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Where to Start with Brandon Sanderson

Updated: Jul 29, 2023


Brandon Sanderson has been one of my favorite authors for many years now. I love some of his books more than others, but I honestly have enjoyed every single book he's written. Because of that, he is one of the authors I'm constantly recommending to others. He has written a lot of books, and a lot of big books, so it can be overwhelming to know where to start if you want to try his books but aren't sure where to start.



That's what this post is about today! I'm sharing the top 5 books I think are best to try if you haven't ever read anything by Brandon Sanderson but want to!


Note: The Cosmere is a fictional universe that many of Sanderson's books take place in. If a book is a "Cosmere" book, it takes place on a planet in that universe. Think of it similar to Marvel, but with fantasy books. Not all of his books take place in the Cosmere and so far, you can read all the Cosmere books independently, without having to read all the connected books. But, it can be fun to find the Easter eggs in the connections.



Legion


Legion is a short novella, making it a really quick read (I think the audiobook is less than 3 hours). It's more detective and less fantasy, but it still has that magical element to it. The characters are amazing and it's a fun concept.


Premise: Stephen Leads has a mental condition that generates hallucinations, which he calls aspects. These aspects each have their own personality and specialty. When he can manage his many aspects, they help him solve cases in a way no one else can.




The Emperor's Soul


The Emperor's Soul is also a novella, but pure fantasy. It takes place in the same world as Elantris (though you don't need to read it first). If you are wanting a taste of Sanderson's characters and world building, this is a low commitment option.


Premise: Shai is a Forger, someone who can recreate any item flawlessly by rewriting its history with her magic. After she is condemned to death, she is given a chance at freedom by attempting the impossible task of recreating a new soul for the dying emperor.




Elantris


Elantris a full length, stand alone epic fantasy novel. It has a unique magic system and some amazing character growth. Because it's a stand alone, it's a lower commitment while you also get the full "Sanderson experience". It's also a great introduction to the Cosmere.


Premise: Elantris once was home to demigods, called Elantrians, with magical abilities they used to help others. When the magic failed without warning or reason, these Elantrians became leper-like creatures cursed to live in filth and ruin. When Princess Sarene arrives in Elantris hoping to wed Crown Prince Raoden, she is told he has died, and she is now considered his widow. What she doesn't guess is Prince Raoden was cursed as an Elantris and is struggling to find a way to survive.




The Rithmatist


The Rithmatist is another full-length novel, though considered an upper middle grade book. This is technically the first in the series, but Sanderson doesn't currently have plans to write the sequel and the plot wraps up well enough to read as a stand alone.


Premise: Joel desperately wants to be a Rithmatist--someone who can infuse life into chalk drawings. Without that power, though, Joel can only watch as other students learn the art until he is assigned to help a professor investigating crimes involving Chalklings.




Mistborn


This list wouldn't be complete without Mistborn. I personally think this is the best place to start with Sanderson. It's a bigger commitment, because it is a trilogy, but still not as much as Stormlight. This series has a really fun magic system, lots of new secrets to discover as you read, characters you can fall in love with, and an amazing ending.


Premise: Skaa live as slaves under the Lord Ruler in a world where ash falls from the sky and no flowers bloom. Kelsier, a half-Skaa, is a brilliant thief who builds a team to not only pull a heist on the Lord Ruler himself, but to take the powerful God-like leader down.



These are all great books to start with on your Sanderson journey. The first book I read by him actually was Stormlight, the first book in a series that can be a little overwhelming. He won me over with his characters and the payoff of the character arc, and I've been reading him ever since. Whatever book you start with, I hope you enjoy his books as much as I do!



What book by Brandon Sanderson have you been considering reading? If you've read his books, which is your favorite? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!





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