Literature / The Cosmere

"There's always another secret."

Warning: This page assumes that you are familiar with the Cosmere, and will contain no spoiler tags.

The universe occupied by many of the works of Brandon Sanderson. Due to his desire to create an epic length series without requiring readers to buy a ridiculous amount of books, he hid connections to his other works within each book, creating a "hidden epic".

Long ago, a mysterious being called Adonalsium existed on a world known as Yolen. Something happened that made Adonalsium shatter into sixteen Shards, along with Yolen itself breaking, each of the Shards bearing immense power. By taking up these Shards, sixteen people were able to create new worlds, sometimes working in tandem, populating them with people and powering different types of magic. However, over time they came to be molded to the Intents of the Shards. Now, a mysterious man from Yolen called Hoid travels between the Shardworlds, while the people of those worlds rise to become heroes, sometimes coming into contact with the Shards.

There are currently fourteen Cosmere books: ten full length books and four novellas, along with various short stories. These detail the adventures of the people on the Shardworlds created by the people who took up the Shards of Adonalsium. The books and worlds of the Cosmere are:

Tropes featured across the entire Cosmere are:

  • All There in the Manual: Many facts of the Cosmere are only available through interviews with Brandon Sanderson. Thankfully, he's very open as long as they don't spoil future books too much.
  • Another Dimension: The Spiritual Realm and the Cognitive Realm, as opposed to the normally-written Physical Realm.
  • Arc Number:
    • 10 for Warbreaker and The Stormlight Archive.
      • There are also 10 Shardworlds (planets with Shards), so the number 10 may have a more universal significance.
    • 16 for Mistborn, and for the Cosmere as a whole.
    • 3 as well, due to it being the number of realms.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Adonalsium".
    • "There's always another secret".
  • The Cameo:
    • A man named Hoid has appeared in every single Cosmere book except for The Emperor's Soul, where his character's actions are important, but he is only named in a deleted scene and by Word Of God.
    • In The Way of Kings, Galladon from Elantris, Demoux from Mistborn, and a man presumably from White Sand appear in the Purelake, searching for Hoid.
  • Crisis Crossover: The Stormlight Archive is shaping up to be this, with direct references to the Cosmere and various Shardholders and Shardworlds, a direct danger to the entirety of the Cosmere, and a collection of Planar Champions from various other Cosmeric series coming to Roshar after Hoid. Word Of God even refers to it as "the big epic".
  • Dimensional Traveler/Planar Champion: Various characters, by way of the Cognitive Realm. Hoid is the most prominent, with the group of Seventeenth Shard members in The Way of Kings being close behind.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: The Shards, and their Shardholders to a smaller degree.
  • Functional Magic: Each Shardworld has at least one type of magic, each of which follow their own defined rules and the overarching rules of Investiture.
  • God Is Dead: Happens whenever a Shard's holder dies (Devotion, Dominion, Preservation, Ruin, and Honor are the ones we know this happened to), and most likely happened to Adonalsium.
  • God Is Evil: Odium, Ruin, Dominion, and presumably a couple more Shards.
  • Greater Scope Villain: As of The Stormlight Archive, it looks like Odium is shaping up to be this, having caused major problems in Sel prior to Elantris and being feared as a very dangerous figure for the whole of the Cosmere.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Due to Brandon Sanderson and his love for this trope, most worlds have their own rule-based magic systems in accordance with an overall theory known as "Investiture", along with a secondary theory known as "Realmatic Theory" to explain the Cosmere itself.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragonsteel, taking place on Yolen, will include them.
  • Our Souls Are Different: They're Spiritual constructs.
  • Pieces of God: The Shards of Adonalsium. On a further level of pieces, Splinters of those Shards if Splintered by another.
  • Science Fantasy: Varying by the book, but definitely present overall. Worlds that develop long enough tend towards Sufficiently Analyzed Magic and Magitec combined with a high level of technology, and Sixth Of The Dusk actually revolves around the interactions between the native humans of a minor shardworld and genuine Space Explorers. Word Of God is that the Mistborn series will end in a primarily sci-fi setting.
  • Shout-Out: Yolen is undoubtedly named after Jane Yolen. "Adonalsium" might be a tweak on one of God's names in The Bible.
  • Subspace or Hyperspace: The Cognitive Realm, also known as Shadesmar, which connects the different Shardworlds and is how individuals move between them.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Each book in the Cosmere (except the first edition of Elantris) has an appendix "Ars Arcanum" that makes a summary of the magic system of that world as it is known by that point in the series. According to Word Of God, these appendices are in-universe, meaning someone is compiling them. The actual analysis varies within the stories themselves, from scientific theories such as those revolving around BioChroma to entire libraries devoted to the study of the magic system like the one in the city of Elantris, to simple listings of general capabilities like those of Surgebinders.
  • The Verse: Complete with overall theories of magical systems and the organization of the cosmos.
  • Wham Episode: The Way of Kings for the overall Cosmere arc. The connections between the Shardworlds are acknowledged, Hoid gets a larger role, a group of characters from other books appear on a hunt for Hoid, we get introduced to Shadesmar, the Cognitive Realm, and we find out that there is a guy going around and killing Shards.
  • World of Snark: Nearly to the point of it being entirely within reason that invested snark could exist. Hoid, who literally took a job as a professional Deadpan Snarker, is a standout example.