snarky sense of humor.
- Legion, a novella set in a modern day setting; has been optioned for a TV series based on it.
- The Rithmatist, a Steam Punk YA novel featuring chalk-based Geometric Magic.
- The Reckoners Trilogy, a post-apocalyptic YA novel about superpowers that only villains can receive, and the Cape Busters who work to assassinate them.
There are also a number of short stories available (mostly on his website) for readers to enjoy. These include tie-ins to his larger works as well as stand-alone short stories in both science fiction and fantasy. Cosmere stories are listed above.
- "Centrifugal": Written when he was a high school senior for a writing contest, it is one of the first stories he ever wrote.
- "Defending Elysium", a standalone SF story.
- "Firstborn", a standalone SF short.
- "I Hate Dragons": Both the original and the extended version of a story used for one of his Writing Excuses podcasts.
- "Dreamer", a horror short story found in the Games Creatures Play anthology.
Collaborations and Tie-Ins
- The last three volumes of The Wheel of Time — The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light — a series previously left unfinished by Robert Jordan when he died.
- Infinity Blade: Awakening and Infinity Blade: Redemption, interquels to the Infinity Blade series; set between the first and second game and second and third game respectively.
- "Heuristic Algorithm and Reasoning Response Engine", a short story co-written with Ethen Skarstedt for the Powered Armor themed Armored anthology.
Tropes common in Brandon Sanderson's works:
- Action Girl: Several, Vin of Mistborn: The Original Trilogy being the most dramatic, although Vivenna of Warbreaker is an Action Girl in training, Sarene has moments, and Jasnah of The Stormlight Archive can kick serious ass if sufficiently motivated.
- After the End: Used in both Elantris (where it's just the titular city) and Mistborn: The Original Trilogy (where the whole world is post-apocalyptic); from what's been revealed so far, his Stormlight Archive series looks to have elements of this as well.
- Arc Number: Four and derivatives (eight, twelve, and especially sixteen). Also ten in The Stormlight Archive, and a little bit in Warbreaker.
- A God Am I: Used in all his works; he's admitted up front that the idea of divinity fascinates him.
- Author Appeal: Boy, does Sanderson ever love his fantasy cities. Almost all of his Cosmere works take place in or around a particular city or cities, with the notable exception of Way of Kings, where much of the action happens on the battlefield (but there's still a subplot that takes place entirely in the city-state of Kharbranth). He has stated this was a deliberate choice to differentiate himself from Robert Jordan and other fantasy stories of that time which usually had the characters travel the world extensively.
- Character Development: No flat characters here; Sanderson makes certain that every POV character and important non-POV characters get their own arc.
- Chekhov's Armoury: Oh lord, yes. Sanderson absolutely loves to use lots and lots of Chekhov's Guns.
- Disc One Final Boss:
- The character who is initially presented as the Big Bad is almost never the actual Big Bad in his works, and they may not even be that villainous, period.
- In Elantris, Hrathen looks like the Big Bad but is actually an Anti-Villain. The real villain is his treacherous, fanatical Dragon-in-Chief, Dilaf.
- In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, the Lord Ruler is initially presented as the Big Bad but he's actually only as bad as he is (that is, an oppressive mass-murderer instead of a xenophobic Jerkass) because the real Big Bad, Ruin, has been toying with his mind while TLR's been keeping him imprisoned.
- In Warbreaker, perhaps the most extreme example, God King Susebron is built up as potentially worse than the Lord Ruler but he's actually a perfectly kind and friendly figurehead. His secretary Bluefingers is the villainous mastermind.
- In The Stormlight Archive, the Parshendi appear to be the villains but while we still don't know much about them apart from their possibly being Voidbringers, the real villain is almost certainly Odium.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: It's been observed that he's rather fond of strong female leads of the royal persuasion. Sarene, Siri, Vivenna, and Jasnah are the most noteworthy.
