Brandon Sanderson hit the radar of many fantasy fans when he was hand-chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s legendary Wheel of Time series, but Sanderson had already created his own elaborate fantasy epics before then, spanning multiple worlds and numerous books.
Most of Sanderson’s work is part of his Cosmere series – an epic-length fantasy saga. Through the shared elements of this saga, most of Sanderson's novels share a common backstory and universe, but are self-contained, or constrained to short series or trilogies, with little threads and Easter eggs connecting them for dedicated fans.
One exception to this is his ongoing Stormlight Archive series, which takes place within the same universe as his other Cosmere books, but is intended as an epic series in its own right, with three volumes already published and another on the way.
With so many books and series under his belt, however, it can be difficult to know where to begin with Sanderson’s body of work. Here's where we recommend you start with reading Brandon Sanderson books.
A Cosmere novel
Sanderson’s debut novel not only introduced readers and fans to an enthralling new voice in fantasy, it also served as the introduction of his Cosmere universe.
In 2015, it was reissued by Tor in a special edition, with a new afterword by the author and expanded “Ars Arcanum” appendix, detailing the book’s magic system, which has become a favorite with fans over the years.
Sanderson is actually credited with defining the distinction between “hard” and “soft” magic systems, and created Sanderson’s Three Laws of Magic, which are designed to help writers incorporate magic into their fantasy settings in ways that remain consistent and enjoyable to the reader.
When Elantris came out in 2005, it was Sanderson's first published novel. However, Sanderson had already written more than a dozen novels – Elantris was, in fact, his sixth.
Just two years after the publication of Elantris, Sanderson was chosen by Robert Jordan’s widow and editor, Harriet McDougal, to complete Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series, which, by then, was already eleven books and many thousands of words long. McDougal selected Sanderson for the job after being impressed by his first Mistborn book.
The Gathering Storm, the first of the three books Sanderson wrote to finish out the Wheel of Time series, was released in 2009, with the last book in the series, A Memory of Light, coming out four years later. All three were well-received bestsellers that attracted plenty of attention from critics and fans alike.
The Mistborn Trilogy, Book 1
The Final Empire (Mistborn)
Often simply called Mistborn, the first book in Sanderson’s acclaimed Mistborn Trilogy is the one that got him the Wheel of Time gig, and asks the question, “What if the hero of prophecy fails?”
Taking place in a world where the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” has governed with an iron fist for a thousand years, this magical martial arts heist story is one of Sanderson’s most beloved, and kicks off one of his best-known trilogies within his Cosmere universe.
The Stormlight Archive, Book 1
The Way of Kings
The first book in Sanderson’s epic Stormlight Archive series,The Way of Kings takes readers to a harsh world where planetwide storms have changed the entire ecosystem.
It also introduces fans to the Knights Radiant, a shattered order of powerful warriors who wielded weapons and armor so great that they could single-handedly topple nations and win wars.
The Way of Kings was nominated for a Hugo for Best Series and has recently been adapted into a deck-building board game as part of the Call to Adventure game series from Brotherwise Games.
With stories set in some of Sanderson’s most popular Cosmere settings, including Mistborn, Elantris, and more, not to mention a new, Hugo Award-winning 120-page Stormlight Archive novella, this collection of short stories and novels set in Sanderson’s Cosmere universe is a perfect place for readers to dip their toes into the works of the epic fantasy author.
From a secret history of the Mistborn setting to “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell,” you’ll find a little sampling of many of the author’s worlds here, and can then extend your journey from there into whatever new and exciting realm most tickles your fancy…
The Skyward Series, Book 1
“It is impossible to turn the pages fast enough,” Booklist says of this opening chapter to an exciting new series from Brandon Sanderson.
Spensa dreams of being a pilot in a world under assault from the alien Krell. Unfortunately, her father was a pilot who abandoned his team, and that pall hangs over her dreams of entering flight school.
However, an accidental discovery in a forgotten cave may just change Spensa’s future – and the fate of her entire world.
The Alcatraz Smedry Series, Book 1
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
Sanderson’s children’s book series introduces Alcatraz Smedry, a young teen in foster care who has a seemingly-unfortunate talent for breaking things.
When he receives a bag of sand for his thirteenth birthday, that talent is suddenly put to use as Alcatraz and a ragtag band of allies go up against a cabal of the eponymous evil Librarians who secretly rule the world and have designs on conquering all the remaining Free Kingdoms.
This first adventure kicked off a five-book series.
The Reckoners Series, Book 1
This New York Times bestseller began Sanderson’s Reckoners series.
Something unusual is orbiting in the sky above Earth, and its presence gives certain people superhuman abilities. Unfortunately, these new Epics overthrow world governments and install themselves in positions of nearly absolute power.
The only ones opposing them are the Reckoners, a shadowy group of rebels. In Steelheart, David Charleston joins the Reckoners in order to get revenge for the death of his father and the destruction of his city … only to find there is much more at stake.