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Comic Book / White Sand

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White Sand is a graphic novel created by Brandon Sanderson and Dynamite Comics. It's part of Sanderson's The Cosmere 'verse and the first Cosmere work not to be a prose work. As a matter of fact, White Sand was originally written as a book (and can be obtained via email) and was supposed to be released as one, but when Dynamite asked Sanderson if he wouldn't like to adapt any of his unpublished works, White Sand was remade as a graphic novel instead. It was released in three parts.

Taldain is a Tidally Locked Planet, stuck between a bright star that produces light and a dark star glowing with UV radiation. On the Dayside, the sunlight imbues the sand with magic properties. This enables a group of people called Sand Masters to control it and form it on grand scale, although the sand used this way turns dark until the sun "refuels" it again. One of those Sand Masters is Kenton, who just happens to be the weakest of them - which is slightly embarrassing, seeing how his father is one of the most powerful Sand Masters and the commander of the entire order. Kenton soldiers on, though.


However, not all is fine. The Sand Masters are ambushed and slaughtered, and Kenton's apparently the sole survivor of the massacre. Teaming up with a mysterious Darksider Khriss and her entourage, he sets out to uncover who orchestrated this attack on his kinsman - and escape before the enemy can finish the job.

Tropes present in White Sand:

  • Action Dad: Kenton's father, Praxton, on account of being one of the most powerful Sand Masters out there.
  • Adaptation Distillation: In the original novel, Praxton is mentioned to have several children, with Kenton being the youngest; in the comic, they're mentioned only once.
  • The Ageless: Skathan, the man whose magical powers are what prompted Khriss and her fiance to seek out the "Sand Mages" is apparently unaging - Baon mentions him looking exactly the same when he himself was a child and when he left for Dayside as an adult.
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  • Alchemy Is Magic: High-level sand mastery apparently lets you do stuff like turn sand into water.
  • The Alcoholic: The Lord Admiral is drunk all day, every day, and considers alcohol to be one of the very few pleasures of his life.
  • Always Night: The Darkside, as there's no sun there.
  • Angst Nuke: Praxton's Dying Moment of Awesome is released by his roar of rage.
  • Anti-Magic: The sandling's touch negates any form of Sand Mastery.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Despite searching for Sand Mages, when they first see Kenton use sand to fly, the Darksiders think for a moment that he's using wires.
  • Arc Symbol: The x-on-a-square scar branding Kerztian warrior-priests. It means no good.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Subverted with darksiders having dark skin and lightsiders light, which seems the opposite of the way it should be. Word of God explains it as Darksiders having their own "dark star" that emits powerful UV radiation and little visible light.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: The final chapter in volume two has a drastically different art style, owning to a change of artist. The third volume has another artist yet again, but his style is a middle-ground between the two that preceded it.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Assassins constantly try to kill Kenton so that the diem would fall. Kenton deals with them quite easily after the first fight.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The Sand Masters are ranked according to who's the most powerful, with the least powerful at the bottom of the chain.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Aarik is an excellent swordsman and fighter who's Muggle Best Friend of Kenton's.
    • Baon is Khrisalla's bodyguard, and a freakin' good one at that. When the warrior daikeen attack the group, he deals with them better than a Sand Master.
  • Bald of Awesome:
    • Invoked; higher-ranking Sand Masters shave their heads.
    • Baon has a bald head.
  • Bandaged Face: Nilto the Lord Beggar's face is wrapped in bandages. The small patches of skin we can see don't look... very healthy at all.
  • Bedouin Rescue Service: Zig-zagged. After being buried in sand, Kenton is rescued by Khriss's caravan, but who's the local "savage" and who the inexperienced foreigner is reversed.
  • Bequeathed Power: Kenton is convinced that his father's last action transferred his power to Kenton. That said, He didn't, and this theory of Kenton is never touched upon again.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Sandlings have blue teeth and the inside of their mouth and their tongue are green. Plus, their carapaces dissolve in water.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Sandlings are blind, but Kenton describes them as being able to "sense" sand, with rumours going that they can "talk" to it as well.
  • Blow Gun: The Kerztian zinkallin is a mechanical blowgun that works on air pressure.
  • Break the Haughty: The slaughter of Sand Masters is pretty much this, bringing them down from a respected - if reviled - order of powerful warriors to a handful of people, most of them still trainees, who have to defend their profession from being dissolved and Sand Mastery from being outlawed.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The Daysiders call blowguns "zinkallins".