- Evil Overlord: Elantris uses straight, the Mistborn trilogy deconstructs, Warbreaker subverts.
- Fourth Wall Observer: In The Way Of Kings, Hoid states that "I began life as a thought, a concept, words on a page." This ties in with his being a recurring character that helps tie the various book series of the Cosmere together.
- Functional Magic: Sanderson is very fond of inventing new magic systems, giving them clearly defined rules and ensuring they have a logical place in their respective settings. The Mistborn series, for instance, features three different magic systems, with the most important one, allomancy, working by having the user imbibe certain metals or alloys and then "burning" them to affect their own bodies in esoteric ways.
- Gambit Pileup: Intricate plotting and scheming is pretty common in all his works, with Warbreaker being the most extreme example. This has lead to the coining of the phrase "Sanderson Avalanche" where he somehow manages to bring all these massive gambits to, generally, satisfying conclusions in a very small space. The last few chapters of a Sanderson book tend to move at breakneck speed. This may have contributed to his selection as the author to untangle The Wheel of Time's notorious Kudzu Plot.
- Guile Hero: Sanderson is fond of clever characters, and many of his heroes rely as much on their wits as their physical abilities.
- Magic A Is Magic A:
- Magnificent Bastard: Sanderson likes smart characters and charismatic characters, so it's no surprise that there are a number of his who qualify for this trope, usually one per world. Hrathen in Elantris, Kelsier and the Lord Ruler in Mistborn, Denth in Warbreaker and Sadeas in Way of Kings are all solid examples.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Given the high ratio of Guile Heroes in Sanderson books, it's perhaps unsurprising that this tactic is frequently employed. He's especially fond of having female characters thrust into strange court settings do it, but King Taravangian probably takes the cake for how well he plays everybody.
- Our Gods Are Greater: The Shards of Adonalsium. Each Shard embodies an aspect (Honor, Preservation, Ruin, Odium, Cultivation, etc.) of the now-shattered Adonalsium, and holds a portion of its former power; the Shards also act as the source of the Cosmere's various magic systems. Shards and their holders have significant power to alter reality, but are limited by their aspect in how they can supply their magic. Preservation gifts you magic while Ruin steals magic from another with some fraction of the magic ruined. They are also limited to some extent in what they can do with their magic. Cultivation, who presumably cares about cultivating things for the future, is better at seeing the future than Honor, who cares about honor in the present.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Elantris play this one straight. Warbreaker plays with it somewhat bizarrely: the King technically breaks his agreement by sending the wrong daughter to marry the foreign king, but then she turns out to be perfect for him! And in Words of Radiance, a betrothal is arranged between Shallan and Adolin, and they both think it's a great idea, to the surprise of pretty much everyone, and get along pretty well with each other, despite both of them having a tendency to offend just about everyone else they meet.
- Playing with a Trope: Sanderson loves taking the typical tropes of High Fantasy and putting unique spins on them. In particular, Mistborn: The Original Trilogy is a Genre Deconstruction of said genre that assumes that the evil overlord won in the past and goes with it from there, while Warbreaker explicitly has reversals of expectations (for both characters and the reader) as a theme, and so deals heavily in subversions.
- Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Averted — all of his major female characters are feminine to a greater or lesser degree, and all end up Badass in their own way.
- Rousseau Was Right: Most major characters in Sanderson's works have sympathetic motivations for their actions, though he'll usually throw in at least one really evil person for variety's sake. He stated in an interview that he doesn't think of any of his novels as having villains, just characters who, for varying reasons, made the wrong decision(s). This is most obvious in Warbreaker, whose Big Bad and The Dragon are both given sympathetic backstories and motivations, and whose most evil character is essentially hired muscle rather than a villain in his own right. Taking this into account, this just makes one of his Annotations calling the Big Bad of Elantris, Dilaf "an evil man" all the more meaningful. However, even that one has a Freudian Excuse.
