Cosmere Reading Order: How to read Brandon Sanderson’s Book Series?

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Written by Brandon Sanderson, The Cosmere Universe is a fantasy series that takes us to a long time ago, when there was a God/an entity named Adonalsium. Something happened, and Adonalsium was killed and shattered into sixteen shards, pieces of the power of Creation itself.

The sixteen people who shattered Adonalsium picked up these Shards and became the first vessels. Shards are named after a specific action or ideal, called an intent. When a person holds a Shard, that person is imbued with its power, but also becomes the Shard, being warped by its intent. With a consciousness to direct them, many of the Shards began to Invest their magic and influence in certain planets or peoples.

The Cosmere Reading Order:

Where do I start with the Cosmere Universe? The Reading Order by Series

As Brandon Sanderson continues to publish books in the Cosmere universe, there’s no specific reading order to follow. So, we are offering different book orders, and we begin with Sanderson’s advice to read the books in sequential order, and he adds it doesn’t matter which Cosmere series you start with. Meaning that each one of the following books is a possible entry point in the series :

  • Mistborn: The Final Empire
  • The Emperor’s Soul
  • The Way of Kings
  • Elantris
  • Warbreaker

Let’s take those series one after the other :

I. Elantris Books in Order

  1. Elantris – Elantris was built on magic and it thrived. But then the magic began to fade and Elantris began to rot. And now its shattered citizens face domination by a powerful Imperium motivated by dogged religious views. Can a young Princess unite the people of Elantris, rediscover the lost magic, and lead a rebellion against the imperial zealots?
  2. The Hope of ElantrisShort story available in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection. After Elantris’ restoration Raoden listens to Ashe’s testament to his whereabouts during the last hours before Elantris’ restoration.
  3. The Emperor’s SoulNovella available in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection. After being condemned to death for attempting to steal the emperor’s scepter, Shai is given one final chance. She’ll be allowed to live if she can create a new soul for the emperor, who hovers near death.

II. Mistborn Era 1 (Mistborn Trilogy original in order)

  1. The Final Empire – A half-skaa thief named Kelsier discovers that he is Mistborn and escapes the Pits of Hathsin, a brutal prison camp of the Lord Ruler. He returns to Luthadel, the capital city of the Final Empire, where he rounds up his old thieving crew for a new job: to overthrow the Final Empire by stealing its treasury and collapsing its economy.
  2. The Eleventh Metal – Short story available in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection. The story of how Gemmel taught Kelsier the art of Allomancy. They travel to Mantiz and attack Keep Shezler.
  3. The Well of Ascension – The impossible has happened. The Lord Ruler is dead. But the mists have become unpredictable since, and a strange vaporous entity is stalking Vin – a one-time street urchin, now the most powerful Mistborn in the land. As the siege of Luthadel intensifies, the ancient legend of the Well of Ascension offers the only glimmer of hope. But no one knows where it is or what it can do.
  4. The Hero of Ages – Having escaped death only by becoming a Mistborn himself, Emperor Elend Venture hopes to find clues left behind by the Lord Ruler that will allow him to save the world. Vin is consumed with guilt at having been tricked into releasing the mystic force known as Ruin from the Well. Ruin wants to end the world, and its near omniscience and ability to warp reality make stopping it seem impossible.

