Brandon Sanderson

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Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson sign.jpg
Brandon Sanderson signing.
Born (1975-12-19) December 19, 1975 (age 39)
Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.
Occupation Writer, creative writing instructor
Nationality American
Alma mater Brigham Young University (B.A., M.A.)
Period 2005–present
Genre Fantasy, science fiction
Notable works Elantris
Mistborn series
The Stormlight Archive series
final three books in The Wheel of Time series

Brandon Sanderson (born December 19, 1975) is an American writer. He is best known for his Mistborn series and his work in finishing Robert Jordan's epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. In 2010, Sanderson published The Way of Kings, the first of a ten book series called The Stormlight Archive.

Sanderson worked as an editor for the semi-professional magazine Leading Edge while attending school at Brigham Young University, where he now periodically teaches creative writing. In 2008 Sanderson started a podcast with authors Dan Wells and Howard Tayler called Writing Excuses, involving topics about creating and producing genre writing and webcomics.

Early life[edit]

Sanderson was born in Lincoln, Nebraska,[1][2] and currently resides in American Fork, Utah. He earned his Master's degree in Creative Writing in 2005 from Brigham Young University,[3] where he was on the staff of Leading Edge, a semi-professional speculative fiction magazine published by the university. He was a college roommate of Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings.[4][5]

Personal life[edit]

Sanderson was married to Emily Bushman on July 7, 2006.[6] Emily is also Sanderson's business manager.[7] They have three children.[8] He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[2] and served as a missionary in Seoul, South Korea.[9] He currently teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University, in addition to working on his own writing.[10][11]

He is a participant in the weekly podcast Writing Excuses with authors Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and web cartoonist Howard Tayler.


Sanderson's first novel, Elantris, was published by Tor Books on April 21, 2005, to generally positive reviews.[12][13] This was followed in 2006 by The Final Empire, the first book in his Mistborn fantasy trilogy, where "allomancers" — people who have the ability to ‘burn’ various metals and alloys after ingesting them — can enhance senses and allow control over powerful supernatural forces. He followed up in 2007 with a sequel, The Well of Ascension.

Sanderson then published the children's novel Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, about a boy named Alcatraz with a unique gift: he’s very good at breaking things. He also confronts a group of evil librarians who are bent on taking over the world. In 2008, The Hero of Ages was published, followed by an Alcatraz sequel named Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones.

In 2009, Tor Books published Warbreaker, which originally appeared serially on Sanderson’s website while he was writing the novel from 2006 to 2009. The same year a third Alcatraz book followed, titled Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia.

After Robert Jordan’s death in September 2007, Sanderson was selected by Jordon's widow, Harriet McDougal, to complete the final book in Jordan’s epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. McDougal asked him to finish the series after she was deeply impressed by his first Mistborn novel.[14] Tor Books made the announcement on December 7, 2007.[15] After reviewing what was necessary to complete the series, Sanderson and Tor announced on March 30, 2009, that a final three books would be published instead of just one. The first of these, The Gathering Storm, was published on October 27, 2009, and reached the number-one spot on the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover fiction.[16][17]

In 2010, Sanderson published the first novel, titled The Way of Kings, in a planned ten-book series called The Stormlight Archive. It achieved the number seven slot on the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list.[18] Towers of Midnight, the second-to-last Wheel of Time book, was published just over a year after The Gathering Storm on November 2, 2010, also debuting at number one on the bestseller list.[19] The fourth Alcatraz novel, Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens, was published a month later on December 1.

In October 2011, he finished a novella ebook, Infinity Blade: Awakening, based on the action role-playing iOS video game Infinity Blade developed by Chair Entertainment and Epic Games.[20] A standalone sequel to the Mistborn trilogy, Mistborn: The Alloy of Law, was published in November 2011, where it debuted at number seven on the New York Times bestseller list.

On August 31, 2012, Sanderson published a science fiction novella entitled Legion. Another short work, The Emperor's Soul, appeared in October 2012. A few months later, on January 8, 2013, A Memory of Light was published, the final book in The Wheel of Time series.[21] On May 14, 2013, Sanderson published the first in a new young adult series, titled The Rithmatist. Another young adult book series began with the publication of Steelheart on September 24, 2013.[22][23] Words of Radiance, the second book in the Stormlight Archive, was published on March 4, 2014.[24] The second novella in the Legion series, Legion: Skin Deep, was published in November 2014.

