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This is a page for general theories about the nature of the Cosmere. For theories about the events in specific books, see these pages:

The Big Bad isn't Odium
In Mistborn: the Final Empire, Kelsier notes that the crew can't fight the Final Empire, but they can "shatter it, then make the pieces fight each other." That's the same logic someone else had about Adonalsium; they couldn't beat him, but they could shatter him into Shards that would destroy each other, like Odium has with Honor.

The reason travel between planets is possible via the cognitive realm is that nothing lives in space
This is based on the fact that on Roshar's cognitive real the continents are covered with an ocean of glass beads representing objects while the oceans are not. I hypothesize that the geography of the cognitive realm is expanded by the number of living, thinking beings in the corresponding Physical Realm location, and that all physical locations are connected in the cognitive realm (via some Alien Geometries to stitch spherical worlds onto a flat plain of course). Since nothing lives in space, there's no distance to cross between planets.
  • As of Mistborn: Secret History, Confirmed, although apparently there's a lower limit on how compressed lifeform-free space can get.

The mechanism that allows divine beings to communicate with mortals is the same across worlds
Specifically, they can only communicate with those with 'broken souls'. In Mistborn, Ruin was able to communicate with and control anyone with a hemalurgic spike, which explicitly damages the soul of the subject. But we never found out he was able to spike Zane, or control Vin's mother. Meanwhile, in the Stormlight Archives, Spren (a type of spiritual being) can only bond to those with 'broken souls' because otherwise there's nowhere for them to connect. Shardvessels like Ruin, Odium, Harmony, and others can only connect with and influence those whose souls have been damaged by either trauma or magic.Which, incidentally, means there's a reason so many prophets are madmen.
  • Zane spiked himself before the events of "The Well of Ascension." Vin's mother, on the other hand, has no such excuse.
  • Literature: Mistborn Secret History confirms that Shardvessels can communicate to certain madmen, and even ordinary seeming people, so this is probably confirmed. Which explains how, exactly, Zane knew how to spike himself.

The total goal of at least one faction in the Cosmere is the restoration of Adonalsium
The idea Restoration appears to a greater or lesser degree in every major Cosmere story/series:
  • Elantris: The curing of the Reod and the restoration of Elantris.
  • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy: Ending the stagnation that plagues that world.
  • Warbreaker: Giving power back to the God-King.
  • The Way of Kings: Commanding the use of the Codes, the return of the Radiants and restoring Shallan's household to its former wealth.
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  • The Alloy of Law: Restoring House Ladrian to its former wealth and (possibly) the return of the Mistborn.
  • The Emperor's Soul: Fixing the eponymous soul.

What's more, we know that a person can hold more than one Shard. If two, why not 16?

The question is, is this a good thing? Odium, who is being set up as the Cosmere's Big Bad, is out there destroying the Shards, which suggests that fixing Adonalsium would be good. However, for whatever reason, he's not taking their power for himself. Perhaps he's Anti-Villain and is preventing the power from falling into the wrong hands.

  • Word of God indicates that he doesn't take the power for himself because he doesn't want to dilute his own purity by adding elements of other Shards to it. That's a... less than admirable motivation, especially when the purity you don't want to dilute is Odium.

Adonalsium shattered itself intentionally

Most people are operating on idea that Word of Brandon's "anti-Adonalsium", the force opposing Adonalsium, won a blow against it and succeeded in shattering it into the 16 shards.

But what if it didn't? What if Adonalsium shattered itself in aid of its own ends?


  • In Words of Radiance, in the second Interlude, Ym tells the following parable:
    Long ago, there was only One. One knew everything, but had experienced nothing. And so, One became many—us, people. The One, —>who is both male and female, did so to experience all things.
    As each experience is different, it brings completeness. Eventually, all will be gathered back in—when the Seventh Land is —>attained—and we will once again become One.
    • The second Letter in the same says:
    The worlds you now tread bear the touch and design of Adonalsium...However, it seems to me that all things have been set up —>for a purpose, and if we—as infants—stumble through the workshop, we risk exacerbating, not preventing, a problem.
It sounds like another one of the Cosmere's religion,but it seems a little out of place. Actually, its inclusion makes even less sense if you don't assume it's foreshadowing.
  • We know Andonalsium, as it was, is gone and gone forever. Brandon has said that if Sazed was killed, he would drop the Shard Harmony, not the Shards Ruin and Preservation. If Andonalsium shattered itself, there would have to be a goal. It would want to come better, not the same.
  • Who better to shatter with intent than Andonalsium itself. If it was the "Anti-Andonalsium", it would probably want to destroy Andonalsium so it could never come back in any sense.
  • Jossed: Khriss seems to think that the 16 original Vessels shattered Adonalsium on purpose.