III. Mistborn Era 2 (Wax and Wayne Books in Order)

  1. The Alloy of Law – Waxillium Ladrian is a descendant of Breeze and former lawman who returns from the Roughs to assume leadership of his house in the wake of his uncle’s passing. Wayne is his formidable partner and old friend. The two of them are Twinborn, with both one Allomantic power and one Feruchemical power.
  2. Allomancer Jak and the Pits of EltaniaShort story available in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection. The adventure of the Allomancer Jak, captured by the Koloss who want to make him their leader and a Koloss.
  3. Shadows of Self – Scadrial face its first test by terrorism and assassination, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax, his eccentric sidekick Wayne, and brilliant, beautiful young Marasi, now officially part of the constabulary, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife can stop Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.
  1. The Bands of Mourning – The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metal minds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate.
  2. The Lost Metal – For years, frontier lawman turned big-city senator Waxillium Ladrian has hunted the shadowy organization the Set-with his late uncle and his sister among their leaders-since they started kidnapping people with the power of Allomancy in their bloodlines. When Detective Marasi Colms and her partner Wayne find stockpiled weapons bound for the Outer City of Bilming, this opens a new lead. Conflict between Elendel and the Outer Cities only favors the Set, and their tendrils now reach to the Elendel Senate-whose corruption Wax and Steris have sought to expose-and Bilming is even more entangled..
  3. Mistborn: Secret HistoryNovella available in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection. A companion story to the original Mistborn trilogy.

IV. The Secret Projects

  1. Tress of the Emerald Sea – The only life Tress has known on her island home in an emerald-green ocean has been a simple one, with the simple pleasures of collecting cups brought by sailors from faraway lands and listening to stories told by her friend Charlie. But when his father takes him on a voyage to find a bride and disaster strikes, Tress must stow away on a ship and seek the Sorceress of the deadly Midnight Sea. Amid the spore oceans where pirates abound, can Tress leave her simple life behind and make her own place sailing a sea where a single drop of water can mean instant death?
  2. Yumi and the Nightmare Painter – Yumi has spent her entire life in strict obedience, granting her the power to summon the spirits that bestow vital aid upon her society-but she longs for even a single day as a normal person. Painter patrols the dark streets dreaming of being a hero-a goal that has led to nothing but heartache and isolation, leaving him always on the outside looking in. In their own ways, both of them face the world alone. Suddenly flung together, Yumi and Painter must strive to right the wrongs in both their lives, reconciling their past and present while maintaining the precarious balance of each of their worlds. If they cannot unravel the mystery of what brought them together before it’s too late, they risk forever losing not only the bond growing between them, but the very worlds they’ve always struggled to protect.
  3. The Sunlit Man – Running. Putting distance between himself and the relentless Night Brigade has been Nomad’s strategy for years. Staying one or two steps ahead of his pursuers by skipping through the Cosmere from one world to the next. But now, his powers too depleted to escape, Nomad finds himself trapped on Canticle, a planet that will kill anyone who doesn’t keep moving. Fleeing the fires of a sunrise that melts the very stones, he is instantly caught up in the struggle between a heartless tyrant and the brave rebels who defy him.

V. Warbreaker

  1. Warbreaker – This is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses. Theirs is a world in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city. A world transformed by a power based on an essence known as breath. Using magic is arduous as breath can only be collected one unit at a time.

VI. Stormlight Archive Books in Order

  1. The Way of Kings – On a world scoured down to the rock by terrifying hurricanes, a young spearman is forced into the army of a Shardbearer, led to war against an enemy he doesn’t understand and doesn’t really want to fight.
  2. Words of Radiance – Return to a planet swept by apocalyptic storms, a world tipping into war as aristocratic families move to control the shard blades and shard plates, ancient artifacts from a past civilization that can win wars.
  3. EdgedancerNovella available in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection. Three years ago, Lift asked a goddess to stop her from growing older–a wish she believed was granted. Although the young Azish emperor granted her safe haven from an executioner she knows only as Darkness, court life is suffocating the free-spirited Lift, who can’t help heading to Yeddaw when she hears the relentless Darkness is there hunting people like her with budding powers.
  4. Oathbringer – Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.
  5. DawnshardNovella. When a ghost ship is discovered, its crew presumed dead after trying to reach the storm-shrouded island Akinah, Navani Kholin must send an expedition to make sure the island hasn’t fallen into enemy hands.

  1. Rhythm of War – Dalinar Kholin and his Knights Radiant have spent a year fighting a protracted, brutal war. Neither side has gained an advantage. Now, a new technological discoveries begin to change the face of the war. The arms race that follows will challenge the very core of the Radiant ideals, and potentially reveal the secrets of the ancient tower that was once the heart of their strength.

