Read and find out.

By Henry Shorr

I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite books lately. It’s always comforting to return to stories I love, and I tend to discover things I missed during previous read-throughs. One author I always go back to is Brandon Sanderson and his Cosmere books.

Sanderson had already released two novels in his universe called the Cosmere before he was tasked to finish the “Wheel of Time” series for Robert Jordan after his death. 

Sanderson tied a nice little bow on a series that some thought Jordan would never be able to bring to a close. Since then — on top of other projects — he has released 15 novels, a graphic novel and a collection of short stories all set in the Cosmere.

Many fiction authors are good at worldbuilding. It’s my favorite part of the genre; jumping into a new world with rules that make sense is so satisfying. Sanderson took it to the next level  — he wrote a universe creation story.

In his “Cosmere,” which is the name of the universe in which his stories take place, a group of 17 people conspired to kill god. They succeeded, splintered him into 16 pieces, and all but one of the conspirators picked up these shards of divinity and became gods in their own right. They then went off to different solar systems in the Cosmere to do what gods do: play around with people.

Sanderson has written different series set on different worlds within the Cosmere. Each series is self-contained, but they all tie into and give hints to the larger, Cosmere-wide story that spans all the books. What’s more, different stories provide different in-genre opportunities for the readers.

Do you fancy a heist story about a class struggle where people ingest metal to use magic powers? The “Mistborn” series is for you. Want to read a story set in the most foreign, fantasy world covered with crabs? Pick up “The Stormlight Archive.” Need some good romance? I can suggest “Warbreaker.”

Sanderson uses a relatively standard point-of-view style of writing for most of his books. He writes in the third person, with each chapter coming from various characters’ points of view. That is until the action starts and point-of-view characters start to switch mid-chapter. Fans call this a “Sanderlanche.” 

He also makes a point to write about very real problems in his fantasy setting. The “Mistborn” series is a very class-conscious book that shows the problems of population control and extreme wealth inequality. “The Stormlight Archive” is a story that centers around mental health and the problems of religious hegemony rewriting history. 

What I love most about Sanderson is he delivers. 

He has a plan outlined for the Cosmere that will take more than 30 books to finish and I believe he can do it. Visiting his website, you will see a literal progress bar on his homepage letting you know how far into each project he is. 

He updates his YouTube channel weekly and regularly answers his fans’ Cosmere-related questions … unless they are too on the nose and then he will tell people to “read and find out,” or RAFO, as it’s affectionately abbreviated by Sanderson.

The true beauty of Sanderson’s Cosmere is there are so many different points to jump in. Any of the first books in his various Cosmere series — “The Final Empire,” “The Way of Kings,” “Elantris” and “Warbreaker” —  are great starting spots.

Finally, if you wondered why I said there were 17 people who conspired to kill god but only 16 of them took up a shard, be on the lookout for Hoid. He pops up in every Cosmere book at some point. Sometimes for one line and sometimes as a main character. 

If you are curious about the Cosmere, find me on campus. It’s the one thing I love talking about more than any other literary topic. Or you can RAFO.