The Ars Arcanum is written by Hoid
It's written in a first-person point of view, not an omniscient narrator. On the other hand, the writer has knowledge of things from other worlds. He compares Allomancy to the form-based Investitures from Sel, presumably he's speaking of the Awakening found in Warbreaker. So far, only one character has appeared in all of Sanderson's main works, and that is Hoid. Therefore, the Ars Arcanum was written by Hoid.
  • Actually FYI Sel is the world of Elantris. Also I think it was written by one of the members of The Seventeenth Shard, a group mentioned in The Way of Kings that seems to consist of worldhoppers.
  • Investiture is a word used by The Seventeenth Shard to describe magic's effects and power across universes, so that points to them.
  • We aren't actually sure of that. Although we have a vague idea what investiture is, we have no specifics, and Brandon has explicitly stated he won't answer any questions even vaguely related to it.
  • Also, members of the Seventeenth shard appear in The Way of Kings, and Galladon (an Elantrian) and Demoux (from Scadrial) are two of them. It's quite possible they wrote the respective entries in the Ars Arcanum.
    • Jossed: Word of Brandon says a) there's a single author for all the Ars Arcanums, b) that author is not Hoid, c) that author is female, and d) Nazh, the guy who annotated the map in The Alloy of Law (among other things), works for her. It's now more or less confirmed that the Ars Arcanums are written by Khriss, from White Sand.

The Ars Arcanum is written by Odium from The Stormlight Archive
Similar reasoning above, but with the additional note that he takes a peculiar interest in Hemalurgy. Although he tries to defend it as not necessarily evil, it seems like the reasoning someone trying to sound less evil to observers would use.
  • Notably, there is Word of God confirmation in one of the "Note from Brandon" sidebars in the RPG that Hemalurgy IS evil.
    • That sidebar is written to make it absolutely clear to GMs that players who practice Hemalurgy have no room to call themselves "Chaotic Neutral", not that Hemalurgy is in-and-of-itself evil (if the assault, soul-maiming, and parasitism of the practice didn't tip them off). Anyway, the Ars Arcanums have a human author - Khriss from White Sand, several years later. Her interest in Hemalurgy is probably due to its use in transporting powers across worlds, and/or its overarching use of rewriting the soul.

When the final smackdown against Odium comes, some unexpected people will join the fray
Specificaly heroes from other books, both alive and dead. Harmony said that Vin, Elend and Kelser were with him (or words to that effect). I can't see Harmony getting involved but, it Wax's conversation with Harmony is to be belived, he is willing to send people to help. When the final showdown occurs we may find outselves treated to an allstar team up, at least of Mistborn characters. We may even see a few less than heroic ones, TLR is probably the most powerful individual we have seen short of the Harmony and Odium and certainly has a lot to atone for.
  • Also Vin and Eland's tomb was reminiscent of the tomb of King Arthur, and it is said he will come back at the hour of England's greatest need. So why not have Vin and Eland com back at the hour of the Cosmere's greatest need?
  • Sadly Jossed by Mistborn: Secret History: Vin, Elend, and TLR have all passed to "The Beyond," which among other things means their minds are sailing along the myriad Connections of the Spiritual Realm perpetually, surrounded by the people, places, and things that they love. It would be highly difficult (bordering on impossible) for those minds to coalesce again in the Cognitive Realm, and finding another body (and Connecting to it properly) is something that, so far as we know, has only happened once.
  • Actually, the Beyond is not part of the three realms - her mind and spirit are outside of the Cosmere now that she is dead.

Hoid's endgame is to reform Adonalsium... By becoming it.
What do we know of hoid's actions so far? He's hopping from world to world, visiting moments of crisis where the power of the shards is in play or changes hands. He is able to lightweave, he can use feruchemy, he has Breath, he ate a bead of lerasium. And his passage on the world of mistborn happened at a time atium was, if not common, at least not too hard to procure (especially as an informant for the nobility), so he can have some too. He's been munchkinning all the magic systems of the cosmere he's managed to put his hands onto, and already has powers that come from Honor, Ruin, Preservation, and Endowment (one fourth of the shards , and nearly all the shards that have come into play so far).

We also know, thanks to Sazed, that it is possible to merge shards by taking the power of two of them into one's body.