Sanderson's Laws[edit]

Sanderson's First Law[edit]

"An author's ability to solve conflict satisfactorily with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic."[25]

While originally created as a rule for magic systems in fantasy novels, Sanderson has specified that this law need not apply just to fantasy, but is also applicable to science fiction. This Law was originally defined in Sanderson's online essay "Sanderson's First Law".[25] In the essay he qualifies the two extremes1 of design as being:

Hard Magic
Magic/technology has well defined rules that the audience understands. As a result, one can use this to solve conflict more easily as the capabilities are cleanly defined. Sanderson classifies this as "Hard Magic". C.L. Wilson in her essay Worldbuilding 101 - Making Magic[26] advocated this method of creation, stating, "...create your rules, then follow them."
Soft Magic
Magic/technology has unclear or vague rules, or none at all. This allows for a greater sense of wonder to be attained for the reader, but the ability to solve problems without resorting to deus ex machina decreases. Sanderson classifies this as "Soft Magic". Lawrence Watt-Evans specifically advised "The trick is to be a benevolent and consistent deity, not one who pulls miracles out of a hat as needed."[27]

Sanderson's Second Law[edit]

"Limitations > Powers"[25]

Or in other words, a character's weaknesses are more interesting than his or her abilities. It was initially set down in Episode 14 of the podcast Writing Excuses.[28]2

John Brown, likewise looked to Sanderson's work in his own essay involving magic systems, noting "What are the ramifications and conflicts of using it?"[29] Patricia Wrede likewise noted several issues on this topic ranging from magic suppressing other technologies, to how a magic might affect farming.[30][31]

In explaining the second law, Sanderson references the magic system of Superman, claiming that Superman's powers are not what make him interesting, but his limits, specifically his vulnerability to kryptonite and the code of ethics he received from his parents.

Sanderson's Third Law[edit]

"Expand what you already have before you add something new."[32]

The Third Law implies that the writer should go deeper with worldbuilding before going wider.

Sanderson points out that magic does not take place in a vacuum, a good magic system should be interconnected with the world around it. It is related to the ecology, religion, economics, warfare, and politics of the world it inhabits. The job of the author is to think further than the reader about the ramifications of the magic system. If magic can turn mud into diamonds, that has an effect on the value of diamonds. Sanderson states that readers of genre fiction are interested not just in the magic system but how the world and characters will be different because of the magic.[33]

The Cosmere[edit]

The Cosmere is the name of the universe in which the majority of Sanderson's books exist. This idea came from his desire to create an epic length series without requiring readers to buy a ridiculous amount of books. Because of that he hides connections to his other works within each book, creating this "hidden epic". In the end the Cosmere Cycle will include between 32-36 books.[34]

The story of the Cosmere is about a mysterious being called Adonalsium, who existed on a world known as Yolen. Something made Adonalsium shatter into sixteen different Shards, of which each bears immense power. The sixteen people who took these Shards created new worlds, populating them with people and different types of magic. However, each Shard has an Intent, such as Ruin or Honor, and they became molded to it. A man named Hoid travels these so-called Shardworlds, interfering with the people of those worlds when they become heroes and come in contact with the Shards.[35]


Series are listed alphabetically.

Alcatraz series[edit]

Dark One series[edit]

The series is about a boy who learns he is destined to destroy the world. The series was announced in December 2014, but no information on number of volumes or release dates were included.[36]

Dragonsteel series[edit]

This series will tell the backstory of Hoid, a key figure in the Cosmere, the universe in which most of Sanderson's stories are set.[36]

Elantris series[edit]

Infinity Blade series[edit]

These works are based on the action role-playing iOS video game Infinity Blade, developed by Chair Entertainment and Epic Games.

Legion series[edit]

Mistborn series[edit]

Main article: Mistborn series

In addition to the original trilogy and the Wax and Wayne series, there are at least two other trilogies planned in the Mistborn series.[36]

Original trilogy[edit]

Wax and Wayne series[edit]

Alloy of Law is a standalone work, the rest of the books form a trilogy.[36]

Reckoners series[edit]

Main article: The Reckoners

A short story titled Mitosis was released in 2013 and takes place between the first and second book.

Rithmatist series[edit]

Main article: Rithmatist series

The Stormlight Archive[edit]

Warbreaker series[edit]

Standalone short works[edit]

  • Firstborn (2008) (short story, published on[49]
  • Defending Elysium (2008) (short story, published in October/November 2008 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction)[50]
  • Silence Divine (working title, forthcoming) (novella)[36]
  • Adamant (working title, forthcoming) (novella)[36]
  • Perfect State (working title, forthcoming) (non-cosmere novella)[51]

Collaborative works[edit]

The Wheel of Time[edit]