- Troperiffic: As the rest of this page shows, Sanderson likes his fantasy tropes. He also likes doing things to them.
- The Verse: Elantris, Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive, Warbreaker, and several unpublished novels are in the one universe—The Cosmere (individual planets are known as Shardworlds). Much of what is known about the Cosmere comes from Word of God, and the hints about it in the books themselves tend to be less than obvious— with one exception, a recurring character called Hoid. Hoid has appeared as a beggar, an informant, a storyteller, and the king's Wit. Hoid's exact importance, motive, and true role is unknown, but he can definitely travel between worlds and knows more about the Cosmere than most other characters. He is, according to the glossary of the third novel of Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, "A mystery yet to be solved." It is pretty much confirmed he was there at the shattering of Adonalsium as well, which means he must be thousands of years old. Brandon has confirmed that Hoid uses Shadesmar, an alternate plane of reality also called the cognitive realm, to travel from world to world, and that he has some way of both slowing down time and living longer than a normal human should. He will play a major role in the Stormlight archives, and many more hints were dropped down in the second book.
- Wham Episode: It's so common for the last few chapters of every book to be one Wham after another that it's earned a Fan Nickname: the "Sanderson Avalanche".
- Word of God: Sanderson is very good about interacting with his fans, and his website is chock full of interesting tidbits and trivia about current and upcoming books. He churns out annotations for each book where he comments on the writing process behind each chapter, and tends to drop pieces of lore or character traits that just didn't make the final cut or that weren't terribly obvious.
Short Story tropes
- Almighty Janitor: All light speed communication is handled exclusively by a phone company, without anyone else on Earth knowing how it is done.
- Broken Pedestal: At the end of the story.
- Handicapped Badass: Jason Write is completely blind but definitely not someone you should mess with.
- Hidden Elf Village: Inverted: the galaxy at large is the elf village and our solar system is kept isolated so we don't wreck it. (Only the Phone Company knows this reason).
- Humans Are Superior: Played with. Human technology is far in advance of all other races but it is our reliance on technology that is keeping us from being truly civilized. To keep the alien races safe from us the Phone Company has suppressed this information, letting humanity as a whole believe that alien technology is superior and that we are not ready for it yet. In the end however, it is revealed that the alien races are not so morally superior to our own after all.
- Intangibility: Jason teleports himself right up to Edmund with his hand phased into his chest then crushes his heart and phases his hand out again.
- Psychic Powers: Mind over Matter and Teleporters and Transporters, but not Telepathy.
I Hate Dragons
- Blessed with Suck: The protagonist, Skip, has the magical talent (or ‘knack’) of smelling incredibly delicious to dragons. He also has the far less dangerous, yet pretty useless, talent of hearing the punctuation and spelling in a spoken sentence.
- It Will Never Catch On: Skip wants to use his second talent to write a book defining the correct spelling of words.
- Medium Awareness: Skip can hear spelling and punctuation in spoken words.
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others:
Skip: Just today, I’ve heard the word dragon spelled ‘dragoon,’ ‘daragon,’ ‘dragen,’ ‘deragin,’ and ‘blarsnaf.’”
Sorceress: “Er . . . ‘blarsnaf’?”
Skip: “That was from Pug the cook. He speaks Lukarvian
The Hope Of Elantris
- Big Damn Heroes: Dashe is returned to consciousness by the restoration of Elantris, and saves Marisse from dying.
- Fandom Nod: The character Marisse is named for a student of Sanderson's then-future wife as thanks for her incredibly in-depth Dragonology style book about Elantris.
- Flashback: The majority of the story is told as one describing what Ashe was doing for the majority of the climax of Elantris.
- Framing Device: The entire thing, barring the very beginning and end, are Ashe's story in most of the climax of the main novel, told from Marisse's point of view.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Dashe is briefly turned to a Hoed in pain after giving himself to give Marisse and the children time to escape the massacre of Elantris.