I think Hoid's plan is to fuse all the shards back together by collecting into himself investiture from each and every shard of Adonalsium (through the different magic systems) and fusing it into something similar to investiture from Adonalsium itself. The only problem then is to do the same thing with the whole of the power of each shard instead of just a part of it, but having a bit of pure, whole divine power should help a lot with this.

A lot of characters seem to have names that are meaningful to their character or plot - Hoid sounds kind of like both 'hold' (and means hold in Danish) and 'Void'. Either could imply he is either seeking to hold the shards, or perhaps that he, somehow, is a remnant of Adonalsium. In fact, under the self-shattering theory, this gives at least one possible motive: wanting to experience 'normal' life, or he self-shattered to avoid some unknown worse outcome against the 16.

The not seen but vaguely alluded to God Beyond isn't directly a part of the books. He IS the Cosmere.
  • Basically, the God Beyond is Brandon Sanderson, much like Marvel's One Above All (God of the Marvel multiverse) is heavily implied to be Stan Lee/Jack Kirby.

The known Shard's colors.
It's established in The Hero of Ages that Preservation and Ruin have white and black colors, respectively to their shards. Here's a list of all the shards and their confirmed or speculated colors:

  • Ambition: Unknown, possibly Red if it's the force that Sazed is holding back on Scadrial in The Bands of Mourning

  • Autonomy: Unknown, also possibly Red if it's the force that Sazed is holding back on Scadrial in The Bands of Mourning

  • Cultivation: Brown, described as having bark-like skin in Oathbringer

  • Devotion: White and/or Silver, the colors of Elantrians' skin

  • Dominion: Red (the color of the robes of the Shu-Dereth priests which seems to be based on him) or Black (the color of a Skaze, which "seems to suck in the light around it" according to the Elantris postscript)

  • Endownment: Unknown, possibly Blue, if the flowers referred to as "Tears of Edgli" are related to its Shard essence. Possibly also White, given the affinity of Bio Chroma with colors, to represent all of the Colors combined.

  • Honor: Gold/Blue, the colors of the Knights Radiant

  • Odium: Purple/White, confirmed in Oathbringer

  • Oubrodai Shard(s): Unknown, possibly Blue or Green since the Shard(s) letter to Hoid mentions the sea/ocean repeatedly and intent may have something to do with water

  • Preservation: White, confirmed in The Hero of Ages

  • Ruin: Black, confirmed in The Hero of Ages

  • Survival Shard: Unknown

Remnant, the setting of RWBY is a world in The Cosmere.

  • The Brothers are Yolenese Dragons who took the Shards of Creation and Destruction (Which are distinct from Cultivation or Endowment and Ruin, respectively). So that even if the Brothers took most of their Investiture with them, we still have Aura, Dust, Semblances, and especially the Creatures of Grimm themselves:

    • Aura and Semblances are of Creation, being generated by life themselves, and used primarily to protect oneself and/or others.
    • Dust is of both, being (seemingly) inorganic in composition, but sensitive to Aura, electricity, and explosive force, and (depending on its exact composition) usable for creative, protective, or destructive purposes.
    • The Grimm are of Destruction, being Cognitive Shadows created for the purpose of consuming organic life, taking forms that suggest a twisted parody of the concept of organic life.

Oh, and while normally, certain planetary conditions along with the Intent of the Shard itself dictate the local rules of magic, there are still examples of Shardholders dictating elements of the magic rules themselves. (Tanavast setting up himself as the final arbiter of a Surgebinder's progression along his path of enlightenment, Sazed editing the tables of Allomancy and Feruchemy post-Catecindure, Edgli being the one to decide who is to be Returned.)

When Ozma was reincarnated with the Relics, it brought a sufficient amount of Investiture back to Remnant to generate a new Perpendicularity. (That seems to be the explanation for Threnody, Sel, and First of the Dawn.) As a result, the world began to see tourists from Silverlight and various other Shardworlds. Ozma's latent Investiture could also be which allows his Cognitive Shadow to repeatedly manifest in the Physical Realm, much like how the Heralds are anchored with Investiture to reincarnate on Braize.

It's entirely possible that Rayse murdered the Brothers sometime after the Elder Brother reincarnated Ozma...

  • Alternatively, the Brothers were Laras and Ati, who left Remnant to try again with Scadrial. Salem's behavior permanently strained their relationship, leading to that planet and its human society to become even more dysfunctional. When Ozpin or Salem bring the Relics together, Sazed will appear, very confused at what's going on...

  • Either way, Hoid is either The Shopkeeper (it explains why he can wear so many occupational hats, and how delicious his noodles are), the Faunus Blacksmith, or possibly both.


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