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: The Lord Admiral passes out within seconds of opening his party.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Aarik first pops up helping Ais defeat a thug, then turns out to be Kenton's old friend.
    • Nilto casually appears as Khriss searches for clues about Gevin's fate. He's actually Gevin.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Kenton's experience as a Rules Lawyer and his obsession with finding loopholes lets him get the upper hand during his argument with the Taishin.
  • Church Militant: The new Kerztian daikeen are warrior-priests out to punish the "infidels", AKA the Sand Masters.
  • Clean Food, Poisoned Fork: At the ceremony, it wasn't the water that was poisoned, but the bowl.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Sand Masters can be distinguished from other brown-clothed Daysiders by their white garbs.
    • The Sand Master's ranks are visible as colors of their sashes.
  • Color Motif: Black and white for Darkside and Dayside. The Darksiders are black, there's no light there and the sand is presumably black, as it's not refueled by sun. The Daysiders are white, their magic users wear white clothes and the land is basked in sunlight and full of the eponymous white sand.
  • Combo Platter Powers: Sand Mastery generally revolves around telekinetically manipulating sand into tools, weapons, and shields. Even their Not Quite Flight is accomplished by using the sand to lift themselves into the air. And then there's slatrification, which is turning sand into water.
  • Cool Shades: Subverted - while Khriss, Jon and Cynder all wear glasses, Badass Normal Baon does not.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Overmastery. Sand Mastery dehydrates the user, so when you Master too much, all water reserves in your body are depleted, literally drying you out to death.
  • Cunning Linguist: Kenton knows several Dayside and Darkside languages, which makes him the group's translator when he's travelling with Khriss.
  • Darkest Hour: For Kenton, it comes when, after hearing the rumors of surviving Sand Masters, he crosses the desert to Kezare and finally reaches the diem, only to find it empty. He slumps against a wall, curls up and, for the first time in the story, just plain gives up. Dirin shows up a moment later, revealing that some Sand Masters are still alive, but there's so few of them they occupy very small part of the diem now.
  • Dark Secret: Ais has one we don't know yet.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Kenton has brown skin and blonde hair.
  • Determinator: Kenton is shaping up to be one. He's determined to become a Sand Master even if he has very little power and others are mocking him.
  • Determined Widow: Khriss is travelling to Dayside to fulfill her deceased fiance's dream of learning about the Sand Masters - or "Sand Mages" as they call them - and she's going to cut through all the red tape to get what she wants.
  • Devil's Advocate: When Kenton outlines his ideas about how the the Kerztians managed to kill the Mastrells, Aarik is quick to point out holes in his logic.
  • The Dreaded: Skathan, a mysterious man whose influence and power is the purpose behind Khriss and Gevaldin's journey to acquire "Sand Magic".
  • The Drunken Sailor: The only alcoholic in the story is the Lord Admiral.
  • Dual Wielding: Aarik wields two sabres and is apparently capable of using both at the same time very well.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Praxton goes out by Sand Mastering on a scale unseen anywhere else on pages of the comic - the entire sky turns red, thousands of sand arrows shoot out in all directions and wave of sand buries both sides.
  • Endless Daytime: The Dayside, of course.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Multiple.
    • Drile's introduced as having tried to sell his Sand Master skills for money.
    • The whole story starts with Kenton arguing with his father about skill vs. strength and how he wants to go through Mastrell's Path to prove his worth.
    • Praxton, for that matter, is quickly established as a jerkass and Fantasy-Forbidding Father in the same argument.
    • Aarik's first scene is beating up a thug in two sword moves and throwing a snarky comment before disappearing into the streets.
    • Khrissalla enters the tent like a supermodel on a catwalk.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The moment when Kenton realizes that he's the last Sand Master alive gets a double page spread of him standing in a field of corpses.
  • Fair Cop: Tract Ais is quite comely.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Praxton is implied to be a Fantastic Classist, looking down on non-Sand Masters. Frankly, their system of ranks promotes that kind of thinking.
    • Kenton has heard opinions that his Darksider mother has "poisoned" the bloodline, leading to his extremely weak Sand Mastery.
    • The Darksiders consider Daysiders to be little more than barbarians, even calling them such among each other.