- Infant Immortality: In order to balance out Karata's Heroic Sacrifice, Sanderson opted to have all of the children saved in Elantris survive the end of the book.
- Just in Time: Elantris is restored just before Marisse is turned Hoed. Therefore...
- Lodged Blade Recycling: Justified. Dashe, having been impaled with a sword, was restored and healed completely by the restoration of Elantris. He takes the sword that is presumably on the ground at that point to kill Marisse's assailant.
- P.O.V. Sequel: The story takes place around the time of the invasion of Arelon.
- What Could Have Been: This part of the story was nearly in the novel itself, albeit without Marisse's inclusion and told from Dashe's point of view instead at the time of the flashback.
The Eleventh Metal
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Lord Shezler inflict this upon his Skaa in an attempt to make them Snap so he can test new metals on them.
- Heroic BSOD: Kelsier has been feeling increasingly lost, despite becoming a mistborn, out of grief for Mare and because he does not know what to do or who he is anymore.
He didn't know what to do. He hated that. He'd always known what to do. But now...
- He's Back: At the end of the story he has the epiphany he needs and his focus returns.
"Anyone can die, Anyone."
- Super Hero Origin: Where Kelsier first starts to become the hero known as The Survivor of Hathsin.
Heuristic Algorithm and Reasoning Response Engine
- Bolivian Army Ending: The story ends with Karrin cutting open H.A.R.R.E. desperately trying to rescue Karith. It's left unclear whether he survived his wounds or not.
- Combining Mecha: Inverted. The mecha's of the story start off combined with their air support in order to enter battle from orbit but have to separate before they can actually fight themselves. The agile airships also require the mechas as heatshields to be able to withstand re-entry.
- Grew Beyond Their Programming: Karith's personality starts to rub off on HARRE's programming. Despite orders and programming to the contrary HARRE chooses to continue his pilot's heroic Last Stand instead of attempting to save his life by returning to base.
- Initialism Title: Inverted. The title reveals what the acronym HARRE actually stands for.
- Reassignment Backfire: Karith has just transferred from an elite RGK first-strike unit to a much less dangerous advisory role to keep himself safe for his wife and new baby. Then he and Karrin drop in on a boiler infestation that proves to be several years ahead of where it should be on the development tree.
- You Shall Not Pass: Karith's plan is to throw himself at the Boiler army and inflict as much damage as he can to slow their advance into civilian areas.
Sixth of the Dusk
- Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Ones Above, spacefaring humans, are not allowed to interfere with the primitive humans of Dusk's world, not even to trade some of their technology. It's compared to adults refusing to trade with children; no matter how clever the child is, it's still exploitative. However, there's a loophole: They leave behind some of their technology where the primitives can find it, in the hopes that they will advance too quickly, and the Ones Above will be able to legally trade with them before they're actually ready.
- Death World: The islands, especially the Father island, Patji. Every single animal is lethal, violently defensive of its territory, and most of the times psychic. Even the tiniest insects can kill with just one bite, and the plants are only slightly better. Most of them can't actually kill you, but they tend to hide insects that can (and some of them can kill you).
- He Knows Too Much: Dusk decides this is why Patji is trying so hard to kill him, even when he's trying to drive intruders from the island. He knows the secret of the island's heart, the fact that every Aviar must migrate here and eat a special fruit filled with worms. Otherwise, they cannot grant a talent.
- Psychic Powers: Pretty much everything, including most predators, are psychic on the islands. The only defense are the Aviar, psychic birds that humans can tame. They grant a single talent, unique to each species, and are invaluable for shielding minds against psychic detection.
- Spiritual Successor: In many ways, this is Sanderson's version of After Earth (a film which his friend Howard Taylor notably disliked for plotholes). The idea of an environment completely dedicated to killing everything is the same, though the predators are telepathic rather than having the ability to smell fear (which was one of Taylor's suggestions for improving the movie).