VII. Whitesand Reading Order (Graphic Novel)

  1. White Sand Vol. 1 – On the planet of Taldain, the legendary Sand Masters harness arcane powers to manipulate sand in spectacular ways. But when they are slaughtered in a sinister conspiracy, the weakest of their number, Kenton, believes himself to be the only survivor. With enemies closing in on all sides, Kenton forges an unlikely partnership with Khriss — a mysterious Darksider who hides secrets of her own.
  2. White Sand Vol. 2 – Kenton has become Lord Mastrell of the few remaining Sand Masters, magicians who can manipulate sand to do their bidding. With the ruling council poised against him, the hot-headed Kenton must become a diplomat to have any hope of preventing the eradication of his people forever.
  3. White Sand Vol. 3 – Underpowered and overwhelmed, Kenton tries to hold the Sand Masters together as forces political and personal conspire against them. Now, in one final push, Kenton must tap the most dangerous depths of his own abilities to combat the enemies within his own guild and discover the truth behind the ambush that almost destroyed the Sand Masters for good.

VIII. Others

  1. Shadows For Silence in the Forests of HellNovella available in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection. Amid a forest where the shades of the dead linger all around, every homesteader knows to follow the Simple Rules: “Don’t kindle flame, don’t shed the blood of another, don’t run at night. These things draw shades.” Silence Montane has broken all three rules on more than one occasion. And to protect her family from a murderous gang with high bounties on their heads, Silence will break every rule again, at the risk of becoming a shade herself.
  2. Sixth of the DuskNovella available in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection. On the deadly island of Patji, where birds grant people magical talents and predators can sense the thoughts of their prey, a solitary trapper discovers that the island is not the only thing out to kill him. When he begins to see his own corpse at every turn, does this spell danger for his entire culture?

The Cosmere Publication Order

The Cosmere Universe by publication order.

  1. Elantris
  2. The Hope of Elantris – Short story
  3. The Final Empire
  4. The Well of Ascension
  5. The Hero of Ages
  6. Warbreaker
  7. The Way of Kings
  8. The Alloy of Law
  9. The Eleventh Metal – Short story.
  10. The Emperor’s Soul – Novella.
  11. Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell – Novella
  12. Words of Radiance
  13. Sixth of the Dusk – Novella
  14. Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania – Short story.
  15. Shadows of Self
  16. The Bands of Mourning
  17. Mistborn: Secret History – Novella.
  18. White Sand Vol. 1
  19. Edgedancer – Novella
  20. Arcanum Unbounded – Collects all the short stories and novellas.
  21. Oathbringer
  22. White Sand Vol. 2
  23. White Sand Vol. 3
  24. Dawnshard – Novella
  25. Rhythm of War
  26. The Lost Metal

The Chronological Cosmere Reading Order

Obviously incomplete at this date, this is the chronological order for those who want to (re)discover the universe following the timeline :

  1. White Sand Vol. 1
  2. White Sand Vol. 2
  3. White Sand Vol. 3
  4. Elantris
  5. The Hope of Elantris – Short story.
  6. The Emperor’s Soul – Novella.
  7. The Eleventh Metal – Short story.
  8. The Final Empire
  9. The Well of Ascension
  10. The Hero of Ages
  11. Warbreaker
  12. Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell – Novella.
  13. The Way of Kings
  14. Words of Radiance
  15. Edgedancer – Novella.
  16. Oathbringer
  17. Dawnshard – Novella
  18. Rhythm of War
  19. Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania – Short story.
  20. The Alloy of Law
  21. Shadows of Self
  22. The Bands of Mourning
  23. Secret History – Novella.*
  24. The Lost Metal
  25. Sixth of the Dusk – Novella

*Where to read Secret History? There is some discord around the best placement for the novella. You can choose to read it after Bands of Mourning or between Era 1 and 2 of Mistborn, after Hero of Ages — there are spoilers in it for Bands of Mourning but considered minor for some. It is all about personal taste, for the moment.

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