  • Fantastic Rank System: The Sand Masters' students are assigned their positions according to their power level, which, as Kenton muses, puts him way, way at the bottom of the ladder. Students can advance in position, but once they are promoted to "full" Sand Masters, they are assigned a permanent rank. There are seven ranks, with two lowest being underfen and fen, middle one being diemfen, and the highest being mastrell.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Hysterically, given the genre, Praxton is one for Kenton. He outright says to his son that despite having worked hard, Kenton has no Sand Master talent and should give up pursuing a stupid dream, because he won't advance beyond lowest ranks anyway. Kenton seems adamant to prove him wrong.
  • Fetch Quest: The goal of Mastrell's Path exam is to collect five spheres hidden around the training area. The aim of it is to push a Sand Master to use his power, as the spheres aren't supposed to be accessible in a normal way.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: In a universe of sixteen godlike Shards creating worlds from ground up, on a planet full of magic, the Sand Masters practice atheism. Subverted in that they (or at least Elorim) still turn to the Sand Lord when it comes to lost causes like Kenton.
  • Floating Head Syndrome: The cover, as you can see above, has Khriss', Baon's and Praxton's heads floating over Kenton.
  • Foil: Under-mastrell Elorin seems to be one to Praxton - he openly notes that the Mastrell's Path was specifically designed for people to make themselves feel superior, raises objections to Kenton's plan to prove himself without resorting to ad persona and is generally kinder towards Kenton. He also uses the rules to support Kenton rather than bend them to hinder him, like Praxton tries to do.
  • Functional Magic: Sand Mastery. A Sand Master can control sand, and how much he or she can control depends on their power level. Only white-colored sand can be controlled, and after being spent, it turns black and is unresponsive until sun recharges it and it turns white again. Using sand dehydrates a Sand Master, so unless he drinks, he can quite literally die of thirst in a matter of minutes.
  • Greed: Said to be Drile's motivation behind betraying the diem - he wanted to make money off his skills, while Praxton punished him for it.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Sand Mastery talent is innate; what you have is what you get. This is why everyone is so disdainful of Kenton's lack of power, and why the ranks of full Sand Masters are fixed. In volume 2, Kenton begins to theorize that this is all a lie so that the mastrells can hoard power. All Sand Masters are forbidden from overusing their powers as they are told this causes permanent damage, but any soldier will tell you that the only way to build muscles is to keep exercising until it hurts.
  • The Heretic: The common opinion about Sand Masters seems to be that they're either heretics or flat-out infidels.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Kenton uses a curved sword to aid him with sand control, to the disdain of his father.
  • Hidden Depths: Lord admiral Delius is not just an embarrassing, useless drunk everyone thinks him to be — in fact he is a very successful businessman planning his Revenge on those who have wronged him.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The tonks, the mounts used in the desert, are sort of sandstone horses with rhino horns and long, segmented tails. Daysiders ride them a lot.
  • In Medias Res: The first book starts in the middle of an argument between Kenton and his father.
  • In the Hood: Sand Masters' "uniform" includes a hood. Justified, as they need some protection from the sun.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Upon seeing Mastrell's Path:
    Kenton: Remind me again, why did I think this was a good idea?
  • Jerkass: Kenton's father. Over the first three pages of his appearance, he constantly puts his son down, treats Kenton's new ideas with disdain, argues that brute force is the only way for a Sand Master to be successful, mocks the idea of using a sword, laughs at Kenton's inability to slatrify and states that even if Kenton accomplishes Mastell's Path, Praxton still won't promote him above fen rank, which is just blatantly unfair. Later, when Kenton is on the Path, he mocks him from above for not "gliding elegantly on the sand" like Sand Master should. That's not to mention that he engaged in a shouting match with his son in front of all the Sand Masters in the diem.
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: For all the bad that can be said about him, Praxton defied Fantastic Racism of Dayside by fathering a child with a Darksider, ends up proudly making his son a Mastrell and would probably rebuild the relationship with his son if he wasn't forced to have a Dying Moment of Awesome saving Kenton.
  • Kaiju: The sandling is positively enormous - its mouth is so big, three people Kenton's height could stand in it one on top of another. It's also blind, usually subterrestial, and absolutely deadly.
  • Kill It with Water:
    • Many Dayside creatures are highly vulnerable to water, as it melts them. Water vines use it as a defense tactic - they store water so that it'd melt the mouth of any creature who'd try to take a bite.
    • The sand is rendered black and inert by pouring water on it.
  • Know When to Fold Them: Aggressively defied. Everyone tells Kenton that he should give up, but it seems like the more they do so, the less likely he is to abandon Sand Mastery.