Main article: The Wheel of Time

The books below are the final books of the Wheel of Time series originally written by Robert Jordan, who died before being able to finish his series. Sanderson was chosen by the widow (who was also the editor) of the original author to finish the series according to the notes left behind by her husband. Sanderson has the same publisher for most of his works (Tor) as the Wheel of Time series.[52]

White Sand graphic novels series[edit]

White Sand is set in the Cosmere, and is set on a world where there are Daysiders and Darksiders who each have special abilities related to where they live. The artist and writer for the series have not yet been announced. The works will be based off an original manuscript by Sanderson.[54]

  • White Sand #1 (forthcoming untitled graphic novel, 2015)
  • White Sand #2 (forthcoming untitled graphic novel, date TBA)
  • White Sand #3 (forthcoming untitled graphic novel, date TBA)


Selected awards and honors[edit]

Sanderson has been nominated for and also won multiple awards for his various works. See Writing Excuses for additional awards and nominations.

Year Organization Award title,
Work Result Refs
2005 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award,
Best Epic Fantasy Novel Award
Elantris Won [59]
2006 World Science Fiction Convention John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer -- Nominated
Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award,
Best Epic Fantasy Novel Award
Mistborn Nominated [60]
2007 World Science Fiction Convention John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer -- Nominated
Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award,
Best Epic Fantasy Novel Award
The Well of Ascension Nominated [61]
Polytechnic University of Catalonia UPC Science Fiction Award Defending Elysium Won [62]
LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Speculative Fiction
The Well of Ascension Nominated [63]
Whitney Awards,
Best Youth Fiction
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians Nominated
2008 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Best Book Award,
Best Epic Fantasy Novel Award
The Hero of Ages Won [64]
LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Speculative Fiction Award
The Hero of Ages Won [65]
2009 LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Speculative Fiction
Warbreaker Nominated [66]
2010 LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Speculative Fiction Award
The Way of Kings Won [67]
LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Novel of the Year Award
The Way of Kings Won [67]
2011 DGLA David Gemmell Legend Award The Way of Kings Won [68]
LDStorymakers Whitney Awards,
Best Speculative Fiction Award
The Alloy of Law Won [69]
2013 World Science Fiction Society Hugo Award,
Best Novella
The Emperor's Soul Won [70]
World Fantasy Convention World Fantasy Award,
Best Novella
The Emperor's Soul Nominated [71]

See also[edit]


1.^ In the essay, Sanderson clarifies, "Most writers are somewhere in the middle between these two extremes."
2.^ From the same episode, this law is also called Tayler's First Law. "If the energy you are getting from your magic is cheaper than letting a donkey do it, your medieval economy just fell apart."