  • Lamprey Mouth: Sandlings have round mouths full of inwards-pointing teeth.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Praxton is the Lord Mastrell of Sand Masters in an Asskicking Equals Authority system; Kenton in one of the oldest trainees in his diem and has no talent at all. They also disagree on the topic of what matters for Sand Master - Praxton says it's power, Kenton claims it's skill. Understandably, they're not on best of terms.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: Kenton apparently inherited Sand Master skills from his father.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Sand Masters were apparently too disdainful of "brute" and "vulgar" weapons like swords to forbid them from being used on the Mastrell's Path, which Kenton utilizes to take his own blade - which he uses as a crutch to aid him with his magic - to the test.
    • Kenton manages to preserve the Sand Master profession for two more weeks thanks to remembering the loophole that renders the Taishin's decision to dismantle the diem void.
  • The Lost Lenore: Rare Male Example with Gevaldin, Khriss' fiance, whose death motivates her to travel to Dayside to seek out the "Sand Mages".
  • Magic Knight: Kenton uses his sword and training with soldiers in conjunction with his relatively weak Sand Mastery. This enables him to fight without relying too heavily on sand to the point of overmastery.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Pay attention to the clouds. Faces - and at one point, a skull - show up during many significant events.
  • Missing Mom: Kenton's mom is gone for one reason or another.
  • Mirror Monologue: Aarik has a scene where he discusses with his reflection whether he should stay and help Kenton or leave before the whole mess drags him down as well. He stays.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Kenton's mother was a Darksider.
  • Muggle Best Friend: Aarik is Kenton's good friend from Kezare, and the two of them love spending times together. He's pretty blasé about Sand Mastery.
  • Mundane Utility: The Sand Masters often use their powers to travel. They could also help build structures quite easily; the fact that they haven't done so in a very long time is a mark of their pride. Kenton decides to start as part of his efforts to sway public opinion.
  • Nasty Party: The Sand Masters are poisoned and attacked at a graduation ceremony.
  • Nepotism: Discussed when Praxton notes that for all of Kenton's hard work and determination, everybody will say that he only became a Mastrells because his father is in charge of promotions.
  • Night-Vision Goggles: Inverted as Day Vision Goggles - Darksiders must wear goggles when going to Dayside, as their eyes are critically unused to dealing with perpetual sunlight.
  • Not Quite Flight: Sand Masters "fly" by getting the sand to carry them through the air.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: You know the situation is bad when Kenton gives up.
  • Overt Operative: Kenton realizes immediately that Ais is a spy for the Lady Judge, and she doesn't contradict him. He and Aarik have a few laughs over that.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Aarik's hair covers one of his eyes; it's the "solitary" variety.
  • Pride Before a Fall: The Sand Masters are haughty, refuse to use their powers for money or to help anyone else, and keep to themselves, thinking themselves above the rest of society. In fact, they think themselves untouchable and thus lack combat training that would have saved them when the Kerztians attacked. Their unsociability and unwillingness to help others plays a key part in why the other guilds are willing to vote to disband them.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Invoked when Kenton notices a patch of deep sand and mentions in his monologue that it's dangerous.
  • Race Against the Clock: Kenton is given two weeks to prove that the Sand profession should be preserved rather than dismantled.
  • Random Power Ranking: Sand Masters' Fantastic Rank System is based on seven power ranks, with underfen and fen being the lowest.
  • Recruitment by Rescue: Kenton manages to get the Lord General on his side by rescuing him from a massive sand beast.
  • Rebellious Spirit: The harder his father tries to put him down, the more Kenton rebels against him - and, by extension, against the whole power ranking system.
  • The Reveal: As per usual with Brandon's work, there's a lot of these in the last third. They include the following:
    • Nilto is Gevin. His face is so messed up because he was shot in the face by Skathan's servants.
    • Acron is Skathan's servant who has come to Dayside to find and kill Gevin.
    • Not only was Baon sent by Skathan to find out whether the sand will be a danger to the Dynasty - he was also sent by Khriss' home nation Elis to protect her.
    • Sharezan, the killer that Ais tries to hunt down for most of the story, turns out to be her closest colleague, Tain.
    • Heelis sent Ais to protect Kenton so that she would get to know him personally. If he convinces her - a person who hates Sand Masters more than anything else - that the Diem should continue to exist, then it truly deserves it, which is why Heelis eventually gives her the vote.
    • The poisoning wasn't Drile's doing, it was Elorin, who poisoned the vessel, so the liquid would still be poisoned after refilling.
  • Rules Lawyer: Kenton rejects the diem's decision to dissolve the Sand Master's guild, claiming that they did not give the new Master (him) proper notice before a vote that would permanently impact the guild. The diem concedes that he had correctly quoted the law, and then say that the notice is hereby given, which, given how badly the vote had gone against the Sand Masters, means that they have until the next meeting to justify their continued existence or they will be disbanded.
  • Sand Blaster: Sand Masters are all about this. They can control sand, travel on it, use it offensively and defensively, form it into static constructs and even transmute it into water. Their only limits are dehydration and the fact that sand turns black and useless after being used.
  • Sand Worm: The sandling. Technically a sand Giant Enemy Crab, but it still counts. It's adapted to the sands, so while direct sand mastery won't do much to it unless it can get under its shell, water can dissolve said shell quickly.
  • Schizo Tech: It's pretty hard to nail down the tech level. On one hand, Daysiders seem like a fairly straightforward medieval society in a desert setting, but Darksiders have guns and dynamite, and there's something akin to a radio visible in one panel when Kenton's recuperating in his father's tent.
  • Schmuck Bait: During his training, Kenton finds the last sphere in the midst of a perfect round plaza of deep sand, and goes for it, wondering what kind of winds would create a structure like this. Of course, it's a sandling den.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: The Sand Masters, as an organization, haven't paid for anything in centuries. Kenton's father apparently kept a record of the Diem's debts for the sole purpose of demonstrating how they could ignore them. Kenton manages to earn quite a bit of good will just by starting to actually use money.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: Khrissalla is a duchess with very little practical expertise, and seems unable to fully process the extent of Sand Masters' butchery, as she doesn't think much about it.
  • Sole Survivor: Kenton becomes one - or at least thinks so - when other Sand Masters are killed. Subverted in that a group of trainees and the architect of Mastrell's fall and his cohort survived as well.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: The Mastrells - the most powerful Sand Masters - are poisoned before Kerztian fanatics attack so that they'd dehydrate first and thus be unable to Sand Master.
  • Thirsty Desert: Dayside seems to be a giant desert surrounded by an ocean, according to the map. Khriss and her group are in early stages of dehydration when they meet Kenton, as some of their party have run off with most of their supplies, including water, and their guide has been killed. Kenton finds it hilarious - it turns out that spilling just a bit of water on the sand brings out water vines, which store the precious liquid as a defense measure.
  • This Is My Boomstick: Baon introduces Daysiders to guns by blowing a head off a Kerztian trying to murder Kenton. Kenton is suitably freaked out.
  • Those Two Guys: Acron and Cynder, the two scientists who travel with Khrisalla and continuously bicker with each other.
  • Tidally Locked Planet: Taldain has one side always facing the sun and the other always away from it.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Ais' dilemma in volume two, once the daikeen begin attacking Kenton. As his assigned bodyguard, she's supposed to protect him; but her religion considers all Sand Mages evil, and she considers the daikeen assassins heroes for tring to kill him.
  • Un-Sorcerer: Downplayed, but Kenton is very weak Sand Master. He's said to be able to support one sand ribbon, while all other Sand Masters can support fifteen or more, which means he's fifteen times weaker than all of his peers. Subverted when he becomes able to support three ribbons after Overmastering once, and five in total after Overmastering a second time.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Kenton thinks of himself this way, noting that his ability to control the sand in a highly precise fashion compensates for the fact that he's one of the weakest Sand Masters.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: For all his Rebellious Spirit, Kenton's need to prove to his father that he can be a Sand Master seems to factor quite seriously into his decision to run Mastrell's Path, and after Praxton dies, he's unable to Sand Master for a while.
  • Wham Line: In Volume 2:
    Kenton: What's your name, man?
    Man: Trell, sir.
  • "X" Marks the Hero: Inverted; the "X"-shaped scar on forehead marks the Kerztian warrior-priests, who are villainous mooks in the story.
  • You Are in Command Now: As the only living person with a Mastrell's sash, Kenton gets coerced into becoming the leader of the survivors.
  • Young Future Famous People:
    • White Sand marks the first chronological appearance of Khriss (here initially known as Duchess Khrissalla), known to Cosmere afficionados as a scientist, explorer of Shardworlds, employer of poor Nazh and author of Ars Arcana found in Cosmere novels. Here, she's apparently still before her worldhopping days.
    • In volume 2, a very unexpected character shows up: Trell, one of the Forgotten Gods of Scadrial.


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