  1. ^ "Profile for Brandon Sanderson". Writertopia. Retrieved August 10, 2006. 
  2. ^ a b "Famous Mormon Writers and Authors". Archived from the original on August 15, 2006. Retrieved August 10, 2006. 
  3. ^ "Winter 2006 Alumni Profiles Update". BYU Magazine. Retrieved January 17, 2007. 
  4. ^ "Ken Jennings - Blog". December 11, 2007. 
  5. ^ Wenger, Kaimi (June 11, 2007). "MWS: Brandon Sanderson". Times & Seasons. Retrieved December 20, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Newsletter, July 2006". Retrieved August 10, 2006. 
  7. ^ "About Brandon". Retrieved April 4, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Newsletter, February 2010". Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Brandon Sanderson: About". Retrieved June 1, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Faculty & Staff Directory". Department of Humanities, Brigham Young University. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  11. ^ Sanderson, Brandon (December 20, 2013). "Application deadline for my BYU creative writing class is Monday". Dragonsteel Entertainment. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Review by Orson Scott Card". Retrieved December 18, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Review blurbs on Sanderson's site". Retrieved December 18, 2010. 
  14. ^ "An interview with Brandon Sanderson". December 8, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Tor announces that the final novel in bestselling Robert Jordan's legendary Wheel of Time fantasy series will be completed by author Brandon Sanderson". December 7, 2007. Archived from the original on December 12, 2007. Retrieved December 10, 2007. 
  16. ^ "Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction". The New York Times. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. November 5, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2009. 
  17. ^ "The Gathering Storm coming sooner than expected". Retrieved September 8, 2009. 
  18. ^ "The Way of Kings is a New York Times Bestseller". Retrieved September 8, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction". The New York Times. November 21, 2010. 
  20. ^ Michael McWhertor (November 2, 2010). "The First Epic iPhone Game Is Now 'Infinity Blade'". Kotaku. Gawker Media. 
  21. ^ "The Release Date for A Memory of Light Has Been Set". Retrieved February 17, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b "Delacorte Press Acquires Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson". June 13, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Gollancz acquires new Brandon Sanderson series – STEELHEART is coming!". Gollancz. June 13, 2012. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, Book 2) (Stormlight Archive, The)". Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  25. ^ a b c Sanderson, Brandon. "Sanderson's First Law". Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  26. ^ Wilson, C.L. "Worldbuilding 101 - Making Magic". Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  27. ^ Watt-Evans, Lawrence. "Deus ex Machina and Writing Fantasy". Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  28. ^ Sanderson, Brandon; Howard Tayler, Dan Wells (May 18, 2008). "Writing Excuses Episode 15: Costs and Ramifications of Magic". (Podcast). Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  29. ^ Brown, John. "Inventing Magic". Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  30. ^ Wrede, Patricia. "Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions: Daily Life". Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  31. ^ Wrede, Patricia. "Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions: Commerce, Trade, and Public Life". Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  32. ^ Sanderson, Brandon (September 25, 2013). "Sanderson’s Third Law of Magic". Dragonsteel Entertainment. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  33. ^ Sanderson, Brandon. "2013 Brandon Sanderson - Lecture 3: Limitations Are More Interesting (7/7)". Retrieved August 3, 2013. 
  34. ^ Thea. "The Rithmatist: A Chat with Brandon Sanderson". The Book Smugglers. Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  35. ^ Whitehead, Adam. "Brandon Sanderson plans 36-volume fantasy series". Wertzone. Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Sanderson, Brandon (December 18, 2014). "State of the Sanderson: December 2014". Dragonsteel Entertainment. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Brandon Sanderson: The Hope of Elantris". Retrieved July 16, 2014. 
  38. ^ "Brandon Sanderson: The Emperors Soul". Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  39. ^ "Mistborn: Shadows of Self". Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  40. ^ "Tor Acquires Two More Mistborn Novels from Brandon Sanderson". Tor. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  41. ^ "Firefight (Reckoners)". Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Calamity by Brandon Sanderson". Retrieved January 27, 2015. 
  43. ^ a b Sanderson, Brandon (February 28, 2013). "The Rithmatist". Tor Books. 
  44. ^ Sanderson, Brandon. "Q&A with Brandon Sanderson". 17th Shard. Retrieved October 15, 2012. 
  45. ^ a b "Another Long-Winded Explanation of Various Things". Retrieved May 9, 2009. 
  46. ^ "Brandon Sanderson Blog: DONE". July 7, 2009. 
  47. ^ "Announcing the Words of Radiance Brandon Sanderson Book Tour". January 29, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  48. ^ Stubby the Rocket (July 8, 2014). "Brandon Sanderson Reads First Chapter From Stormlight Archive Book 3!". Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  49. ^ Sanderson, Brandon (December 17, 2008). "Firstborn by Brandon Sanderson". Retrieved December 21, 2014. 
  50. ^ "Defending Elysium". Dragonsteel Entertainment. Retrieved December 21, 2014. 
  51. ^ "Firefight is out + Steelhunt 2015!". Dragonsteel Entertainment. January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2015. 
  52. ^ Jones, Alexis (January 6, 2013). "Utah author Brandon Sanderson set to release final installment of much-loved Wheel of Time series". Deseret News. 
  53. ^ "Tor Fall 2010 Hardcovers and Trade Paperbacks". 
  54. ^ Sanderson, Brandon (May 30, 2014). "Hugo Voter Packet with The Wheel of Time, Convention Deadlines, White Sand Graphic Novels". Dragonsteel Entertainment. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  55. ^ "Heuristic Algorithm and Reasoning Response Engine". Dragonsteel Entertainment. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  56. ^ "River of Souls". Dragonsteel Entertainment. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  57. ^ "Games Creatures Play is out this week!". Dragonsteel Entertainment. April 3, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  58. ^ "Introducing the Writing Excuses Anthology!". Dragonsteel Entertainment. June 30, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  59. ^ "2005 RT Award Nominees & Winners". Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  60. ^ "2006 RT Award Nominees & Winners". Retrieved July 13, 2013. 
  61. ^ "2007 RT Award Nominees & Winners". Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  62. ^ "Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya". Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  63. ^ "Whitney Awards 2007 Finalists". Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  64. ^ "2008 RT Award Nominees & Winners". Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  65. ^ "Whitney Awards 2008 Winners". Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  66. ^ "Whitney Awards 2009 Finalists". Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  67. ^ a b "Whitney Awards 2010 Winners". Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  68. ^ "The David Gemmell Legend Award for Fantasy Previous Winners". Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  69. ^ "Whitney Awards 2011 Winners". Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  70. ^ "The Hugo Award 2013 Hugo Awards". Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  71. ^ "The World Fantasy Awards 2013". Retrieved August 15, 2013. 

External links[edit]